The HR roundtable at Sanofi was hosted by Lynette Ng who heads up talent management in APAC. The provocative topic “The Talent Challenge: Why it still persists?” saw an enthusiastic group of more than 30 come together at the new, swanky downtown location, South Beach Tower. The flamboyant style of the host, great assortment of break snacks, the active participation and an off-agenda sharing of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine capped off an educational and interactive session.

Everyone was happy to participate in the discussion of the various internal and external factors contributing to the talent challenge.

The education challenge and continuous learning

The school system is not doing enough to prepare the entry-level workforce and the company is left to fill the gap. Success in school does not necessarily translate to success at work. This is an increasingly complex world. More needs to be done to prepare the student for their first job.

Employees also tend to stop learning once they start working. They need to view learning as a “running tap” that should never be switched off.

Managing different expectations

Much has been said about managing the different expectations of the different generations of employees, but how many companies actually get it right? It seems that attracting and retaining millennials are still a top concern for most in attendance. A key to understanding millennials lies in their family environment. Millennials tend to have working parents and are not needed to “put bread on the table”. They tend to place more importance on work-life balance so that they can pursue a higher purpose or other personal, family or social goals. They tend to gravitate towards organisations that are responsible corporate, social and environmental citizens.

Getting the equation right

Mobilizing talent is another delicate balancing act. Hoarding talent and getting the return on talent mobility are two key obstacles.

Participants stated that one of their common challenges with mobilising talent internally was around hoarding good talent: certain teams or regions would hoard their talent, instead of letting high performers move about the organisation freely. Some said that it was not always easy getting or measuring the return on their talent mobility investments. A few others mentioned their challenges with getting employees to move to less attractive locations or creating enough opportunities for meaningful assignments and rotations.


Should HR run Finance?

Maybe not run it per se, but the idea that HR needs to cross-pollinate, get experience outside of HR (in Finance or IT, for example) isn’t a new idea, and it seems to be growing as a necessary skillset as the bond between the business and HR strengthens.

HR Analytics

Analytics should provide an insight that ultimately leads to the right changes in behaviours (be it personal, cultural or technological. Analytics should be the powerful engine behind building that strong business case for change.

In the talent challenge, HR analytics is an ally that can help an organisation identify more accurately where the pain points or potential trouble spots might be. Some industries, like Consulting and Professional Services, have been employing analytical tools to help determine their talent demand and supply equation in the war for fresh graduates. Other organisations are slowly and surely embarking on this journey.

The talent challenge continues to persist, and HR must work proactively with (and influence) both internal and external stakeholders to crack the “talent code”.

Here's what participants had to say:

Firstly, great to network with so many accomplished colleagues. It struck me that many companies are still wrestling with the concept of balancing the demands they have for new capabilities in their organisation versus the internal and external supply of talent. The ‘predictive ability’ required to bring together a strategic business plan and derive the human capital implications of that strategy, seems to be at the heart of the need – some organisations appear to be more advanced in this regard, but many are still searching for answers.

Lorraine Parker-Clegg, Vice President, Human Resources APAC at Medtronic

Bringing brains and expertise together gave me lots of new insights that I can use moving forward.

Peter Raar, Head of HR APAC at DLL