U.S employers split on talent crunch

2006

Are U.S. employers about to be hit by a long-anticipated shortage of talent, or are all the dire warnings just scaremongering?

According to a survey of 3,100 senior human resources executives by Novations Group, a consulting organisation based in Boston, employers are divided. While most companies have seen some signs of a talent shortage, four out of 10 have had no difficulty finding the staff they need.

At the same time, however, a third of organisations have already taken pre-emptive steps to update their selection and recruitment criteria in anticipation of recruitment problems on the horizon.

But as to whether the U.S. will experience a shortage of talent in the next decade, employers are split.

One in 10 are convinced that a shortage is imminent while a similar proportion appear equally sure that the problem has been blown out of all proportion.

Novations Group Vice President, Tim Vigue, said that the issue continues to capture the imagination of employers worldwide.

"But our survey shows there's also widespread uncertainty on what's going to happen and when. Some organisations are in a passive mode, while the smart ones are taking a hard look at their recruitment and selection procedures." Uncertainty about an approaching talent shortage may also be reflected in a Novations' finding about retiring baby boomers, Vigue added.

"Again, organisations are divided, with as many taking steps to mitigate the loss of talent as there are others that expect no great talent drain as boomers retire."

While four out of 10 employers said that they don't expect an unusually large loss of talent with baby boomer retirements, almost one in five (18 per cent) anticipate a serious loss of talent and institutional know-how, but admit that they currently have no plans in place to mitigate this loss.

Indeed, as research last year by Accenture found, U.S. organisations face a major exodus of institutional knowledge as their most experienced employees leave the workforce, with almost half of employers having no formal workforce planning processes or tools in place to capture their workplace knowledge.

Yet the Novations survey found some signs that employers are beginning to take this threat seriously. One in three said that they are taking steps to deal with this loss of talent, for example, by creating ways for baby boomers to gradually reduce their hours.