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Willis Towers Watson and World Economic Forum release white paper on how to value talent in the new world of work

August 21, 2020

Work Transformation

ASIA PACIFIC, August 21, 2020 — Willis Towers Watson and the World Economic Forum have published “Human Capital as an Asset: An Accounting Framework to Reset the Value of Talent in the New World of Work,” a new white paper that provides organisations with a model to reshape how they value and make decisions about their workforces in a post-COVID-19 world of work.

“COVID-19 has accelerated a shift to new ways of working, prompting companies to rethink how, where and by whom work gets done,” said Ravin Jesuthasan, Managing Director at Willis Towers Watson and co-author of the paper. “As companies look to reset their business models, they need an approach to valuing talent not as an expense but as an asset so that boards and management can be held accountable for their investment in people and for delivering better outcomes.”

The paper, which draws on principles developed by Willis Towers Watson and the World Economic Forum in an earlier publication, outlines a human accounting framework that can help organisations measure and quantify the contribution of their people in the same way it measures returns on financial and intellectual capital. A company’s intangible assets, including human capital, are now estimated to comprise on average 52% of its market value.

In addition to providing an update on how companies are incorporating human capital metrics into their financial and operational measures, the paper also considers how some of the dramatic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on labour markets could have been mitigated if companies had valued their human capital better.

The framework outlines seven guiding principles to shift how organisations value people. These include shifts from profit to purpose; corporate policy to social responsibility; stand-alone entities to ecosystems; and employees and jobs to people, work and skills. The paper includes examples of companies that have put these principles into action — from upskilling their workforce to sharing workers to avoid layoffs.

Human capital management needs to be on the Board’s agenda, the same way financial, technology, and operational issues are.”

Shai Ganu
Managing Director, Executive Compensation Global Practice Leader

“If you ask any Board Chair or CEO what their top priorities are, invariably most would cite People among top three issues. However, in most cases, the frameworks needed for optimal human capital management have been lagging. Human capital management needs to be on the Board’s agenda, the same way financial, technology, and operational issues are. Traditional HR metrics tend to be representations of what has happened in the past, such as employee turnover. To create a level of change requires a huge mindset shift on the part of shareholders and management, and companies need to consider new HR metrics that focus on forward-looking value creation for businesses,” added Shai Ganu, Managing Director, Executive Compensation Global Practice Leader and ASEAN and South Asia Talent & Rewards Business Leader, Willis Towers Watson.

“As companies enter a new normal following the COVID shock, they must place talent at the heart of their business,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “By fundamentally revaluing and investing in their workforces, organisations will be better able to do what is right for their business, their employees and societies.

The white paper is available to download for free here.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas – the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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