Is talent redefining GBS, or is GBS transforming talent?

By

Christian Mertin

EY Global Advisory Solutions Leader – Global Business Services

Transformation leader in Global Business Services with deep knowledge in finance, shared services and other back-office functions. Strong capabilities in supporting technologies and digitalization.

Contributors
4 minute read 1 May 2019

Global Business Services (GBS) should enable new skills to climb the value chain.

The scope of GBS activities is undergoing a transformation: as GBS masters end-to-end processes and delivers even more value to the organization, the skills of people within GBS will also transform. To harness the full potential of GBS, leaders need to consider how to develop, recruit, retain and deploy their people.

GBS employees have historically not been recruited for their creativity – quite the opposite, when manual process-based work was the biggest part of their roles. Many long-term GBS employees may like to stick with taking orders. They are happy to skip from one process-based GBS role to the next, in exchange for incremental pay increases. Others are worried about automation and AI taking their jobs.

Reactivating the creative gene

But increasingly, GBS employees are being empowered to develop themselves. This is being driven by two main factors: firstly a push from ambitious employees who want to rotate throughout GBS and the main organization; and secondly GBS leaders encouraging their best people to help shape the future of services.

Self-motivated GBS employees are encouraged to break siloes, to cooperate and to share knowledge and best practices across functions, based on a deep organizational knowledge. And as long-term GBS employees start to see the opportunity to share creative thoughts, even more will volunteer themselves for more strategic work.

GBS leaders need to help reactivate their employees’ creative gene, support them to develop their own creative potential – and, critically, give them free rein on where best to explore their potential.

This culture of holistic self-improvement in the workplace is ultimately a win-win for everyone. And one thing is clear: GBS organizations need this to speed up, because the talent market is speeding up too.

GBS people profiles

Some GBS organizations have treated less skilled employees as the ”workbench” of the organization – seeing them as the least valuable part of the value chain. Offering only repetitive, transactional tasks give little incentive for people to stay at such GBS organizations – and they are now struggling to get turnover rates under control.

The type of talent that future GBS relies on, meanwhile, will be in very high demand. They will be one-person agencies – they will have a keen sense of their own personal brand, a good understanding of commercial and project management, and know how to communicate ideas. They will be hyper-generalists that can address customer demands, which will be changing in almost real-time in a highly volatile marketplace.

However, once GBS has embarked on this talent transformation journey, they will face the challenge of recruiting such creatively enabled people, and getting them to stay.

The solution to attracting this talent is to offer a great workplace, with great people doing high-value, interesting work. The GBS talent marketplace will be an environment focused on upskilling. The relationship between employer and employee will be more like that of coach and athlete – GBS organizations need to position themselves as a cognitive gym where the fittest players can hone their skills and capabilities even further.

To do this, high-potential people must be offered opportunities to rotate throughout GBS and, more importantly, the wider organization. They will be very keen to extend their skillset by working closer to the customer, closer to the action.

Bio-tensegrity in future GBS models

Increasingly, GBS organizations will need to acquire and encourage risk, not eliminate it, by stimulating agile experiments that fail fast, fail better and ultimately create innovation engines that can grow assets to serve to the wider organization.

This requires rebuilding the GBS organizations on the principle of “bio-tensegrity” – which means they actively thrive on the chaos and failure they create in their experimentation toward greater value.

With this newly empowered talent leading the change, GBS must convince CXOs that the future is about people, culture and assets – having proven cost and efficiency savings by totally exceeding expectations.

These are the ways forward in the digital age.

Summary

Intelligent automation (IA) is transforming Global Business Services (GBS) skills profiles. As process-based tasks become automated, GBS leaders need to plan for the new labor market landscape by actively upskilling their people and encouraging a creative culture.

About this article

By

Christian Mertin

EY Global Advisory Solutions Leader – Global Business Services

Transformation leader in Global Business Services with deep knowledge in finance, shared services and other back-office functions. Strong capabilities in supporting technologies and digitalization.

Contributors