News Article

Global Panel Reviews Recruitment and Retention Challenges in Asia and Europe

March 15, 2012

According to participants in the CHRO Summit global panel, recruitment and retention will likely remain a top concern for companies operating outside the U.S., driven in part by increased competition for talent in Asia, as well as new regulations and demographic stresses in Europe.  Moderated by Knight Kiplinger, Editor in Chief and President of The Kiplinger Washington Editors, the panel explored key questions of talent attraction and corporate culture development.

  • As the Chinese and Indian economies develop, companies are finding themselves in an ever more challenging war for talent at the mid-to-high skilled levels.  In facing that challenge, companies also have to factor in issues of geographic mobility as part of their employees’ development.  As Jill Smart, Chief Human Resources Officer at Accenture noted, “Because our people move around so much our company is staffed in a very borderless manner anyway, especially since we have no headquarters, no home office.  Though not in all countries, we typically will send a leader overseas who is a rising star with good leadership qualities, ideally of [the host country's] national descent.  But then we immediately build the leadership team locally and then get out.  Companies that have a local footprint do have an advantage as they can offer mobility opportunities, but career development is more than mobility.”
  • Amy Lau, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Employee Relations Group (APERG), explained that wage increases in China have prompted the migration of low-tech manufacturing to other parts of Asia, which has in turn created local political tension.  According to Michael Rohret, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Emerson, "Because it is such a large market, multinational companies will still be in China to compete for the Chinese domestic market.  But some of their low tech-type jobs will gradually migrate away into other Asian countries.  For China and all of us, this is a big change.  China wants to focus primarily on growing high-tech jobs and developing a middle-class workforce."
  • In addition to finding local talent, companies addressed the importance of building a global corporate culture and the role expats will continue to play to that end.  HR Policy's Chair of Asian Affairs, Anne Hill, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Avery Dennison, commented that, while local leaders are vital, “At a minimum, expats are needed for technology transfers, and I think they will always be relevant as part of our global management team.”  James McGill, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer for Eaton Corporation, underlined the importance of building a unified corporate culture, adding, “There are a lot of local best practices that we can incorporate into our culture, but if someone is not with the program, fundamentally we won’t accept that.”
  • In Europe, HR Policy’s Global HR Initiative Chairman William Allen, Senior Vice President of A.P. Moller-Maersk Group predicted that, “the next ten years are going to be about deleveraging in one form or another” — be it debt, social expenditures, political ties or all of the above.  “I think the big issue is demographics…  By 2050, Europe will be short about 40 million workers — how are they going to handle that without immigration?”  Tom Hayes, Managing Partner of BEERG also noted fundamental political shifts on the horizon.  In the coming years the politics of austerity will probably slow down, but there is still the basic imbalance between the relatively strong northern economies, and the so-called "club-med" countries in the south.