Welcome to the age of “Entrepreneurial Talent”

Talent in the workplace will probably continue to be on the ‘Top 10’ list of Organizational Challenges for years to come. If Talent is not on your list, then this is a wake-up call!

Rare are the chats among Business professionals that do not come across the Talent Challenge. If it is not about the difficulty in finding and attracting good people, then it must be about rewarding and retaining people, let alone discussions on career and succession planning. This topic is indeed proving to be a big pain both to Operations and HR professionals, and in many cases to the organization as a whole. The speed at which people land in your company, and that at which they leave is many times unconceivable. Businesses that are able to retain people for more than 4 years are in fact lucky, as many of their peers are not even succeeding with a 2 years shot!

But why is Talent revealing this level of unrest? Why do they seem to be always seeking change, although many times not for the better more so than for the sake of change itself? Digging into it, I managed to spot 3 main causes:

1. Choice and the Globalization of Talent

Although the term ‘Globalization’ has been there for almost three decades now, we never felt its real effect at the individual level until few years back. We all thought of Globalization as a concept having to do with economy and socioeconomic global issues that required the attention of everybody in the World. We associated with those concepts but never experienced their direct impact on our lives.
This however changed drastically as Businesses – worldwide – began to see the opportunity of acquiring cross-border talent at a much lower price, marking the start of Talent Globalization. With the urge for cost optimization, rapid market response, creativity and innovation, etc., demand for Talent – regardless of nationality, race, religion, age, and gender – sky rocketed. All what the market wanted was highly qualified Talent.
As such, Talent became globalized. This opened the door for a global workforce influx from all cultures and regions into the marketplace. Consequently, Talent saw the opportunity in going global and was never hesitant in moving to wherever Opportunity meets Personal Aspirations. It is this state of unlimited choice that acted as the first factor for destabilizing talent.

2. The Entrepreneurial Spree

This dynamic was the second destabilizing factor. Too much emphasis in the past two decades was put on building trust and self-esteem into new Generations. Self-dependence, freedom of choice and expression, and augmented sense of self-worth, made young talent up and ready for the next Business challenge. Further, the unending stories of teenagers and early-twenties youth striking gold in launching their own Businesses turned the attention of talent into Entrepreneurship.

From a paradigm perspective, I like to read this historically across 3 generations. Our Parents stood for “A Job for Life” paradigm. They joined companies and wanted to stay there until retirement, with minimal concern about progress and growth. Generation X stood for the “Career Advancement & Promotion” paradigm. We wanted to join companies where we can get trained, developed and promoted to higher positions. New generations – namely Y and Z – are standing for the “Entrepreneurship” paradigm. They were taught to think and act independently; they were dogmatized to do it their own way, hence the entrepreneurial spree that we are noticing.

3. Power of the Web and Digitization

Ranging from smart phones to Apps; from smart watches to home automation and connected vehicles, digitization rendered business extremely affordable, cost and time wise. Actually, it is awkward for someone with minimal entrepreneurial tendencies not to set up a business on the web and around digitization. Starting such a business can range from affordable to free, so what would you do? This exposed submerged-talent globally to investors and idea hunters including Private Equity firms, Venture Capitalists, Banks, and others. And by the way, many of that Talent were your and my employees! Now, with this in mind, who of us wouldn’t try setting up his/her own venture?

The dilemma created by this situation is how Businesses should deal with its Talent onward? Obviously, old tricks of Attraction and Retention with generous incentive programs will not work effectively anymore. So, what should Businesses do about this?

1. Stop using the same paradigm that was used with our parents and us (job for life, career plans, and promotions), it will not work. Start using Entrepreneurial Approaches like idea funding, real profit sharing, sponsorship for creativity hubs, etc.
2. Agree with Talent on their expected stay-time to allow you to plan attrition in a proactive manner, hence rendering you ready when talent wants to leave.
3. It is neither about Google’s loose corporate environment, nor about fat incentives, sleek Values, and articulate Visions and Missions anymore. It is about interlocking Company Goals with Talent Goals allowing both to reach their objectives within a given timeline.
4. Start building ‘Talent Tanks’. Invest in Talent at large, not necessarily your employees. Having good people out there whom you trained extremely well and who carry the genes of your business mindset is always a great and accessible source of talent whenever needed. And of course, do not worry about the investment it will pay back; otherwise consider it part of your CSR initiatives.
5. Start thinking ‘Project-basis’. A modified version of freelancing will be the future of Talent acquisition. The more the Entrepreneurial Spree persevere the more effective it will be to work around ‘Talent on demand’ mentality. This way both Business and Talent would remain free and wanting to work with each other again.

Bottom line, it seems that a lot of our ‘used-to-work’ strategies in Human Resources will not yield expected results onward. Human Capital professionals need to experience a paradigm shift to fit Entrepreneurial Talent’s wavelength. They should further educate themselves about the mentality and thinking patterns of that Talent, and the trends affecting their lives. Still, Business owners also need to accept that it is no more about how to make money from their idea, rather about how to make money from and in collaboration with other people’s ideas.