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Why the Tab for Talent Doesn't Add Up

Why the Tab for Talent Doesn't Add Up Credit: Math on chalkboard image via Shutterstock

Recruiting and retaining talent to gain a competitive advantage is a top-of-mind issue for companies of all sizes. But for many businesses, the results to date have not been encouraging. Experts say that companies should look within for the answers.

That failure is not for lack of throwing money at the problem. Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of organizations report increasing their investment in talent in recent years, according to a survey of more than 1,200 organizations worldwide conducted by Mercer, a global consultancy.

Yet, only about a quarter (24 percent) of companies says their plans are highly effective in meeting immediate or long-term human capital needs.

And while 77 percent of the companies surveyed said they had a strategic workforce plan in place, only 12 percent said they had plans that extended five years or more.

What happens after the talent is brought on board may give a clue to the problem, Mercer says.

"Effective workforce planning is an essential part of positioning talent as a strategic asset and maintaining a competitive business advantage," said Julio A. Portalatin, president and CEO of Mercer. "With the information and data analytics available today, employers can measure and manage their talent like never before. The question is whether the increased attention and efforts deliver the intended results. Outperformance requires a blend of innovative solutions and a fact-based approach to managing talent."

Mercer's survey examined the key accelerators of talent effectiveness — education, experience, and health and wellness — and their impact on successful workplace practices.

For most companies, the big disconnect outside their doors was education. More than half (57 percent) of organizations surveyed say they lack confidence that educational institutions will generate the talent their businesses need today.

Closer to home, Mercer found that less than half of organizations worldwide actively apply the basic elements of a health management program, such as ensuring a healthy workplace and establishing health-related policies and procedures.

Mercer's research also confirms that workforce planning needs to encourage diverse career experiences and opportunities for growth, which allow talent to excel. Globally, organizations take the issue of career experience seriously, with the majority (80 percent) conducting regular (annual or semiannual) talent reviews. But far fewer actively employ other actions that enhance talent availability and quality, such as assessing supply and demand of critical talent, putting a strategic succession plan in place and developing programs for high-potential employees.

Email BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com or follow him @nedbsmith. Follow us @BNDarticlesFacebook or Google +.

Ned Smith
Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.