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IABFM Articles > > Human Resources > The Global Talent War: Peace Treaty Anytime Soon?

The Global Talent War: Peace Treaty Anytime Soon?

By Dr. Rand Fandrich, PHR, CHRM

19 May, 2013

IABFM Strategic Human Resource Management Q & A Series: Developed to Educate and assist non-HR business practitioners in understanding current human capital related topics.

"The Global Talent War: Peace Treaty Anytime Soon?"    

Author: Dr. Rand Fandrich, PHR, CHRM

There are few well versed business-people in today's global arena whom have yet to hear the buzz words talent war or war for talent

Q's: Many are starting to ask, however, "Why are we still hearing about and experiencing the phenomena? ...And when will it end? "A's: "Because organizations are continuously and consistently feeling the pressures caused by it!...No time soon!."

To best understand, we review the history and multiple seminary (original) causes, as well as additional factors that have fueled the talent war fire.


The war for talent (talent war) is a term originally coined by Steven Hankin in 1997; as well as a Harvard Business Press book drafted by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones and Beth Axelrod.  The term refers to an increasingly competitive landscape for organizations to ensure the successful recruitment and retention of a talented workforce. 

Root(s) of the Battle:

Multi-Generational Workforce - For the first time in recorded history, we have viewed 4 (sometimes up to 5 generations) working under the same organizational umbrella - The inheritance of generational differences, as well as the simple mathematics of the baby boomer generation outnumbering the Gen X generation lends itself to the talent war.  If Company ABC is scheduled to lose 10 managers during the fiscal year of 2013, and their main competitor XYZ is losing 10 managers the same year- recruiting 8 key managers from a smaller applicant pool is going to produce a 12 person shortage...regardless of what lucky company is able to recruit the talent...

Social Contracts: ...retaining the above talent represents an equally unique issue.  Why is this? Heterogeneous cultures (example: United States) witnessed economic times in which many saw their aunts, parents, next door neighbors, second cousin on their moms side receive pink slips - often causing hardship and sometimes devastation to families and personal relationships.  The outcome resulted in the social contract of employee/employer longevity being severely broken.  That is, long gone (and quickly so) became the days of an employee's duration of work lasting long enough to count on two hands - let alone a life time of service to the same organization.  Today's result reflects a modern workforce that is somewhat comfortable knowing that their employers "owe" them nothing more than the compensation of a day's work - and in return, they are willing to offer no more than one day's work for said compensation. 

Legal Environment: "At Will" laws have been adopted by more social conventions than were previously employed - the legal umbrella of tenured staff has been rein-vented into a "either one of us can say goodbye at any time" model.

Organizational Brain-Drain - With turnover exponentially exceeding prior years, the amount of successfully transferred information from a more senior employee to a newer employee has significantly impacted our global economy (which has transferred from a production economy into a service/knowledge economy over the last couple of decades).


Organizations are continually more mindful in recognizing the importance of Human Capital (talent) on their fiscal success; the latter becoming one of the most imperative realizations that has vaulted the discipline of HR from the historical personnel department into the strategic human resource management function we employ today.

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