Early in 2016, experts from the World Economic Forum said that to succeed, “businesses will need to put talent development and future workforce strategy front and center to their growth.” That statement was solid affirmation for companies to develop and deepen their mobility strategy.
Finding the proper talent for employers, and supporting companies that source, hire and move their talent around the world is an initiative shared by all of us who touch HR. Senior leaders with global experience are better able to operate and strategize in a whole-world business context. Younger professionals see global assignments as a natural element of their careers, and are frequently more willing to embrace mobility than some of their more conventional colleagues.
In the current environment, there are four key areas that hold both challenge and opportunity for employers, and that are top-of-mind for global CEOs.
The workforce is transforming. Demographics the world over tell a story of low population replacement, which has brought us to our current talent shortage. Baby boomers are steadily exiting the labour force, taking with them strong institutional knowledge and depth of experience. Younger professionals are on the rise, and bring with them both entrepreneurism and strong challenges to the status quo. This group is apt to change jobs more quickly during their careers, carve out more time for personal experiences, and design their work and career in a way that most engages and motivates them. For the first time in 2017, GenZ workers will be part of the mix, and even more than millennials, this is a group that seeks a clear sense of purpose in their work (and meaningful impact on the wider world), scope for personal initiative, and more flexible working conditions.
Employers are also participating in the growth of the gig economy, which offers workers a path to independent employment without a formal connection to one company. And another new possibility is emerging: creating work-at-a distance relationships through an e-residency program, tailored to appeal to the hundreds of millions of freelancers and entrepreneurs across the globe who can work location-independently.
Young professionals may value benefits over pay. Employers have learned something surprising in the last few years: benefits are outpacing pay in the attempt to recruit, hire and retain young professionals. Perks are an attraction, too, for almost 60 percent of job seekers. The most popular benefits are still the basics: health insurance, vacation, bonuses, sick leave and retirement plans. Diversified benefits and unique pluses are appealing, too: think student loan repayment, seasonal breaks, and paid volunteer time off. For the family-minded, there might be extended paid parental leave and “baby cash” bonuses.
A focus on diversity and inclusion helps companies outpace competitors. Bersin by Deloitte’s High-Impact Talent Management research found that the highest performing companies had developed an inclusive talent system. McKinsey research shows that ethnically-diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform their peers, and gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to follow suit. And Catalyst studies reveal that companies with more women on the board statistically deliver higher financial performance over time. Employers with solid diversity and inclusion initiatives can strongly enhance their reputation as an employer of choice and improve fiscal outcome.
Automation, mobile capabilities and predictive analytics are increasingly essential. As the number of young employees rises in the labour force, so does their technological influence. Digital since birth, they are forcing process and organizational change. Increasingly sophisticated technology allows for more automation in job search marketing, talent sourcing, communications and outreach. It also deepens engagement and attracts potential employees. Mobile apps are now a primary interface for many HR-related systems; and analytics that come from the effective use of big data shed light on employee effectiveness, retention and recruiting. And as succession planning is essential, leadership and performance assessment tools aid in developing a pipeline of experienced global leaders to fill executive roles.
Business has never been more global or more transformative. Our interconnected world demands that we continue to improve on the ways we identify, attract, hire, place, train and manage an international workforce. That improvement in our support of global business and expansion will truly put talent development and future workforce strategy “front and center.”