IBM Study: Global Hiring, Social Media Value Rising

More than 700 chief human resource officers (CHROs) and senior executives worldwide say the foundation of workforce investment is shifting and they are seeing more hiring in Europe and North America, according to a new IBM study released Oct. 12, 2010.

Additionally, social networking is having a broader impact on a company’s bottom line, and HR executives realize that they need to do a better job cultivating leaders, the study found.

In a release from IBM, the company said that the findings suggest that as companies grow globally, the need to identify workforces with the creativity, speed and flexibility necessary to take advantage of growth opportunities has become paramount, prompting businesses to expand their workforce presence in Western Europe, North America and other markets.

The IBM Institute for Business Value conducted the 2010 IBM Global Chief Human Resource Officer study, Working Beyond Borders, between November 2009 and April 2010.

It polled 707 executives from 61 countries and 21 industries—many of them face to face.

Findings show that despite the economy, organizations continue to position talent in diverse areas around the world.

Other findings reveal:

  • 45 percent of companies in India plan to hire more people in North America, and 44 percent will expand in Western Europe.
  • 33 percent of firms in China plan to hire more workers in North America, and 14 percent will increase headcount in Western Europe.

“The silver lining of globalization is that shift toward expansion will require companies to redirect their workforce to locations that provide the greatest opportunities—not just the lowest costs—and at the same time, re-imagine their management strategies to reflect an increasingly dynamic workforce,” said Denis Brousseau, vice president, organization and people, IBM Global Business Services, in a news release.

“More than ever before, competitive success will [cause] the leadership talent to assimilate information and share insights among a diverse group of employees around the globe.”

To make the most of growth opportunities and unlock the potential of the workforce, CHROs will need to focus on three areas they say are highly important but currently beyond their ability to achieve: developing future leaders, developing workforce skills, and fostering knowledge-sharing and collaboration, the study revealed.

Another key finding: The ability to identify, develop and empower effective, agile leaders is a critical imperative for CHROs by 2013. Many revealed, too, that they are failing to develop workforce skills and capabilities.

“To better support the next generation of products, we want to develop a workforce that is agile, able to quickly pick up on trends, gets leadership support and is disciplined in its execution of business strategy,” Anne-Marie Leslie, senior vice president, human resources, for Cochlear Limited told IBM.

In addition, the study revealed that while many might regard social networking and collaboration as a “soft” skill, study data suggests it can have bottom-line consequences.

According to the release:

  • Financial outperformers, according to an approximate measure of a company's operating cash flow or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, are 57 percent more likely than underperformers to use collaborative and social networking tools to enable global teams to work together more effectively.
  • Respondents indicated they most frequently employ collaboration tools to enhance the effectiveness of corporate communications and learning programs and to target and recruit external candidates.
  • 27 percent of companies have used such tools to spread innovation more widely.
  • 23 percent used them to preserve critical knowledge.
  • 21 percent of companies have recently increased the amount they invest in the collaboration tools and analytics despite the economic downturn.
  • 19 percent of respondents regularly use collaborative technologies to find people with relevant skills and knowledge.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.