Commentary
HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Singapore
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Asian companies more committed to developing leaders than western ones

Why Asia?
With Asia expected to record strong economic growth in 2011 and the influx of foreign direct investment as well as the establishment of multinationals in Asia set to increase, the war for talent is certainly heating up in Asia. The collective regional economy of four billion people in 46 countries, Asia has accumulated USD46 trillion in foreign exchange reserves – more than half of the world’s total.

Recruiting, retaining and developing star talent to realise this growth is a massive challenge for many firms in Asia.

Everyone wants a share of the pie and grow their business substantially. Recruitment is strong across most sectors like property, luxury products and consumer products especially in China; and in sectors like finance, petrochemical and pharmaceuticals in Singapore and the rest of South East Asia.

Spotting talent
As firms look to Asia, they need the right talent in order to grow. Although Asia is populous, not everyone is a talent and brings the right set of skills, knowledge or nous to the job. So the conundrum for firms in Asia is how do they attract, recruit and retain top quality talent to realise the success that is so evident in Asia.

Spotting talent is further complicated by the fact that firms need to present and market a positive and progressive image to a relatively informed talent pool. Individuals and employees are bombarded daily by marketing and recruitment messages trying to lure them into the next best job. The affluence of the region and economies means now that individuals have more options and indeed say in what job or role that they sign up for next. Therefore, branding the firm or organisation becomes an integral part of recruitment to attract the best talent.

A more efficient HR Department
Add to that the daily challenge of managing the chaotic world of workplace culture; rewards, recognition and compensations; training and development; the mobile workforce; and integrating Geneneration Xs, Ys and the baby boomers and suddenly there is a situation where human resource managers are overwhelmed.

Yet, many business managers in Asia now recognise that their biggest and most influential asset and indeed the game changer is their people. Focusing on people and empowering them to run the business is a key problem Asian firms and organisations grapple with on a daily basis. Successful companies have realised exponential results in productivity, customer satisfaction, and obviously as a result in profits.

One solution progressive and leading organisations in Europe and in fact in Asia are adopting is intelligent and strategic outsourcing. By being able to identify and recognise core strengths of organisation and outsourcing the rest to expert service professionals, firms in Asia are able to combine best practices with fundamental strengths to manage for the new growth and success.

By outsourcing areas such as recruitment the hiring process is simplified, managed and measured for maximum success. The extra resources and time available from the freeing up critical brain assets can now be mobilised into other mission critical functions and areas including training, retention, employer branding and employee empowerment programmes.

Chief human resources officers (CHROs) in the Asia are more invested in nurturing future leaders and driving their organisation's growth as compared to their global counterparts.Asian CHROs (40%) are more focused on developing future leaders than their global peers (31%), according to the "Working Beyond Borders 2011" survey by IBM. The shift towards growth is not just about costs, but about finding talent and resources that will make a company successful.

Although HR leaders in ASEAN are keen on developing future talent, they also know that empowering employees is critical. Employees will then show loyalty and support for the longer term goals of the organisation.

The challenge identified by managers in that study was the global view or an awareness that was more cosmopolitan and less parochial was essential to the on-going growth and success in Asia.

They also recognised that as Asia entered the “golden age of growth” employers need to think about rewards and remuneration, salary increment and talent planning in order to keep the best employees.

It is now an “employee’s market” in Asia, empowering employees is important. Empowerment is a key driver of engagement. Employees need to feel appreciated, and this in turn gives an organisation better options for succession planning – an increasingly important factor for success as the economy improves.

Martin Cerullo, Managing Director, Development, Asia Pacific and Global Director, Resourcing Communications & Innovation, Alexander Mann Solutions (outsourcing and consulting services company)

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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