Top countries for talented employees – including South Africa

Switzerland has retained its top spot on the latest World Talent Ranking report, published annually by the IMD World Competitiveness Center.

The report highlights a pandemic-induced trend in which employees are more motivated in more competitive economies and less so in non-competitive ones.

It grades 64 economies based on a range of factors including how they invest in and develop local personnel, their ability to attract and retain skilled workers, and the quality of domestic talent pools. Europe dominated the rankings again this year, with the global top 10 countries all in the region.

Switzerland has been ranked top for the past five years, while Sweden moved up to second, from fifth a year ago, while Luxembourg remains third, and is followed by Nordic countries: Norway and Denmark.

The Institute for Management Development’s World Competitiveness Center takes a three-pronged approach in measuring talent in economies.

  • The Investment & Development factor measures the resources earmarked to cultivate a homegrown workforce.
  • The Appeal factor evaluates the extent to which an economy attracts foreign and retains local talent.
  • And the Readiness factor measures the quality of the skills and competencies that are available in a country’s talent pool.

People’s motivation for work during the pandemic has proven crucial for economic success, IMD’s World Talent Ranking 2021 showed.

“Workers today are increasingly motivated by high quality of life, flexible working, and opportunities to train on the job, whereas previously, remuneration was the driving force behind their desire to stick at their jobs,” the report’s researchers said.

“One of the most affected economic areas from Covid-19 worldwide is the labour market. For some positions, the skills and competencies required can be performed at a distance, essentially substituting the work-office with a home-office. The separation of individuals from their workplace has brought not only a degree of deterioration to the organizational culture but has also increased the distance among staff,” said professor Arturo Bris, director of IMD World Competitiveness Center.

The current report suggests that organizational leadership in combination with the quality of life a particular country offers, largely drive high levels of worker motivation displayed by highly talent- competitive countries, said Bris.

“It also displays that policies adapted to address the pandemic contributed to the decline of any brain-drain impact on talent competitiveness. Finally, it shows that talent-competitive countries find a balance between the effectiveness of their local talent force and attracting international highly skilled staff.”

South Africa

South Africa places 63rd out of 64 countries and continues to fall down the rankings. It ranked 52nd on the list in 2020, down from 50th a year earlier.


Read: South Africa in the middle of a massive emigration wave as more skilled professionals resign

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Top countries for talented employees – including South Africa