U.S. firms investing more in talent but questioning the payoff: Mercer

Just 24 per cent believe they’re ‘highly effective’ in meeting human capital needs

Talent is the key to success in today’s global economy, but as organizations increase their investment in human capital many of them question whether it is paying off, found a survey by Mercer.

Six in 10 (60 per cent) organizations worldwide reported increasing their investment in talent in recent years. However, a much smaller percentage of respondents, 24 per cent said their plans are highly effective in meeting immediate and long-term human capital needs, found the Talent Barometer survey, which polled 1,260 organizations around the world.

Additionally, 77 per cent of those surveyed have a strategic workforce plan in place. But when asked whether it is part of their longer-term strategy, only 12 per cent said they had plans that extended for five years or more.

“Effective workforce planning is an essential part of positioning talent as a strategic asset and maintaining a competitive business advantage,” said Julio 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.”

More than one-half (57 per cent) of the organizations surveyed are not confident that educational institutions will generate the talent needed by their businesses today. The sentiment among respondents does not improve even when they are looking out as far as five years from today.

“This lack of qualified talent is a real concern for employers and one that requires a multi-stakeholder approach to solving. We have found companies that are most optimistic about the future are actively involved in shaping it,” said Pat Milligan, region president at Mercer.

As a result of this educational gap, the survey shows organizations are employing internships, apprenticeships, and teaching high-demand skills in secondary and tertiary institutions.

As for health and wellness, less than one-half of organizations worldwide actively apply the basic elements of a health management program, such as ensuring a healthy workplace (48 per cent) and establishing health-related policies and procedures (44 per cent).

Less than one-third (31 per cent) actively use a formal, written multi-year strategic plan for health and wellness.

Encouraging diverse career experiences and opportunities for growth which allow talent to excel is an essential part of workforce planning. According to the survey, organizations globally take the issue of career experience seriously, with the majority (80 per cent) conducting regular (annual or semi-annual) talent reviews. However, 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, said Mercer.

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