Talent Mobility Good Practice to Stimulate Economic Growth


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In the latter part of 2011, The World Economic Forum (WEF), in partnership with Mercer, embarked on a talent mobility good practice research project that explores how talent mobility can can impact economic development and growth.

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Talent Mobility Good Practice to Stimulate Economic Growth

  2. 2. TALENT MOBILITY GOOD PRACTICE TO STIMULATEECONOMIC GROWTHIn the latter part of 2011, the World Economic Forum (WEF), inpartnership with Mercer, embarked on a talent mobility good practiceresearch project1 that explores how talent mobility can impacteconomic development and growth. This article summarises some ofthe research findings and offers insight into how talent mobility goodpractice – supported by collaboration amongst governments, busi-nesses and international institutions – can overcome the foundationalissues that cause imbalances in human capital markets. “The success of any national or business model for competi- tiveness in the future will be placed less on capital and much more on talents. We could say that the world is moving from capitalism to talentism.”2 – Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, WEF, 2011Talent is the fuel that drives the engine of the global economy, butthere is a talent crisis impelled by serious imbalances in humancapital markets. On one side, we see talent shortages. On the other,we see high unemployment rates and employability challengesslowing down economies and threatening future growth across theglobe. The magnitude of talent risks requires concrete actions todayby governments, businesses and educational institutions to enableeconomic growth tomorrow – in all regions of the world.Although talent mobility can help solve the talent crisis, there is noglobally recognised platform for addressing talent mobility chal-lenges and exchanging practices and experiences amongst variousstakeholders. The objective of this research project is not only toidentify and share good practices, but also to inspire decision makersand stakeholders.1 ver the summer of 2011, more than 4,000 talent mobility practitioners and experts were O surveyed on talent mobility good practice in 45 countries – within North America (44%), Asia Pacific (27%) and Europe (24%) – in the private and public sectors, in academia, and in the civil societies across the world. Almost 60% of participating organisations report more than $1 billion in revenue.2 laus Schwab, opening speech, WEF’s Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job K Creation in the Arab World, Dead Sea, Jordan, 21 October 2011. 1
  3. 3. FOUNDATIONAL ISSUES AFFECTING TALENT MOBILITYThe research examined hundreds of private and public sectorpractices worldwide and included conversations with more than100 business, government and academic representatives. To ensurediversity and global reach, more than 200 good practices werecollected in multiple dimensions of talent mobility and variousregions. The analysis of this material revealed that good practicesdirectly address one or more of the following key impediments:1. Widespread unemployability due to a lack of basic employment skills, particularly amongst people in underprivileged communities. This has exceedingly negative consequences for the individuals shut out of the labour market and the societies in which large groups of people lack economic opportunities – and the businesses operating in those markets need skilled people to drive growth.2. Critical gaps between what skills employees possess and what skills businesses need. Because of these gaps, businesses cannot find the talent they need where they need it, and individuals may find themselves ill equipped for the jobs of the future.3. Information gaps that make it difficult for labour markets to match workers to jobs effectively. Workers lack information about current job openings or future skill needs, while employers seeking talent cannot perfectly observe the actual capabilities of prospective employees.4. Public and private constraints on mobility that impede the ability of markets to balance supply and demand by adjusting wages or the number of workers. These include both common government interventions, such as imposing minimum wage laws and visa restrictions, and private ones, such as imposing union rules or professional credentialing restrictions.ORGANISATIONS’ TALENT MOBILITY PRACTICESAccording to the survey results, companies are overwhelminglyconcerned with their abilities in terms of talent attraction and devel-opment (see Figure 1), and they employ talent mobility as a way to:• Develop leaders and other talent• Increase the diversity of talent• Transfer knowledge• Retain top talent 2
