No One Size Fits All for Talent

The Talent Project Blog

There is no one-size-fits-all for managing talent. Yet, many organizations still behave as though Business people in full suit discussing in an officethere is. The wake-up call of changing workforce demographics and the mismatch between the skills that organizations need, and those that are on the market, is taking a greater toll on productivity and competitiveness.

As unemployment climbs in southern European markets and jobs remain unfilled in others, the question of how best to match skill with opportunity becomes more pressing. Almost 9 in 10 companies are experiencing a talent shortage, according to research by McKinsey, and three-quarters say that the inability to find skilled workers continues to have a negative effect on their business. Even though there are many workers who are suffering under frustrating under-employment, and multiple markets where unemployment remains high, critical skills are in short supply and some job vacancies are going unfilled.

The key challenges for employers across the EU are to:

  • Fill critical skill gaps in a timely and efficient way
  • Manage flexible, contingent workers without raising the organization’s risk profile
  • Move work to the worker rather than the other way around
  • Keep talent engaged and retained wherever possible, even across borders

As organizations seek new strategies to improve competitiveness, the key issue of skills mobility—how to match the available opportunities with the right resources—becomes more critical. Despite economic uncertainty and unemployment growth, companies are still finding it difficult to find the talent they need—and this challenge isn’t going away. Instead, companies are looking for solutions to adapt the talent gap. But how? Here are three suggestions:

1. Provide challenging work in flexible ways

Perhaps one of the most effective adaptation strategies of all is to give employees what they really want. This doesn’t necessarily mean higher salaries, greater security or promises of advancement over the long term—it means giving them flexible work options alongside attractive opportunities, challenges and new skills wherever possible.

2. Respect the need for improved work/life balance

With the demographics of an aging workforce now bearing down on talent supply, plus a greater social recognition of the need to balance work commitments with family and community responsibilities, work-life balance is a key issue for retaining talented staff. German car manufacturer Volkswagen has implemented a “cell-phone-pause” to reduce burnout and ensure greater separation between ‘work-time’ and ‘non-work- time’. At the end of 2011, the company made an agreement with the works council to halt mobile calls outside working hours.

3. Apply a talent supply chain approach

By integrating supply and demand data with the principles of supply chain management, businesses can begin to evolve their strategies of accessing and managing talent to fit better with current-day business cycles. This helps them:

  • Determine the critical and pivotal skills for their organization (those jobs that are key to success, such as engineers for petrochemical companies)
  • Assess the real market value of a particular skill or qualification
  • Determine how long it will take on average to find those skills; and
  • Understand how skill demand and supply differs across regions and markets

Moving to a supply chain management model first requires data. It requires a true understanding of the skills and projects that are critical to business success, and then a broad enough and well-maintained network to be able to access those skills on a just- in-time basis.

For more adaptation strategies for the EU market, download our full white paper, How to Adapt to the Talent Gap.