Talent Management: A Problem Too Big For HR?

Alexandra Guadagno
Posted: 12/18/2011

This article, exclusive to Human Resources iQ, draws on research highlighted in the whitepaper "Talent Wars: The Struggle for Tomorrow’s Workforce." You can download the free whitepaper, courtesy Human Resources iQ and SAP, here.

Of the 944 executives who participated in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Competing on Talent survey, nearly 67 percent of executives expect employee recruitment and retention to become tougher over the next three years, and over 20 percent see this as becoming "significantly harder." In light of this research, it is clear why talent management and recruiting is being spotlighted as a top priority in the corporate strategy of companies in both developed and emerging markets. Below are some key findings of this study—and what this means for your company as the war for talent wages on, both near and abroad.

Priority number one: finding and training talent with a range of management skills. Even more important than the need for better technical skills is the demand for employees with "softer" management skills. 68 percent of those surveyed believe that the ability to manage change will be critical to their organization’s success over the next several years. Other skills highlighted by respondents are: the capacity to think strategically; ability to communicate effectively; analytical and problem-solving capabilities. However, 47 percent of respondents think that change-management skills will be "extremely difficult" to come by over the next several years.

The search for talent is going global
. Over fifty percent of the companies surveyed plan to look beyond their local region in order to fill their talent pipeline. United States and Japanese firms will increasingly look to east and south Asia for new talent, while UK, German and French firms will look strongly to eastern Europe for new talent. But sourcing talent in emerging markets will also get tougher, according to the study.

Aging populations are part of the problem—and in the eyes of 47 percent of respondents, the key challenge to meeting talent demands in the 21st century. As baby boomers are beginning to retire, and birth rates are slowing in developed countries, retirees are also taking their valuable experience with them when they leave the workforce. Countries such as Germany are hiring "silver workers," or previously retired employees, to fill the talent gap.

In some places where the workforce continues to grow, as in the US, there remains an institutional gap between the skills companies need and those being provided by the educational system. To offset this, 48 percent of firms in the survey plan to invest in supporting schools and universities to help improve their curricula. That’s an investment that will pay dividends where on-the-job training of new recruits is concerned.

Talent management is too key to be just HR’s responsibility
. Companies are recognizing that it really is all about the people-- they are beginning to truly treat talent management as a core part of their competitive strategy and not just an incidental that can be managed by HR alone. A majority of the survey respondents believed that the most effective talent-management strategies are devised and implemented by business units themselves, while being supported by the HR function.

Clearly, it is more important than ever for HR to understand the organizational goals and align their mission with the corporate agenda. As talent management continues to be a growing priority, the business will rely more heavily on HR to execute this talent strategy that may make—or break—the organization’s success in the coming years.

Alexandra Guadagno
Posted: 12/18/2011

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