Companies struggle to cultivate talent

As the war for talent heats up, companies will have to put more work into finding, recruiting, and retaining talent.

Our research shows that currently, most are not doing what it takes to keep their employees at the company—and in fact, most do not seem to expect them to stay for long. Executives are not filling roles from within the company, and most do not consider loyalty an important part of their talent strategy or plan for continuity in key roles.

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Executives may be underestimating employees’ willingness to follow a set career path within the organization: our survey shows that many employees are concerned about a lack of opportunities for advancement within their companies and are looking for more learning and development opportunities from their employers.

The first step for companies looking to cultivate leadership may be to better understand what employees’ career goals are. Setting up mentoring programs—formal or informal—as well as regular meetings to discuss development opportunities may help define a career path and show executives which employees are most suited for advancement within the business. In the long run, those companies who cultivate loyal, skilled talent from within will have a better shot at success in the war for talent.

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The leadership cliff

Executives and employees agree that leadership in their organizations is lacking. Executives cite a lack of adequate leadership as the number two impediment to achieving goals of building a workforce to meet future business objectives (behind lack of employee longevity and loyalty but ahead of lack of adequate technology). And only 35% say talent available in leadership positions is sufficient to drive global growth—a big problem in a workforce that is increasingly diverse.

And while executives are worried about their leadership capabilities, they aren’t doing what it takes to cultivate leadership in their companies. Just 43% say that when a senior person leaves, they tend to fill the role from within the organization, and even fewer say they plan for succession and continuity in key roles.

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Even worse, just 19% of employees say that leadership is among the most important attributes bosses are looking for in their employees.

None of these findings point to a rosy picture for the future workforce. That’s unfortunate, because to thrive in the global economy companies will need to develop leadership in their companies by supporting employees, encouraging workers to learn new skills, and planning for succession.