Beyond skilling, here’s how you win the talent war

Beyond skilling, here’s how you win the talent war

Jeff Blake

Jeff is a highly experienced American expat senior executive, having worked for 18+ years in the BPO / offshoring sector. Jeff is responsible for all operations and support services performed in Manila.


There is a war for talent upon us – as employees revaluate options, borders remain closed, and companies scramble for talent in the country. 

Can providing adequate skilling opportunities be your armour in this war for talent? 

Jeff Blake, Satellite Office Country Manager with 20+ years experience in business process outsourcing, gave an insightful presentation in the 2021 Skillsoft Perspective Unleashed, focusing on the ongoing talent war and strategies how businesses can win over prospective employees. 


My 20+ years experience in the BPO industry made me realize that, as important as upskilling is, the entire employee life cycle also matters to make your business as an employer of choice. 

In Satellite Office, the holistic approach in cultivating talents begins in the recruitment process. Our key to success is closely working with clients in order to speed up the recruitment processes for candidates that they like. This way we can help our clients make hiring decisions confidently, leading to shorter time to hire. .  

After the crucial recruitment process, the next stage of the employee life cycle comes along. As part of our efforts to adapt to the new normal, we at Satellite Office have focused on four primary areas which helped increase retention across all our clients: 1) Flexibility, 2) Engagement, 3) Mental Health, and 4) L&D and Succession Planning. 

Here’s how we did it:

  1. Flexibility: We’ve offered the opportunity for most of our staff to be able to work from home or in a hybrid model as needed, not by government mandate, but more to ensure their safety and well-being. Working very closely with our clients, we’ve been able to get them set-up at home and provided seamless transitions. For those that work from the office, we have gone beyond the requirements of the government to ensure that our staff onsite have a safe environment to work in. 

  2. Engagement: The pandemic changed how we keep our people engaged. With most staff working from home, we have had to re-do a lot of our engagement activities to ensure that our staff are able to enjoy them from anywhere. We also had to come up with a variety of different events to consider the changing trends. From separate interest groups, financial seminars, health and wellness activities to client-specific activities, we’ve been able to keep our people together even when they are physically distant. Being able to host large events had been helpful in keeping our teams connected. We had our year-end holiday party and Town-Hall meetings, where we were able to bring in celebrity speakers to keep the excitement going. 

  3. Mental Health: This is a very important aspect of our employee retention initiative. Our Mental health advocacy in the past year has become a major player in retaining within the organization. Having the desire to allow our employees to have a trusted emotional outlet, we were able to set up an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to allow them to speak with mental health professionals in a confidential manner. On top of this, we continue to have mental health seminars to provide different avenues for our team for them to learn how to cope, be open and honest about their mental health and seek assistance if needed. 

  4. L&D and Succession Planning: Whereas the above topics have been very important to us, our growth in our Learning and Development (L&D) program throughout the year has been the key initiative for Satellite Office. Again, transitioning into a work-from-home environment has forced us to change the way that we do L&D. SumTotal and SkillSoft have been tremendous partners to us as we went on that journey and this has been the biggest key to our success. We have diverse clients across different industries—from Retail and Ecommerce, Tech and Digital, and Financial Services. This requires us to have significant L&D offerings, but at the same time, be able to provide specialized programs to ensure that the right people are getting the right content.  
    With the help of our partners, we have been able to develop specialized academies in each of our industries, which enables our employees to have a structured L&D path to follow. In close coordination with our clients, we have also been able to develop specialized learning paths for the employees to ensure they are getting the skills that they need to develop. Understanding where the employee wants to go next in their career is important. Creating succession and growth plans within the organization gives each member of the team a clear path as to where they are going and the ability to visualize how to get there. This close planning shows your employees that you are willing to invest in them. 

We’ve done these things in Satellite Office, and it has led to higher employee satisfaction, driving better retention rates. This also increased referrals from our staff to their friends telling them what a great place Satellite Office is to work. Looking closely at the talent shortage problem, there really is no one way to solve this. In my personal experience, throwing money at the problem is only going to be a temporary solution. The key is to really use that money to invest on your people and start the discussion with your employees, listen and understand their needs. In a time of so much uncertainty worldwide, a lot of people just want to know that you care and are looking out for them.