Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Talent Management in Asia

So, I’m finally trying to catch up on my previous two weeks away (then I’ll have to catch up on what I’m doing now!). Singapore first.

I love doing workshops like this – I love talking about talent management, I love the different experiences and perspectives you get in a group created from people from six countries, and I particularly love putting all of this together in South East Asia.

I’ve already posted on the war for talent in China, and the Chinese case studies we were using for the workshop, but this war is critical throughout the rest of Asia as well.

It faces the same challenges we do in the rest of the world - for example an ageing workforce (see slide), but does so in spades.

This was highlighted recently in StepStone's 2008 Total Talent survey, researched and prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report of the survey finds that:

  • 44% of business leaders believed the Asia-Pacific region offered their business the best opportunities for revenue growth;
  • 52% of companies said that Asian candidates’ pay expectations were too high, compared with just 42% in North America, and;
  • 55% of companies stated that candidates in Asia lacked appropriate skills, compared with 47% who claimed the same for Europe.

The report highlights four major recruitment and retention obstacles cited by executives in Asia:

  • Rising wage and pay demands among potential candidates
  • A lack of suitable candidates to recruit and a lack of appropriate skills among potential candidates
  • A perceived lack of career opportunities among current employees
  • Employee perceptions that pay and benefits could be better elsewhere.

Like China, this is a market in which the demand for talented individuals far outweighs the supply.

Stepstone conclude:

“Many companies will have to prepare themselves for a huge battle for talent, one that is even tougher than in Europe and North America. Asia is seen as the engine for growth but without the right people, businesses will see their engine splutter and may not get out of first gear.

Without a clear, formal talent management strategy in place, companies will find it difficult to get – and more importantly, keep – the people they need and may
struggle to realise the growth they are promising their shareholders.”

Given the extent of this challenge, companies in China and Asia may need to look at how they create as well as add value for their businesses through talent management.

For example, at the workshop, we considered one company operating in a traditional sector and one suggestion was that they needed to focus more on more innovative business areas, possibly through partnerships with western organizations, in order to attract the sort of talent they required to grow the more mature part of their business.