  4. 4. Figure 1:What Were the Specific Objectives of the Practice? Develop leaders 35% and other talent Increase diversity 19% of talentTransfer knowledge 17% Retain top talent 16% Lower costs 9%Create career paths 8% Place talent 8% Standardise 6% processes Create talent pool to fill gaps 6%Optimise resources 4% Comply with immigration and 2% tax regulationsThe programmes companies have implemented to address theseconcerns are predominantly “classic” in nature, as they fall in theareas of leadership and career development as well as internationalassignments. Companies are much less likely to implement initiativeson virtual mobility or moving youth to employment, and movingpeople across organisational departments or units turns out to bemore prevalent than moving people across borders (see Figure 2). 3
  5. 5. Figure 2:What Type of Talent Mobility Is Your Practice About? Leadership 73% Improving 17% development employability Moving people Moving jobs within an 69% 13% to people organisation Moving people 61% Job creation 12% across countries Workforce development 55% Virtual mobility 11% and training Moving people 49% Moving youth 8%across occupations to employment Workforce 41% Moving unemployed 4% planning to employed Extending and diversifying 41% Other 6% talent pools Fostering brain 21% circulationAlmost half of companies rely on research, information sessions andintra-department coordination to design and implement their talentmobility practices, but stakeholder support is a significant obstacle,cited by a quarter of respondents, as are many of the elements neces-sary to successful expatriate programmes, such as designing attractivepay packages; finding people willing to work abroad; finding replace-ments; and visa, tax and social issues. Other key challenges includedeveloping systematic processes and communications strategies.While a small number of respondents reported using their talentmobility practices to affect the external labour market, theorganisations surveyed clearly favour practices that affect theirexisting workforce. In fact, respondents said talent mobility practicesare much more beneficial when used to attract, develop, motivateand retain their own talent rather than when used to address broadertalent market challenges, such as talent shortages, unemploymentor a lack of employability (see Table 1). 4
  6. 6. Table 1Benefits – To What Extent Do You Believe Talent Mobility Does the Following? • Helps to develop leaders/leadership skills Very large • Helps to retain top talent and those with critical skills extent • Motivates performance through better career opportunity and development Large • Improves knowledge development and transfers within our workforce • Helps to attract top talent and those with critical skills extent • Smoothes operations by ensuring people are in place to do the job • Helps to address talent shortages by better matching labour supply Some and demand extent • Grows our workforce skills and develops its experience • Strengthens our competitive and/or comparative advantage Modest • Helps to maintain a common culture across our organisation • Increases workforce diversity extent • Increases overall employment and/or employability Minor • Accommodates values and aspirations of Gen Y and Millennials extent • Increases workforce productivity/lowers labour costAlmost all survey participants believe that the benefits of talentmobility outweigh the costs, but organisations do have cost concernsand see the direct and administrative costs of talent mobility practicesas the most significant. Organisations also worry that talent mobility isdisruptive of talent and leadership development, the development ofspecialist knowledge, customer/client relationships and the smoothfunctioning of teams. In addition, they believe that talent mobilitypractices can be demotivating to those who are not mobile, can raiseunrealistic career expectations for those who are, and can reduceopportunities for women or others within the organisation.WHO IS MOVING?The people participating in mobility programmes are usually:• At the early stage of their careers. A third of respondents said moves most often come during the first five years of an employee’s career, while another third said a move is most likely when an employee has been with the organisation for five to 10 years.• Men and women. However, a little over a third said that men are more likely than women to experience a move.• Executives, managers and professional/technical employees. These were virtually the only talent segments targeted by respondents’ talent mobility practices.• Between 0% and 20% of the workforce in any one year. More than 40% of respondents move 5% or less of their people in a year, a quarter move 6%–10% and another quarter move 11%–20% of the workforce annually. 5
