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

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann 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.

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