Companies View Talent as Biggest Obstacle to Growth

December 19, 2010 – As companies worldwide begin to position themselves for future, a new survey by global professional services company Towers Watson finds that concerns over their ability to attract and retain key talent, or to plan for an orderly replacement of talent, could thwart those efforts. The survey also found significant gaps in employers' capabilities to address talent management and succession planning issues. The Towers Watson Strategies for Growth study, a survey of more than 700 companies, revealed that talent — finding it and keeping it — is the biggest potential workforce obstacle to achieving growth. Half of the respondents worldwide (51 percent) cited the loss of talent in key skill areas as a workforce challenge that could hinder growth. Slightly fewer (49 percent) cited the lack of succession planning as a top challenge, while 38 percent noted concerns about attracting necessary talent. Regionally, the survey revealed some divergence, which tended to track with the differing economic climate in various parts of the world. North American companies are less concerned about loss of key talent than their counterparts in other regions, but are more concerned about levels of disengagement among employees. In Asia Pacific, disengagement is not a major issue, but the inability to pay workers competitively is, reflecting the region's fairly young and mobile workers, who are willing to change jobs frequently to advance their careers and raise their paychecks. Respondents in Europe are more worried about the talent drain's impact on management succession planning. “Companies clearly see talent as an integral part of growing their businesses when the economic recovery firmly takes hold,” said Ravin Jesuthasan, global head of talent management consulting at Towers Watson.

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