Talent acquisition, compensation and benefits top HR priorities: Survey

N.A. among regions with highest income levels for HR leaders

Ninety per cent of employers in North America are planning to recruit in 2013, compared to 76 per cent of organizations in Europe, according to a survey of more than 4,300 HR leaders worldwide (including 135 in Canada).

A solid recruitment and talent acquisition strategy is a top priority for 2013 for HR leaders in North America, while compensation and benefits ranked second, found the Michael Page Global HR Barometer 2013 survey from recruitment specialist firm Michael Page.

However, one-half of businesses said the search for good candidates remains "difficult" or "very difficult" and in North American employers are adopting multiple channels to source the best talent: 96 per cent use online job-posting sites, 88 per cent use their own company websites and 75 per cent use recruitment consultancies.

"Despite the economic recovery being slower than most would have like in the region, a large majority of North American businesses are still planning to recruit, signalling an increase in optimism,” said Richard Vickers, regional managing director at Michael Page North America. “It means that acquiring the best talent in all areas is more important than ever. In particular, companies need to attract quality HR leaders so they can, in turn, help them bring in better managers in other departments."

Employee retention is also a major issue for HR leaders. Eight out of 10 businesses globally now offer work-life balance options, although outside Australia home office and parental leave initiatives are still rare. Many offer health and wellness programs, although these are found least often in European companies, found the survey.

"Finding good people is one thing; keeping them is another. Work-life balance has become an integral part of the retention agenda for most businesses worldwide, although evidence suggests flexible working conditions such as working from home and parental leave are not as widespread as they could be,” said Vickers.

The most popular tool for retention is training and development, used by more than one-half of organizations. However, most training involves hard skills and only a small proportion touches on leadership and management development, found the survey.

HR compensation, responsibilities

Compensation varies considerably by region. In Europe and Asia, more than one-third of HR leaders take home less than $77,000 per year. The highest income levels in Europe are in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. However, the weaker European compensation level is mostly influenced by Portugal, Russia, Poland, Turkey and France, partly due to a younger age structure in these countries, said Michael Page.

However, 26 per cent of those in Australia and 23 per cent in Latin America receive more than $189,000 per year, compared to nine per cent of European HR leaders.

The highest income levels in the world are attained in Australia/New Zealand (averaging $164,000), Latin America (averaging $149,000) and North America (averaging $145,000), found the survey. Financial services, energy and consumer goods are the sectors with the highest-paid HR leaders.

Five main functions fall within HR leaders’ responsibilities (in order):

•talent acquisition and recruitment

•corporate culture (including employee relations and change management)

•training and development

•defining HR standards and policies

•compensation and benefits

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