Business As Usual

The scarce resource of talent how companies can survive the battle

Ralph Fajardo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Time used to be when financial, professional and personal security meant clinching a job in a highly regarded local or multinational firm, rising above the ranks, and retiring comfortably after the kids have gone to college and established their own families.

Today’s corporate world is no longer as black and white as it used to be, as proven by a cursory look at the job descriptions, work lifestyle and interpersonal dynamics of the workforce in any industry these days.

“If before, employees would only be looking for security of tenure, today’s workforces are more practical and would be looking more for value rather than just retirement benefit,” says Armi Treñas, a learning and development expert based in the Philippines and also the founder and principal consultant of Learning & Performance Partners Inc. (LPPI).

She affirms that employees are now looking for other things that previous generations did not put too much value on. “For instance, they are more inclined now to accept jobs from organizations that are just near their homes and offers flexibility,” she explains. This is most evident in the call center and business process outsourcing or BPO industry, which has seen a phenomenal boom in the past decade.

There is also intense competition not only among jobseekers, but even those already employed – and rightfully so, since employees today can no longer rely on security of tenure given the cutthroat business environment as well, filled with mergers, acquisitions and even company closures.

In a sense, the job market has become a “buyer’s market” as well because of the leverage that graduates and professionals talent have developed in being cautious and choosing the right job for themselves.

Treñas has seen this situation for herself, having conducted training programs for various corporate clients as well as government agencies for more than a decade now. In the country, she is a pioneering champion of the discipline of instructional design, which seeks to enhance training and learning programs by coming up with the right blueprint – from needs analysis to training implementation, and most importantly, output and effectivity measures.

Working with human resources (HR) managers, she noticed that some organizations spend a lot of time and resources in recruiting the right people, only to lose them out to competitors later on. Meanwhile, there are others who take in employees for fear of losing out on the market, and then rely heavily on training to shape up or fit people into their roles.

“What needs to be considered would be the entire talent value chain – how to manage it, keeping in mind both the internal and external situation,” says Treñas.

The economy of talent

This is where Treñas has found and ascribed to a way of thinking that best suits talent management these days, called “talent economics.” Today, talent management is taking on the dynamics of a lucrative  economy wherein organizations, in order to survive, will have to find ways of luring the appropriate talent they need – and retaining them within the organization – using the right strategies and tools. In other words, as global business continues to converge, the risks get higher and the issues become more complex.

It is a modern way of looking at talent management issues through the eyes of an economist, using the same principles and tenets as supply and demand, cost opportunity, and the like. The idea behind this concept was first introduced in a seminal publication with the same title by Gyan Nagpal, an award-winning talent  strategist based in Singapore.

Nagpal describes talent economics as “the fine line between winning and losing the global war for talent.” Having worked in various HR departments of multinational companies throughout his career, Nagpal gained valuable insights into what truly drives the workforce in the 21st century.

In his book, Nagpal encourages today’s HR leaders “to think like an economist” and act like someone who studies and directs allocation of finite resources.

“Increasingly, many HR leaders have to answer questions that have an economic issue at their core — the allocation of a scant resource called talent,” he wrote in his book.

As a learning and development professional, Treñas has found talent economics a perfect complement to her advocacy of a more strategic approach to learning and training and enabling HR professionals to maximize the benefits of these programs.

“If a company’s problems may be solved by training people, then we conduct appropriate programs and help them gauge the results. But if it’s an organizational or system problem, it’s a different matter,” explains Treñas of the importance of looking at the bigger talent value chain.

Learning partnership

Treñas was fortunate enough to personally encounter Nagpal in her consultancy work abroad, helping establish corporate learning universities for her clients. She, in turn, took time to read his book and learn about the talent economy theory.

Just as she has committed to a personal and professional advocacy of changing the way clients think about training, she has also committed to spreading the good news of the idea of talent economics in the corporate arena.

Treñas has partnered with Nagpal in bringing to Manila the Certified Talent Economist program. It will introduce HR professionals and business decision-makers to talent economics across four main topics: business and talent strategy, diagnosing talent needs, investing in talent and leadership engagement. The course will be implemented in various phases: learning,  practice or application, as well as review and sharing.

Participants who are able to complete the course shall receive perpetual and license-free use of all the tools and frameworks included in the “Talent Economics” book of Nagpal. They will also be given continuous industry support privileges such as profiles on the Talent Economists website.

Nagpal is bringing the program around the globe, in Singapore, Malaysia, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as in the Middle East. In the Philippines, the course will be held at the Asian Institute of Management  Conference Center in Makati City from June 3 to 5, 2015. “Talent economics will modernize the way talent is being developed today. It will be a valuable anchor in designing strategic learning and development  programs. So whether  you are in talent acquisition and development, or responsible for driving talent retention, talent economics will inform your strategy and guide your decisions,” concludes Treñas.










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