The Changing Talent Landscape And What It Means For You (By Jocelyn)

Vinco Game Changers Education

Success Mentor Series

Speaker: Su-Yen Wong

21 January 2015



The Changing Talent Landscape And What It Means For You

*Click here to see more images of the event!*

In the dynamic world we are living in right now, everyone is feeling the effects of Globalisation coupled with the rapid rate of advances in technology. Having a wealth of experience solving companies’ problems for the past twenty years, Su-Yen Wong understands that while people are now hyperconnected (thanks to the internet), there is still a mismatch of jobs and talent around the globe. From the viewpoints of both employee and employer, she shares with us the changing talent landscape, and ways to evolve and keep up with the game.


How Has the World Changed?

Gone are the years where people held jobs in the same company for 20, 30 or 40 years. What used to be a business lifecycle of 20 to 100 years, following a gradual curve of rise and decline, has been shockingly compressed to an average of 5 to 7 years for most companies. Examples of Kodak and Nokia can teach us about the need to evolve.

Kodak developed the first ever digital camera in 1975, but today, almost all of Eastman Kodak has disappeared from the radar. Another company with a heritage of over a 100 years before its decline is Nokia. Our generation knows Nokia for its mobile phones – but now, phones have come a long way since, and Nokia has disappeared quietly.

What was one of the reasons that these two companies failed, even with their long histories and successes right up to the early 2000s? It was their inability to evolve to the rapidly changing business landscape.
How are Employees Affected?

Su-Yen brought to our attention the advent of jobs and positions that did not or barely existed 5 years ago: Social media interns, iOS developers, Zumba instructors, data scientists and the beach body instructor (read more here). The future will only be more uncertain – do you look forward to body part makers, time brokers, avatar managers and vertical farmers?

Technology is advancing on so many fronts at breakneck speed, and the truth is that our schools and work force cannot catch up as quickly. Increasingly, buzzwords like ‘alignment’ and ‘fit’ are being used. In big tech companies like Twitter or Facebook, a college degree does not guarantee you employment. Employees of the new future would have to stretch themselves and go beyond this traditional way of looking at employability in order to avoid structural unemployment.



Su-Yen talked about these three competencies:

Besides being qualified or having the necessary skills to perform the job, soft skills such as creativity, resilience, flexibility, collaboration, communication skills all add to your value. When companies look at employees in this holistic manner (all three) versus just one or two aspects, they will be able to make better promoting or hiring decisions. It is as important to hire for technical capabilities as well as fit within the team and other soft skills. Companies must be clear on the competencies they are seeking to begin with!


Attracting the Right People

An employee value proposition (EVP) is what the company offers in terms of rewards and benefits in exchange for the employees’ skills, capabilities and experiences (Minchington ,2005). Su-Yen pointed out four trends that are gaining more ground in companies: Employee health and wellness, alternate talent pools, workplace flexibility and interest in development. The Mercer 2011 survey shows an increase in perks and fringe benefits across surveyed companies; increasingly, companies are also offering previously unheard of (and fancy) lifestyle benefits in a bid to attract talent.

Su-Yen advises SMEs and startups to think creatively if they cannot afford to pay top dollar for talent. Perhaps give employees the freedom to choose their fringe benefits, allow flexible working arrangements and/or offer training and upgrading opportunities? What you can offer your staff beyond the monetary compensation will make a difference to an ever-evolving workforce who are seeking more than just a monthly salary.

When your EVP matches what the employee is seeking, you can expect engagement and commitment from the employee, resulting in a very desirable situation for both parties.


What Else Can Companies Do?

In Singapore, a third (~34%) of our labour pool is untapped, either due to disabilities, retirement or are unemployed. About 700,000 of these people are below 60, and this alternate talent pool is a good place to look for employees. Many of these people cannot or do not plan to join the workforce, but there is a percentage who want to work but cannot find suitable work arrangements (e.g. housewives). If some of your company’s roles or tasks can be fulfilled from home, consider allowing flexible work arrangements.

On top of the new lifestyle benefits that you can offer within your budget, career advancement opportunities and helping employees to align their strengths to the passions will all lead to the retention of staff. Employees with the right core skill set, which includes most training and experiences beyond basic technical capabilities, will be able to grow with your company in the long-term.

Su-Yen mentioned these two books: The World is Flat, in which Thomas L. Friedman explains and demystifies Globalisation and how to adapt to it; and In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. – The book has drawn lessons from the leading 43 American companies in the 1980s, and for years it was a widely read and well-received title. Thirty years on, the 8 principles have stood the test of time, and will continue to guide people in management roles toward excellence.
Question and Answer Session by Su-Yen Wong

(1) Hiring vs outsourcing staff?

Traditional hiring will still be the main staffing method, as permanent staff are still required in companies. There will likely be an increase in more free agents being employed, but this requires structure in order to be effective.

(2) Should the accountability of talent management shift to leaders (and companies)?

It works both ways. Some people choose not to adapt! But the best situation is where both employee and employer evolve together. Employers can do better by hiring based on fit and alignment.
(3) Will the sharing of staff between a few companies work well?

Job sharing will become more common, but it will likely be individuals working on a project until it is completed before taking on a new project – not one person working on alternate days at two companies, doing the same role. Also, there must be employment contracts in place to protect both parties’ interests.

(4) Aptitude tests – should we alter our answers to suit the job position?

Employee evaluation methods like the DISC test is usually never used in isolation, but it does provide information if the candidate is a good fit for the job and the culture. It is not foolproof to assume what the company and the hiring manager is looking for. It is better to find a job and company that is aligned to what you are looking for personally.

(5) How can employees help hiring managers?

Unfortunately, most hiring is done based on “feel” and the process may not be structured enough. As an individual, you should ask questions! Look out on the company’s website, job post and any news articles to help you get clues on what behavioural aspects are important. More importantly, know what is important to you (and what you want); you do not want to end up in a job where you don’t fit in.

Did you enjoy the talk by Su-Yen (Chairman of Marsh and McLennan Singapore)? We certainly hope that it has given you insights on how to be on top of the game in a changing talent landscape. Vinco Global has an exciting lineup of inspiring speakers and opportunities to meet new people. Check out our latest lineup of distinguished speakers and events!


Written by

Jocelyn Ke, Entrepreneur