  7. 7. Despite the challenges, half of organisations’ talent mobility practicesproved largely successful in meeting objectives, as measured bymobility rates, retention and participant feedback; only 10% rated theirpractices only modestly or not at all successful. Surprisingly, the impactof one-fifth of the practices was not measured in any way, and only 13%of practices were measured in terms of their economic impact. Whilea fifth of respondents said they could have done nothing differently toimprove effectiveness, another fifth thought that better communica-tion or more and better training would have helped.COLLABORATION IS AT THE CORE OF REBALANCING GLOBALTALENT MARKETSOur research shows that whether on the organisational level; within acountry, industry or region; or across multiple professionals worldwide,collaboration has enabled stakeholders to grapple effectively withtalent market challenges in order to significantly enhance growth.Moreover, the broader the cooperation, the more likely interventionsare to address, simultaneously, all four sources of market inefficiencyor failure – resulting in a much greater impact on talent issues.Figure 3Collaboration Is Core to Driving Economic Growth Level 4 NGO Level 3 NGO Level 2 RegionLevel 1 Industry Organisations Organisation NGO International organisations Country Governments NGO Academia NGO NGO NGOs Global 6
  8. 8. LEVEL 1: COLLABORATION WITHIN THE ORGANISATIONWithin an organisation, collaboration across functions, units andgeographies is often critical in designing and implementing talentmobility practices that encourage economic growth. These practicescan help develop employees within the organisation, close informa-tion gaps and better balance internal supply and demand. The keypractices implemented by “best in class” organisations include:• Forecasting of the supply and demand of critical talent• Career and leadership development, focusing on building critical skills• Integrated diversity and inclusion strategy• Global mobility philosophy aligned with talent development strategy• Strategic succession planning• Promotion of internal mobility across business units and job functions• Leadership accountabilityREAL-LIFE EXAMPLES OF MOBILITY PRACTICESINSEAD: GLOBALISATION OF FACULTY AND STUDENTSProblem• In the late 1990s, the centre of gravity of business was seen as shifting to the East with the rise of Asia. INSEAD – with its strong European roots in France – wanted to leverage this trend and was missing the adequate development of the Asian dimension across its different stakeholder groups – faculty, staff, students, alumni and corporate supporters.Solution• In October 1999, INSEAD took a bold step: it opened a campus in Asia and became the first business school to have two fully fledged campuses with permanent faculty – one in Europe, the other in Asia.• INSEAD’s determination to make Singapore an “equal” campus has been essential to its success. This is done through several key mechanisms: − One common student-intake process – INSEAD applicants are selected in one process. Once admitted, they choose either the Fontainebleau or the Singapore campus to begin. − Student mobility – As the programme structures and contents are largely the same across the two campuses, students can shift at will between the two locations. − One process for faculty management – Faculty are hired, evaluated and managed through one shared process. There is no special local faculty; all faculty have to meet the same global standards for hiring and promotion. This is essential for maintaining parity in teaching and research. − One administration – The school maintains a unified organisational structure. There is one dean for the school, one chair for each department, one staff director for each key function, etc. Each dean/director performs with a global perspective.Results• The school’s campus in Singapore has been very successful. It has grown rapidly in size – far faster than initial projections – and today, it is almost the same size as the mother campus in France. The culture of the whole institution has changed (for the better) with an infusion of new ideas and cultural values from Asia. The students are more global in their perspective and are highly sought after by corporate recruiters. 7
  9. 9. LEVEL 2: COLLABORATION ACROSS ORGANISATIONS WITHINA COUNTRYWhen they cannot solve talent issues on their own, leading organisa-tions are going beyond their own walls to collaborate with othersto source and develop talent locally. On a country level, we foundprogrammes that provide access to information on labour supply anddemand, mitigate brain drain and facilitate the immigration of thehighly skilled. Collaborative good practices within a country or acrossseveral organisations within a country include:• Secondment of employees to other organisations• Partnerships amongst companies, governments or educators on the training, development and deployment of talent• Public-sector initiatives on sharing information on labour supply and demand• Public-sector-led programmes that mitigate brain drain and facilitate immigrationSAUDI ARAMCO: DEPLOYING AND DEVELOPING TALENT GLOBALLYSaudi Aramco strengthens both the Saudi economy and its own workforce through