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Accenture survey shows war for talent heating up

Monday July 11, 2005

Accenture survey shows war for talent heating up

BY DANNY YAP

COMPANIES are generally not well positioned to compete because of failure to build critical workforce skills, said Accenture (human performance service line) managing partner Peter Cheese said. 

“Our research indicates that the war to get talent is expected to intensify in the years ahead,” he told StarBiz in Kuala Lumpur. 

In a new research report by Accenture, over 41% of respondents in the research said the war for talent would have an impact on their companies in the next 12 months, compared with less than 23% who said the war for talent was currently affecting their organisations. 

“Most respondents said their organisations did not have adequate skills and capabilities they viewed as critical to addressing marketplace challenges,” he said. 

The research, the fourth annual High Performance Workforce Study, was based on interviews with 244 senior executives in the United States, Britain, France, Spain, Germany, and Australia, representing 17 industry segments, including financial services, resources, services, manufacturing and government between December 2003 and April 2004. 

The survey's goal was to identify trends and factors that were affecting the performance of workforces and businesses. 

Cheese said about 17% of respondents described the overall skills level of their workforce as industry leading, while only 8% said they were performing very well in organisational capabilities. 

Peter Cheese
About 65% of respondents said effective leadership skills were a vital element to organisational capabilities, while 49% said creating an organisation and culture that could adapt effectively to change was important. 

Interestingly, he said, the survey findings indicated that executives were shifting their focus from cost control to growth. 

“About 32% of respondents said their current primary focus was on cost control, compared with 27% whose primary focus was on growth. However, over 42% of respondents said their companies would focus primarily on growth in the coming year, while less than 18% said they planned to focus primarily on cost control during that time,'' Cheese said. 

He said that as companies ramped up investment in growth-oriented activities to achieve higher levels of performance, they needed to regain their competitive edge in terms of recruiting, retaining and developing high-calibre employees. 

“The way forward involves a more strategic approach to human resource (HR) management. Organisations should understand how to effectively engage employees, focusing on learning and performance management and aligning both to business strategy,” he noted. 

The research also found shortcomings in the respondent organisations' HR and training practices, which were the main causes for the lack of solid workforce performance. 

Cheese said the research revealed that no more than 12% of respondents said they were very satisfied with their progress on any of the three most important HR initiatives – improving worker productivity, improving adaptability of business to new opportunities and facilitating organisational change – and just 18% said they were very satisfied with the overall performance of their HR function. 

Similarly, he said, when asked to identify their most important training initiatives, respondents cited aligning learning strategy with business goals (77%), ensuring learning content meets workforce requirements (75%) and boosting workforce productivity and agility (72%) as the priorities. 

The survey also found the “mean satisfaction rating” with HR and training functions was higher among respondents who outsource all of a particular training or HR activities, such as recruiting, payroll, training content development or training delivery, than among those that outsource none of these activities.  

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