Talent is at the top of the agenda for many executives around the world and this is especially true for the chemical industry. Growing demand for skilled resources is driving the need to recruit, train, motivate and retain employees across the organization. Forward-looking chemical companies are fighting the new war for talent with innovative tools and strategies designed to help hire more women and Millennials, leverage the value of senior workers, develop cross-generational corporate cultures and support local talent in emerging markets.
As the global economy recovers from the downturn and the chemical industry remains in expansion mode, chemical companies struggle to find and retain professionals in sales, marketing, finance and other areas. An especially troubling development is the growing shortage of applicants with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.
Added pressures on talent supply include an aging workforce with increased rates of retirement, the reluctance of younger workers to consider a career in chemicals, and limited efforts to retain and promote women. Talent scarcity is also on the rise in emerging countries as local markets expand and diversify.
Many organizations are turning to more inclusive, holistic strategies for finding the talent they need. The following represents a sample of best practices in talent management for chemical companies.
Recruiting and supporting women: Effective talent management for women must involve a rigorous review of the company’s employee value proposition and culture. This can be used to develop and guide specific initiatives dedicated to hiring women for a larger range of roles, including engineering, R&D and senior management.
Managing Millennials: Workers in their thirties, often referred to as Millennials, represent the next generation of employees. Chemical companies need to stress both immediate opportunities for training and advancement as well as longer-term career possibilities to attract good talent.
Leveraging the experience of senior workers: Chemical companies should prepare now for the growing exodus of retiring workers. Senior workers can transfer their knowledge and experience to younger workers through informal mentoring and on-the-job training.
Gauge performance and guide success with data analytics: New technologies include robust data and analytics capabilities, allowing HR functions to evaluate and make evidence-based decisions that positively impact the business.
Partnering for education and leadership development: As with other industries, an investment in education and leadership development is critical to the future of the chemical industry.
Developing local talent in emerging markets: Many talent shortages are local, not global. Joint ventures and programs supported by multinational companies provide good vehicles for talent sharing and development.
Talent is not just an HR issue. Management should connect with their people, motivate them, think about their development needs as an employee and assure them of a fulfilling career within the organization. At the end of the day, the entire organization should be taking part in this development process. Waging the ‘war for talent’ is really everyone’s business.