Sunday, October 08, 2006

Talent War and Organizational Strategies

The talent shortage just seems to be getting more acute and so is the war for talent becoming fiercer. The war appears to be on an intense pitch in the high tech industries where key to survival and growth is the mind power of the workforce. The Economist reports that large and growing number of businesses outside the tech industry—from consulting to hedge funds—are also facing the heat. It talks the various strategies adopted by the likes Accenture and Mckinsey to attract and retain talent.

Clearly there is more to good management than hiring the best and the brightest. Among other things, it requires rewarding experience as well as talent, and applying strong ethical codes and internal controls. Indeed, talent-intensive businesses have a particular interest in maintaining high ethical standards. Whereas in manufacturing industries a decline in such standards is often slow, in talent-intensive ones it can be terrifyingly sudden, as Arthur Andersen and Enron found to their cost.

All the same, structural changes are making talent ever more important. The deepest such change is the rise of intangible but talent-intensive assets. Baruch Lev, a professor of accounting at New York University, argues that “intangible assets”—ranging from a skilled workforce to patents to know-how—account for more than half of the market capitalization of America's public companies.

The writing is clear on the wall and every business is getting affected by the talent shortage. Depending upon the nature of the business organizations have to come with a rewarding and challenging strategy for attracting, developing and retaining talent. Most of the high tech industries like Google and Microsoft have not only worked on developing a unique employer brand proposition but have also created a positive connect with prospective employees through other sources like blogs.

One of the biggest challenges in retaining continues to create opportunities which individual employees find challenging as well identify with. Managing individual career aspirations is something which is going to be critical differentiator in enabling organizations to stay ahead in this war for talent.

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