Technology is generating data at a nanosecond pace, constantly shifting the sands of how organizations can use data to maximize organizational performance. Mercer’s annual Latin America HR Forum discussed this topic — how to use data analytics strategically to make more efficient talent decisions. Mercer/View talked with Sergio Torres, senior partner and market leader for North Latin America, and Alberto Mondelli, senior partner and market leader for South Latin America, about the highlights of this year’s forum, held in May in Miami, Florida.
Q: WHAT WERE THIS YEAR’S ATTENDEES MOST INTERESTED IN LEARNING ABOUT? WHAT WERE THEIR MAJOR CONCERNS?
ALBERTO MONDELLI (A.M.): Our attendees’ overarching concerns were about efficiency and different ways to drive company results through performance management, analytics, and organization design. Attendees wanted to learn how to make their entire organization leaner and more agile, how to do more with less, and, especially, how to make the HR function more efficient and a better partner to the business. This topic is of such interest to organizations today that our attendee mix included more senior and C-suite executives than at past forums.
Q: HOW HAVE THESE CONCERNS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS THAT MERCER HAS SPONSORED THE FORUM?
A.M.: Three years ago, companies were focusing on how to drive growth. The economy was soaring across Latin America, and the region was attracting investments — as a result, companies were recruiting intensely. Concerns circled around how to attract, retain, and develop talent in general and, in particular, how to develop leaders on a fast track. Now, with some of our countries’ economies grinding to a halt, like in Brazil and Mexico, companies are realizing they won’t grow as fast as expected. They must perform better with their existing resources and drive performance to be more efficient.
SERGIO TORRES (S.T.): Since most of our economy is driven by commodities, the worldwide deceleration has affected us. In addition, foreign investments are down in some places, like Brazil. Colombia and Peru have kept pace but are not increasing as in the past. European and US expectations for Latin America were high, but our economies have not taken off, so we need to regroup and rethink our strategy for the future.
A.M.: I agree. Although organizations are not stalled, they are now concentrating on making themselves ready for an anticipated resumption of market growth in a few years.
Q: WHAT WERE THE BIG TAKEAWAYS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES FROM THIS YEAR’S FORUM?
A.M.: What you don’t measure, you can’t manage. For too long, HR has been trying to manage its contribution by not using metrics or by using the wrong metrics. We have to use the right metrics that are tied to business results. For example, companies usually measure success in selection processes by the time it takes to fill a vacant position. While that does have a business impact, it is not forward-looking. You should be measuring which candidate sources are giving you a better return on your investment. You should be looking at selection processes and your organization’s ability to hire good people and high potentials. Forward-looking metrics and business related metrics are key.
S.T.: In terms of learning outcomes, the insights of our keynote speakers at this forum — Dave Ulrich, known worldwide and ranked the #1 Management Educator and Guru by businessweek, and Dan Ariely, a New York Times best-selling author and an expert at managing data — were critical and memorable, especially since they challenged the status quo. Our attendees appreciated the chance to hear people of such caliber.
The breakout session that generated the most interest and had the most attendance, with attendees signing up even at the last minute, was on effective organizational design. This one spoke to the importance of metrics in driving performance within an organization and not only was the focus of the forum but also was the topic on everyone’s minds.
In addition, networking with colleagues and learning about the challenges other companies, countries, and colleagues face were important to attendees because these activities provided opportunities to trade best practices.
Q: AS MERCER’S BUSINESS LEADERS FOR LATIN AMERICA, WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FACING EMPLOYERS IN THE REGION IN TERMS OF TALENT, COMPENSATION, AND BENEFITS?
A.M.: One big challenge is that we do not have enough talent with the qualifications required by most companies. Unfortunately, our educational systems in most countries do not provide employment candidates with the skills that companies need.
Another challenge is leadership. A growing number of companies that originated in Latin America are expanding beyond their boundaries — they are what we call “multilatinas.” Their DNA is, in essence, Latin American. The struggle is in finding leaders who can grow an organization outside of the country of origin and of Latin America to become a worldwide organization.
On the other hand, we have a huge population that is improving its purchasing power and quality of life. Thus, more goods and services are needed, which creates opportunities for companies. In addition, Latin America still is an attractive region compared with other developing countries. We are in close proximity with the US, and we have political stability generally. We do not have religious contention. And, in most cases, our countries are democracies. This positions Latin America as a great prospect for many companies.
S.T.: I see one challenge as the need to develop highperformng people quickly when they are young, in their 20s to mid-30s. We need to convince corporations of the need to develop people’s skills fast and bridge our compensation gaps. Now, the only way employees grow and make more money is by moving from job to job, which drives turnover and makes it difficult to retain people.
Learn more about Mercer Signature Events and plan to attend next year’s Latin America HR Forum.
|Alberto Mondelli (São Paulo)
South Latin America Market Leader
+55 11 3048 1867
|Sergio Torres (Mexico City)
North Latin America Market Leader
+52 55 5999 1906