The talent imperative in the global chemical industry
How fast can your most valuable talents adapt?
Thriving in times of volatility relies on organisations being able to rapidly adapt and respond to change. Unlike many organisational talents, the workforce is dynamic, and can be a source of competitive advantage in changing times. A robust talent strategy enables organisations to access the workforce needed to deliver strategic priorities and respond to evolving business challenges.
The chemicals industry is undergoing rapid, intense change. To continue delivering shareholder returns in an environment of constrained margins, increasing cyclicality, activist investors and a significant decline in new products, companies are dramatically altering their strategy and business models.
Responding to such challenges requires new capabilities and an agile, innovative workforce, yet companies are having to make these shifts in the face of significant talent challenges. A looming wave of retirements, skills gaps in critical areas and future talent pools that have little awareness or interest in the economic or social value of this industry must all be addressed.
Companies need to respond by sourcing capabilities that support new business models. Emerging business models include ‘natural owners’, ‘differentiated commodities’ and ‘solutions providers’, with different strategic objectives and therefore very different organisation and talent requirements.
How can organisations best determine the talent implications of these business models and objectives? Identifying the most critical talent capabilities and investing in those is key. For example, natural owners must focus on efficiency, operational excellence and an optimized supply chain. Differentiated commodities must provide change leadership, strong legal and finance support and R&D capabilities. Solutions providers require innovation, strategy, analytics and marketing skills and must be able to rapidly scale, flexibly deploy and engage employees through non-traditional performance management. Each of these business models dictate very different talent strategies.
Organisations need to establish capabilities which enable them to rapidly adjust their workforce in response to change. In shaping the talent strategy, the business and HR must collaborate to:
- make talent investments which drive maximum economic value, based on robust internal and external data and insights;
- develop sourcing strategies which differentiate critical workforce segments and consider the full spectrum of options in an open talent economy;
- evolve talent management systems (e.g. knowledge management, organizational development, leadership and culture programs), leveraging latest thinking to deliver specific requirements;
- ensure attraction and retention strategies target non-traditional entrants and methods, offer flexibility and a value proposition that reflects the concerns and values of the future workforce.
The global chemicals industry is entering an exciting new era. The workforce will be the catalyst for making it an attractive, leading industry to build a career. Proactively and collaboratively reshaping the talent strategy in the face of ongoing business and workforce change is an essential business and risk management function. Developing new organisational capabilities (including skills, tools, processes and analytics) which enable ongoing alignment of business strategy and talent investments should be an urgent priority for companies in this industry as they navigate turbulence and continue to deliver shareholder value.
Do you want to know more on talent needs in the chemical industry? Please contact Sarah Rogers at +31 (0)88 288 4406.