January 2013
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TD Magazine

Critical Human Capital Capabilities

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Each year in their Creating People Advantage study, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and World Federation of People Management Associations examine how global human capital challenges are changing. The 2012 report, Mastering HR Challenges in a Two-Speed World, focuses on the unique complexities arising from a global economic dichotomy: Business leaders face weak economic growth in developed countries and rapid growth in developing countries, resulting in perplexing people management challenges.


To better understand these human capital issues, the report presents 22 priority topics and asks survey participants three questions for each: How capable is your company in this area today, how important is this topic currently, and what future importance do you assign this matter? The report identifies those topics ranked most important in the future and in which companies show the lowest capabilities as the most pressing people management challenges.

Of these top challenges, managing talent, improving leadership development, and strategic workforce planning are most critical. According to Peter Tollman, senior partner and managing director at BCG, and lead of its People and Organization Practice in the Americas, the study finds that effectiveness in these three areas—building leaders; talent attraction, development, and retention; and tracking performance transparently for use in performance management—is a critical differentiation when comparing high- and low-performing companies.

On a global scale, managing talent is the top human capital priority for businesses worldwide. According to the report, "It remains apparent that companies still perceive their current capabilities to be insufficient to cover expected future demands, which is hardly surprising given the growing shortage of worldwide talent." Leaders in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific regions rank talent management as their number one concern.


Companies worldwide also consider several topics to be of low current and future importance, including actively using web 2.0 for HR, integrating global people management and expansion, providing shared services and outsourcing HR, managing an aging workforce, and managing work-life balance.

As far as the bottom line, Tollman explains that for 21 of the 22 human capital areas, companies that show the highest capabilities also boast greater revenue growth and profit margins than those with low HR capabilities. Specifically those businesses effective at onboarding and retention, managing talent, employee branding, performance management and rewards, and leadership development outshine the rest.

About the Author

Ann Parker is Associate Director, Talent Leader Consortiums at ATD. In this role she drives strategy, product development, and content acquisition for ATD’s senior leader and executive audience. She also oversees business development and program management for ATD's senior leader consortiums, CTDO Next and ATD Forum.

Ann began her tenure at ATD in an editorial capacity, primarily writing for TD magazine as Senior Writer/Editor. In this role she had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content. She then became a Senior Content Manager for Senior Leaders & Executives, focusing on content and product development for the talent executive audience, before moving into her current role.

Ann is a native Pennsylvanian where she currently resides, marathoner, avid writer, baker and eater of sweets, wife to an Ironman, and mother of two.

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