January 2011
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Improving Economy Boosts Talent Management Efforts

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Companies embrace talent management to support business growth efforts.

As the economy turns around, companies are looking to retain and attract top talent to drive innovation, and theyre renewing their focus on talent management programs to support these efforts, according to a new global study on rewards and benefits.

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The Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards survey, which included results from 1,176 global companies, including 314 from the United States, showed that most respondents reported that cuts made during the recession hurt their ability to not only engage employees, but

also to recruit top talent. As a result, companies are re-evaluating their talent management efforts, says Jackie Greaner, North America practice leader for talent management and organizational alignment at Towers Watson.

What we are finding is that companies are primarily focused on growth and the development of innovative products and services. Theyre shifting away from competing on image and reputation, says Greaner.

Companies are looking for top talent to drive that innovation, she says. According to the survey, talent management priorities include ensuring the readiness of talent for critical roles (62 percent); increasing the investment in building an internal pipeline of talent (60 percent); and creating more movement, rotation, and development opportunities for talent (51 percent).

Leadership development is also a priority, notes Greaner. The study showed that there is also an increased emphasis on developing leaders with critical competencies of results orientation, strategic visioning, and change leadership, she notes.

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The specific talent management priorities that companies plan to focus on include leadership development programs (77 percent); career pathing and planning (75 percent); coaching and mentoring (68 percent); performance management (66 percent); leadership assessment (65 percent); and employee learning and development (61 percent).

Greaner notes that although, in general, companies did not have a difficult time retaining employees during the downturn, the story was different when it came to attracting and retaining top talent or critical skill employees. According to the study, 15 percent had problems attracting all employees, but 60 percent had trouble attracting top talent. As for retention, 11 percent had problems retaining all employees, whereas 30 percent had problems retaining critical-skill employees. Thus, companies are also putting more of an emphasis on career development, succession planning, and leadership competencies, according to the survey.

As the economy continues to improve, it will be critical to differentiate between employees and to ensure rewards and development programs are effective, notes Greaner. There will also be the critical need to develop competencies so that leaders can manage in the new environment, she adds.

About the Author

Phaedra Brotherton is a trained career development facilitator and certified professional resume writer. She is former manager of ATD’s Career Development Community of Practice, and was previously senior writer/editor for ATD.

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