Talent Strategy: What’s Keeping CEOs Up at Night in 2016?

Talent Strategy: What’s Keeping CEOs Up at Night in 2016?

Mike Roberts

Every year we like to check in on PwC’s global CEO survey. The 2016 report, “Redefining Business Success in a Changing World,” asked nearly 1,500 CEOs from 83 different countries for their thoughts on the health of the economy, threats to their business, and among many other topics, talent acquisition and management.

Taking a look through the report, two data points really stood out. First, CEOs continue to be concerned with the availability of key skills. And second, many have shifted focus in the realm of talent strategy toward improving the health of their leadership pipeline.

In this article, we’ll inspect each of these data points more closely, and discuss what it means for talent strategy in 2016 and into the future.

CEOs are growing more concerned with the availability of key skills

When asked for thoughts on risks threatening the growth of their business, almost 3 in 4 CEOs marked off “availability of key skills.” A bit concerning is that in PwC’s 2014 version of this study, only 63% of CEOs chose this option as a threat.

What’s different from previous reports, though, is that CEOs seem to be concerned with a much wider range of risks this year.

ceos and recruiting 2016
Source: PwC, 2016 Annual Global CEO Survey, “Redefining Business Success in a Changing World

It’s hard to tell if the availability of key skills will ever not be a threat to the growth of businesses. The combination of the global economy rebounding and the continued shortage of skilled labor has largely shifted power into the hands of job seekers. This is good news for job seekers, but puts more pressure on professionals responsible for recruiting and retention.

Like any business function, what’s required for effective recruiting and retention has evolved considerably in the past decade. The internet has enabled a new era of sophisticated and discerning candidates, while top companies are rolling out the red carpet to attract and keep the most sought-after talent.

In 2016, we’ve seen a major increase in focus on candidate experience, recruitment marketing, and employer branding, in order to get back up to speed with what’s demanded from modern candidates. There also seems to be more pressure on companies to ensure employee satisfaction and happiness, as a means to retain and promote existing employees.

In many ways, offsetting the risks of “availability of key skills” has become markedly more complex in a short period of time. CEOs truly concerned about this should be investing resources in a wide range of programs described above.

CEOs are changing their talent strategy to focus on the leadership pipeline

When asked which aspects of their talent strategy they’d be focusing on to remain “relevant and competitive,” just under half of all CEOs said “Our focus on our pipeline of future leaders.” Not far behind that was workplace culture and behaviors, and then effective performance management.

2016 talent acquisition and ceosSource: PwC, 2016 Annual Global CEO Survey, “Redefining Business Success in a Changing World

The top choice is an interesting one from both a recruiting and retention perspective, especially considering recent data regarding Millennials’ ambitions and goals.

A study from Workplace Trends, “The Global Workforce Leadership Survey,” showed 31% of younger Millennial employees aspire to be C-Level or executive employees, versus only 38% of Generation Xers who have that same aspiration. Along the same lines, many other studies have shown Millennials’ top priorities in the workplace to be opportunities for growth.

With that said, focusing on improving their leadership pipeline likely means investing in internal leadership development programs, which aligns well with attracting and retaining the next generation of Millennial leaders. This can be a challenge for smaller companies. It can also be a strength for larger companies with more resources.

CEOs and the long-term view of talent strategy

The rate of change in business seems to only be accelerating. New technology, the SaaS-ification of everything, and the extreme openness that comes with the internet is resulting in very fluid talent strategies. Executives are trying to allocate resources in the right (often new) places, while maintaining the foundation of what’s worked in the past.

This is perhaps the most interesting time ever for talent strategy, as well as professionals responsible for recruiting, retention, and employee engagement. Not only are the stakes higher than ever before, in our news-travels-instantly society the world is always watching.

With the relative nascency of many programs for employer branding, candidate experience, employee engagement, internal education, and so on, the opportunity to make a massive impact is there. Executives will be held responsible for coming up with solutions to capture those opportunities—in the face of playing it safe and sticking with the status quo. 2017 will be an interesting year for talent strategy.

Like the topic of employer branding? Us too! Check out our new 2016 Employer Branding Handbook. It shares 7 employer branding strategies you should be employing right now.

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