Determination and the ability to empathise are traits Mr Portalatin, 56, wields in his approach to the major issues that occupy Mercer - retirement, health, talent and investments. Mercer, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, has 20,000 employees in 42 countries. He says two issues - ageing and talent management - are pivotal to the success of companies. "(Ageing) impacts everything - how we deliver health and work solutions, how we think about retirement savings, and younger generations looking to have progressive career advancement.
"One of the obvious responses is to extend the retirement age. It makes sense - as we live longer, people need to work longer. But that causes other challenges for younger people looking to advance in the organisation. When you think about the implications across society... the domino implications have to be addressed in ways that people see that you're responding to how it affects them. That's empathy, taking the time to realise the profound changes taking place."
Companies, he says, have to seriously re-think the ways they engage employees, particularly the older workers. "We have to accept and promote the fact that the most productive participation of the employee workforce will be more and more at the ages of 45 to 50-plus. That hasn't been the way we address employee performance, productivity and contributions in the past. That's a big change.
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Source: Connecting with people, Raffles Conversation © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission