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Global Trends

September 14 2010 - The majority of organizations are experiencing difficulty attracting employees with critical skills as economic conditions improve according to research by global professional services company Towers Watson and WorldatWork, an international association of human resource professionals. However, there is considerable regional variation in both the extent of recruitment problems and the pace of recovery.

The Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey drew on data from 1176 companies worldwide, including 314 from the United States. A majority of respondents reported that cost-cutting measures taken during the recession had had an adverse impact on employees’ workloads, their ability to manage work-related stress and overall engagement with their jobs. In response, companies are re-evaluating their reward and talent management programs, and strategies for attracting, retaining and motivating employees.

The survey found that 65 per cent of companies globally, and 52 per cent of U.S. companies, had experienced problems attracting critical-skill employees. Similarly, 61 per cent of companies globally, and 45 per cent of U.S. companies, reported difficulty attracting top-performing, talented employees. In most regions, attracting suitable employees appeared more difficult then retaining them. Some 21 per cent of companies globally had found it difficult to keep employees compared to 11 per cent of U.S. respondents.

Laura Sejen, global head of rewards consulting at Towers Watson, said:

"The business climate has clearly affected both the supply and demand of talent, and companies’ ability to attract and hire talented employees. Even in relatively soft economies, top employees are in short supply. Add to that, workers today simply are in no rush to seek employment elsewhere, given the uncertainty over economic recovery. As a result, many companies find themselves in a position of having to find new and innovative ways to entice and ultimately develop talent and leadership for the future."

Researchers found that the economic crisis forced many companies to cut costs. Measures included hiring and salary freezes, layoffs and reduction in bonuses. There were significant regional differences in the nature and extent of cost-cutting. U.S. companies were the most radical, with more than 60 per cent implementing four or more measures. Respondents acknowledged the adverse effects on employees, particularly identifying increased workloads (61 per cent), reduced ability to manage work-related stress (53 per cent), diminished engagement with the job (50 per cent), and poorer management of work-life balance (50 per cent).

Ryan Johnson, CCP, vice president of publishing and community for WorldatWork, commented:

"This study is a good reminder that employers need to reassess their employee value proposition to key in on those factors, both tangible and intangible, that would make them attractive to recruits. This is even more critical when luring top talent for leadership roles."

The survey found that top talent management priorities for the next three years were 'ensuring the readiness of talent in critical roles' (62 per cent), 'increasing the investment in building an internal pipeline of talent' (60 per cent), and 'creating more movement, rotation and development opportunities for talent' (51 per cent).

Laurie Bienstock, North America rewards practice leader at Towers Watson concluded:

"Leadership development is getting a lot of attention in the United States, and rightfully so. For companies that reduced the number of management layers, advancement opportunities have become fewer, and the gaps and complexity between levels have increased, making it significantly more difficult for companies to ensure leaders are prepared to effectively take on new and larger roles."

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