Location of organization’s talent footprint now key to high productivity and profit

London, 29 November 2017

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  • EY and LinkedIn report shows talent location is a key driver for company growth
  • Organizations with highest talent-to-market alignment see highest profits and productivity
  • Countries with highest talent-to-market alignment see greatest productivity

Organizations with the closest alignment between their geographical talent footprint and market opportunity tend to be most productive and profitable. According to Right people, wrong place?, a new EY report in collaboration with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network online, organizations can make major performance and productivity improvements by taking a more strategic approach to where they place their people.

The report analyzed 659 organizations of varied size and scale across 11 sectors and revealed that those that poorly match their workforce to the global sub-sector growth markets are potentially leaving hundreds of millions of dollars of opportunity on the table. Bringing together a combined analysis of current and projected industry market performance from EY with LinkedIn’s insights from more than 530 million members, the report validates and quantifies the value of maximizing the alignment between workforce location and market opportunity.

Dennis Layton, EY Global Deputy Leader, People Advisory Services (PAS), says:

“The ability to quantify the opportunity that individual organizations have in optimizing their talent footprint is a unique and important insight. It helps cement the notion that organizations that better connect their global workforce strategy to their global market opportunity, in terms of an end-to-end talent management and mobility approach, can drive huge benefits in terms of both productivity and profitability. This talent-to-market alignment helps organizations that are currently running behind the pack see a clear opportunity to capture growth by focussing their efforts on more strategic workforce and talent planning.”

According to the findings in the report, in the pharmaceutical sector, for example, a typical organization increasing their talent-to-market alignment by 10% could increase their yearly profit by US$77m based on a sample of 71 pharmaceutical sector firms. For these pharmaceutical sector organizations, moving from a median talent-to-market alignment to best-in-class has the potential to be worth over US$690m in increased annual profits.

In the automotive sector, organizations with the highest talent-to-market alignment typically achieved revenue growth 14 percentage points higher than firms with the lowest alignment, while in the apparel and footwear sector, growth among the highest aligned organizations was as much as 9 percentage points higher than the lowest aligned firms.

The findings in the report also found that organizations that increase their talent to market alignment over time tend to grow faster. For example, organizations in the top quartile for improving talent-to-market alignment between 2013 and 2016 achieved profit growth that was, on average, 7.8 percentage points higher than those in the lowest quartile. The insurance sector was particularly strong in this aspect with those organizations showing the highest improvement in talent-to-market alignment achieving profit growth that was, on average, 29 percentage points higher than those with the lowest improvement over this three-year time period. The banking sector was also strong across this time period with the most improved talent-to-market alignment organizations in the sector achieving profit growth that averaged 11 percentage points higher than those with at the lowest end of the spectrum.

National economies with headquartered organizations that had a higher talent-to-market alignment also showed trends toward being more productive, according to the report. North American headquartered firms achieved the closest match between the proportional allocation of talent to a country and that country’s significance in the global sub sector market, while organizations headquartered in Ireland, Japan, China and Canada were all above the global average benchmarked in the report. The findings show that there are significant implications for GDP growth: if the UK, for example, were to match the level of talent-to-market alignment found in the United States it could potentially be worth around US$900b to the UK economy.

When it came to seniority and business function alignment, many companies often misalign the location of their talent to legacy mature markets rather than to countries where greater revenue and faster growth opportunities lie. Notable trends were seen in how companies distribute their senior executives, sales, marketing and research talent around the globe with key functions often being underrepresented in crucial markets. Data for the pharmaceutical sector, for example, showed that the proportion of directors and above in the sector are disproportionately positioned in mature markets like the United States, Spain, France, Switzerland and the UK rather than in other countries where greater revenue and faster growth opportunities may exist.

Layton says: “In a low-growth environment, with wage stagflation across many developed markets and an increasing concentration of opportunity and social mobility occurring alongside a rise in protectionist sentiments, this research provides a clear economic imperative for more trade and mobility of the right people to the right places, rather than less. Those organizations that focus on growth-shoring to ensure that the right executive, marketing and sales, product development, research and other talent categories are better matched to global market opportunities will do a better job of capturing share in those markets.”

Company, industry, and country specific analyses are available upon request.

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Notes to Editors
About EY
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About EY People Advisory Services
As the world continues to be impacted by globalization, demographics, technology, innovation and regulation, organizations are under pressure to adapt quickly and build agile people cultures that respond to these disruptive forces. EY People Advisory Services (PAS) believes a better working world is helping our clients harness their people agenda — the right people, with the right capabilities, in the right place, for the right cost, doing the right things.

We work globally and collaborate to bring you professional teams to address complex issues relating to organization transformation, end-to-end employee life cycles, effective talent deployment and mobility, gaining value from evolving and virtual workforces, and the changing role of HR in support of business strategy. Our EY professionals ask better questions and work with clients to create holistic, innovative answers that deliver quality results.

For more information, visit ey.com/pas.

About the report
The research in Right people, wrong place? is based on combined analysis of 659 companies across 11 sectors. A five-step core methodology was followed using unique datasets on market size and company performance by industry sector developed by EY and also using aggregate profile data provided by LinkedIn on company workforce locations and distribution by self-reported seniority and function.