strategic work-force planning and development practices carried out in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.ProblemThe company has been reliant on developing the country’s technical and managerial talent.Current and projected shortages of seasoned petroleum engineers and other experiencedtechnical staff, combined with the risk of substantial turnover, have increased pressure onthe company to optimise its utilisation and deployment of talent, develop the next genera-tion of professionals and effectively identify, and tap new talent markets around the world.Solution• Saudi Aramco developed and implemented a state-of-the-art strategic workforce planning methodology. Encompassing the company’s full-time workforce of nearly 60,000, the planning model forecasts talent needs, anticipates gaps and identifies effective ways to close those gaps. The company then uses this information to guide finely calibrated mobility and recruiting decisions.• Saudi Aramco makes massive investments in education, training and development in excess of $10,000 per employee annually, sometimes beginning pre-employment and extending across an employee’s career. Educational investments, via degree programmes, are focused on top Saudi universities and leading universities in the Western world, Asia and the Middle East. These investments help improve the quality of Saudi Aramco’s workforce and help adapt workforce skills, knowledge and capabilities to changing organisational needs.• Expatriate assignments are one of the key tools used to develop leadership and technical skills in the Saudi workforce. The company collaborates with its alliance partners throughout the world to place Saudi employees within their companies, giving them exposure to Western management practices and more diverse technology. The company also relies heavily on internal mobility at all career levels to broaden experience, better match people to jobs and strengthen engagement and motivation. Continued on bottom of the next page 8
  10. 10. LEVEL 3: COLLABORATION ON AN INDUSTRY OR A REGIONAL LEVELOn an industry or a regional level, examples of good practices includepublic/private partnerships designed to foster talent mobility andskill development, as well as industry associations working closelywith the public sector to attract and develop talent. Collaborativegood practices on an industry or a regional level include:• Strategic talent assessment, development and deployment on an industry level• Matching of supply and demand through job fairs, job portals and university visits• Shaping of academic curricula through participation on university advisory councils• Subsidised internship programmes• Industry-specific training programmes and workshopsLEVEL 4: COLLABORATION ON A GLOBAL ORMULTI-STAKEHOLDER LEVELFinally, when collaboration takes place on a global/multi-stakeholderlevel, we see sectors, governments, international organisations andacademia working closely together to solve complex talent mobilityissues. Often, these include all or a number of the good practicesdescribed previously, but working across multiple countries andregions. For example, private companies may develop innovativetalent sourcing and development strategies by working closely witheducational institutions, governments and nongovernmental organ-isations (NGOs) in multiple countries. There are also internationaldevelopment initiatives in the area of skill development and tradeagreements between countries.Results• The model helped the organisation manage its workforce in a time of surging demand and has helped the company address concerns about its talent pipeline and the prospective retirement bulge.• Recent ROI analysis suggests that the company is making highly efficient investments in training and education. Those who earn degrees and certifications through the Saudi Aramco Professional Development Programme do better than other employees over time, as measured by ratings, career and pay progress. 9
  11. 11. HOW MOBILITY PRACTICES CAN ADDRESS FOUNDATIONAL TALENTMARKET ISSUESThe types of practices that governments, academia, NGOs, inter-national organisations and businesses are using collaboratively toaddress foundational talent market issues include:• Practices to address unemployability by preparing more people for employment or boosting demand through employment subsidies• Practices to address skills gaps through retraining and up-skilling• Practices to address information gaps to facilitate better matches between labour supply and labour demand• Practices to ease constraints on talent mobility so that the right talent can flow to the right places to fill critical needsCOLLABORATION VS. WAR FOR TALENTBusinesses and industries are beginning to realise that competitionfor talent is not a zero-sum game. Those who think more strategi-cally about managing talent are recognising that the key to growthis increasing collaboration beyond an organisation’s own “walls”.As labour