Talent shortages adding to recession fears

Jan 24 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Tumbling stock markets and the fear of a deep global recession may be the haunting the minds of top executives, but how to fill vacant posts and keep valued staff are just as pressing concerns.

Yesterday PriceWaterhouse Coopers's Global CEO Survey revealed the first fall in chief executive confidence for the year ahead since 2003, with fears about a slump in the U.S. firmly at the front of chief executives' minds.

Now a study by management consultancy Accenture has found more than two thirds of executives are also deeply worried about the threat of not being able to recruit and retain the best talent.

The survey of more than 850 top executives from the U.S, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and China found worries about talent management were growing, with 67 per cent this year putting it second only behind competition as the key threat, up from six out of 10 last year.

Nearly half of British executives were worried about the effect of low employee morale, with nearly a third pointing to another talent management issue, instability at the top, as a major concern.

Four out of 10 of the UK sample were also concerned or "very concerned" at their ability to maintain a corporate culture, with 46 per cent worried about managing remote staff efficiently.

Globally, nearly two thirds of those polled put competition at the top of their list of five key threats.

The health of the global economy and an inability to attract and retain the best talent came joint second, followed by company reputation (62 per cent) and the inability to develop new products and services (just over half).

"In today's multi-polar world Ė where economic power is distributed among multiple centers of economic and business activity Ė the war for talent has gone global," said Mark Foster, Accenture's group chief executive Ė management consulting & integrated markets.

"Additionally, new technologies are transforming the nature of work, the skills demanded, the manner in which work is sourced globally and the ways in which people collaborate.

"Leading organizations must build capabilities to understand and source talent more strategically, based on clear definitions of skills gaps and needs for the future," he added.

Globalization was a growing issue for the executives surveyed. More than half said they were concerned or very concerned about the impact of the global economy on business.

A fifth said their organisations were not adequately equipped to succeed as global enterprises.

"Rapid global business expansion presents significant management challenges and opportunities," said Foster.

"As companies expand and enter these new markets, their success will depend on streamlining their global operations and differentiating their products and services.

"At the same time, senior management must maintain and strengthen their companies' core values and corporate identity, as well as secure a diverse and highly collaborative leadership team with knowledge that spans disparate markets," he added.