Business Risks: Attaining and retaining top talent

Kim Winter, CEO, Logistics Executive, talks recent employment trends.
Kim Winter, CEO of Logistics Executive.
Kim Winter, CEO of Logistics Executive.


Written by: Kim Winter, CEO of Logistics Executive.

Renewed demand for supply chain and logistics professionals is once again stripping the available talent pools, according to the findings of the recent Global Supply Chain and Logistics Executive Global Employment Survey Report. Talk to any CEO and they will tell you that attracting and retaining talent is one of the top three business risks they are facing.

This is particularly the case in the Logistics and Supply Chain industry, where the Middle East Region is well-established as the key trade hub between Asia, Europe and Africa. As eminent Supply Chain specialist Professor Martin Christopher recently highlighted at the Global CEO Thought Leadership Summit, “One of the biggest impacts on the supply chain of the future will come from global demographic change combined with a redistribution of discretionary spending power.” A key element of this redistribution is the continued growth of the developing world’s middle class consumers' available discretionary income and spending power.

Having recently returned to base myself in the Middle East after five years in AsiaPac, it has been refreshing to reacquaint myself with industry leaders throughout the Gulf and see so many positive developments and growth plans. The welcome I’ve received is synonymous with the hospitality the region is known for across the globe, and the invitations to participate in the recent Global Aerospace Summit (Abu Dhabi) and Ports and Shipping Conference (Abu Dhabi) have underlined the massive investment taking place in aviation and ports across the Gulf in particular.

The vibrancy and strength of our industry in the Middle East was also reinforced by the achievements of so many organisations and individuals at the recent well-attended SCATA Awards. The many achievements celebrated there were a result of key executives and their teams navigating difficult economic conditions to drive businesses forward in spite of very challenging circumstances

As a response to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) that commenced in 2008, most organisations were under pressure to cut costs, and the fastest way of achieving this was headcount. However, as businesses and governments plan for growth in 2012 and beyond, they are looking to high performers to help strengthen their investment strategies and lead them into steady, sustainable business growth.

The economic crisis may have eased the talent shortage a little, but with the Middle East back on a growth path, attracting and retaining the right talent has become difficult again – and many companies don’t have pockets deep enough to pay top end salary packages.

The recent Global Supply Chain and Logistics Employment Market Survey Report shows that, whilst in 2008-2009 the GFC had significant impact on confidence and therefore the demand for talent, 2011 -2012 has seen a return of confidence in talent demands with 58.1 per cent of business leaders forecasting increases in head count for 2012.

The annual survey which is sent to over 70,000 supply chain and logistics executives in 82 countries (with a 15 per cent response rate) identified key trends, including a greater willingness of candidates to move nationally and internationally, and to accept challenging employment conditions, in order to attain desired executive positions. The survey also underlined the fact that career advancement continues to be a primary consideration for executives joining another organisation. It also showed that when it comes to leaving an employer, particularly in emerging markets, money still is the number one motivator as to why people depart.

Of those business leaders surveyed, 53.2 per cent had increased staff numbers in 2010-2011, with 63.7 per cent of respondents claiming it was now harder than ever before to find quality staff.
The results demonstrate a widening gap between employer expectations of fair and reasonable annual pay increases and those demanded by employees.

The report revealed that whilst most employees are not actively looking for another job, the large majority would be open to offers from other companies.

Employment Market Survey Report indicates that the top five drivers of employee retention are: career development; competitive pay and rewards; employer values and appropriate work-life balance; effective leadership and job security.

In summary, as our industry (government and private enterprise) in this region continues to make the most of its excellent geographic location for growth in world trade, the demand for good talent is not going away any time soon. For organisations to perform to their maximum potential, it is essential for stronger than ever alignment between business strategy, leadership direction, human resources planning, and line management operations to ensure talent is acquired and deployed at the right time and in the right place to achieve required organisational outcomes.

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