markets become as global as capital markets, the mostsuccessful companies will be those moving out on this frontier tocollaborate with governments, academia, international institutions andNGOs to find and develop talent. At the same time, with competitionfor investment and talent so strong, governments are often no moreable to go it alone in their efforts to strengthen labour markets thanare any of the other stakeholders. Permanent or temporary alliancesincreasingly are the avenues for getting things done.In addition to understanding the macroeconomic and microeconomic issues affecting themovement of people to jobs and jobs to people, and taking action to develop and imple-ment talent mobility practices that stimulate economic growth, stakeholders must keep inmind the concerns and needs of talent. The buy-in of talent is a prerequisite to any activitythat aims to help people enter the workforce or develop their careers. 10
  12. 12. DEVELOPING THE RIGHT MINDSETWhy are collaborative efforts still relatively rare? The answer is thatcollaboration itself is extremely complex and difficult to implement.Those who have done it well actually exhibit a different mindset whenit comes to solving talent challenges.Those leaders on the talent mobility frontier who practice what wehave identified as “enlightened collaboration” are able to design andimplement complex, multi-stakeholder talent solutions for mutualgain because they:• Think broadly about the greater good rather than focusing only on their own objectives• Are comfortable with complexity• Think outside the box to drive innovation• Are sensitive and adaptable to different cultures• Can handle ambiguity and uncertainty• Are good at systems thinking• Are open to continuous learning and new opportunities• Have a long-term perspective• Have an entrepreneurial spirit and are willing to take the initiative and be accountableA FRAMEWORK FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATIONWhile the different case studies of good practices approachtalent mobility from various points of departure, they share thefollowing principles:1. A clear, common understanding of the problem. This should then be translated into a clearly defined objective that all stakeholders can support.2. A catalyst or driver of collaboration. Beyond a clear articulation of the problem, successful collaboration also requires an agent who can lead the effort, keeping all stakeholders connected and on task.3. Clear and aligned “incentives” for participation and action. People are far more likely to collaborate when they understand that their interests are better served by joining forces with others to take the required actions than by acting alone or opting out. Successful collaborations must avoid the classic economic “tragedy of the commons” by properly providing incentives for the different parties involved so they all keep pulling their weight. 11
  13. 13. 4. A governance mechanism ensuring that the information needed for effective collaboration is actually shared and becomes transparent to all. Effective collaboration requires that the parties agree what information is to be shared – and what can and should be reserved as privileged information. It also requires a “policing” mechanism to ensure that no party holds back information that the group had agreed to share.5. Proof of concept. Keeping the collaborative effort going requires continuous feedback to stakeholders regarding the benefits of collaboration. Unless stakeholders see that they are getting a return for their efforts, they will redirect resources to other priorities.Many stakeholders across all sectors are making great strides intalent mobility despite such challenges. Private and not-for-profitorganisations, government actors and academic institutions need torecognise and fulfil their unique roles in collaborating with the otherprincipal stakeholders to advance their talent mobility practices toachieve an ever-greater impact on talent market imbalances – andbring the practice of talent mobility in line with its promise.For more information on this WEF research conducted in collaboration with Mercer, visitwww.weforum.org and www.mercer.com.CONTACTSPat Milligan is a Mercer Senior Partner and President Talent, Rewards Communication, aswell as a Member of Mercer’s Executive and Operating Committees. Located in New York,she can be reached at pat.milligan@mercer.com.Mike Piker is a Mercer Partner and Lead International Human Capital Consultant. Based inNew York, he can be reached at +1 212 345 2138 or mike.piker@mercer.com.Anne Schult is a Mercer Senior Associate and the WEF/Mercer Talent Mobility ResearchProject Manager. Based in New York, she can be reached at +1 212 345 1449 oranne.schult@weforum.org.Joan Pennington is a Mercer Principal and Talent Management expert. Based in Amsterdam,she can be reached at +31 20 431 3992 or joan.pennington@mercer.com. 12
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