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StepStone report urges HR Directors to grasp opportunities as companies look to hire as well as fire in new Cold War for Talent.
Organisations around the globe are still grappling with recruiting and retaining talented employees despite the number of available workers growing daily as job losses mount worldwide, according to a major global research report of business leaders views released today by StepStone.
The Cold War for Talent, researched and prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, paints a picture of a very different job market from a year ago, with organisations recruiting talent for key posts on one hand while making redundancies on the other. Pools of retrenched workers are being scoured for top talent and benefits are being reworked to keep talented employees motivated and performing during a tough time.
Several commentators have claimed that with the arrival of a global recession the war for talent is over however this new report has shown that the war for talent is not over, it has just changed, and now the Cold War for Talent has begun, StepStone CEO, Colin Tenwick, said.
Key statistics from the report which characterise the new employment environment include: 59 per cent of respondents agree or strongly agree that the slowdown presents an opportunity to streamline their business through redundancy
36 per cent of respondents said that in the next three years, redeploying talent will be an important strategy for their organisation in recruiting and retaining employees
42 per cent of respondents agree or strongly agree that they expect their organisation to actively target employees made redundant elsewhere in their sector
53 per cent of respondents agree or strongly agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain talented employees
47 per cent of respondents said their organisation will improve training and development in the next 12 months to retain employees
Gone are the days of organisations blindly hiring the best people they could find from a small pool to keep fuelling growth. We are seeing an extreme correction back to classic people management where companies are nurturing and rewarding the best talent, releasing the non-performers and quietly hiring in strong talent to replace them, Mr Tenwick said.
HRs time to shine
While 70 per cent of business leaders surveyed said that, given the economic climate, their companys talent management strategy was becoming more important, ownership of talent management differs significantly from one organisation to the next. Thirty-five percent of respondents believed talent management is HRs role, 24 per cent said the CEO was most responsible, 26 per cent thought it was individual business unit heads responsibility and 8 per cent thought it was line managers.
Business leaders agree that talent management is vital for their organisation but there is a mixed answer when asking where the responsibility lies among different organisations. It hints that there is uncertainty as to whose job it really is, however it does provide HR executives with a unique opportunity. HR should hold the responsibility of managing internal and external talent identifying which employees to retain and nurture, which employees to remove and spearhead targeted hires of top talent to fill strategic roles which will drive business success in the recession, Mr Tenwick said.
HR Directors need to show leadership at a time when there is confusion around talent management and they should be joined at the hip with CEOs. Under the guidance of HR, a company can extract huge value from its talent strategy, drive cost savings and optimise its workforce.
Having long fought criticism for not being strategic enough or not being aligned to the business, the current economic climate gives HR Directors the opportunity to step up and truly demonstrate their value.
The report found that many organisations face stiff challenges managing their workforce. Sixty-three percent of respondents did not agree their organisation had a clear definition of what talent management meant, while 38 per cent said their organisation forecasted talent requirements poorly, and 32 per cent said their organisation managed succession planning poorly.
Other major developments facing HR departments in the next three years include offering flexible working (58 per cent), redeploying talent (36 per cent), recruiting and retaining older workers (33 per cent) and strengthening links between pay and performance (49 per cent).


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