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Talent Management Cited as Top Issue for HR in 2007

January 2, 2007
Talent management is the top strategic HR issue that companies expect to face in 2007, according to a recent survey by ORC Worldwide.

Specifically, respondents say they are concerned about acquiring, developing and retaining talent at all levels of the organization.

The survey is based on responses from 35 members of the Senior HR Officers Network, MidCap Senior HR Officers Network and Human Resources Solution Network. Participating companies have operations in more than one country and have workforces ranging up to 90,000 employees.

Previous studies by ORC had found that succession planning was a top concern for organizations.

“While succession planning remains a key activity, it is clearly no longer the sole activity of talent management,” the study says.

In fact, when asked about the highest-priority HR initiatives for 2007, 37.1 percent of survey respondents say talent management, while only 2 percent mention succession planning.

“While we believe that succession planning continues to be an important initiative in most organizations, the processes and programs may be in place and working well, allowing member companies to expand their focus into other areas of managing talent,” the study says.

Companies have started to take a broader approach to talent management because they have begun to recognize there is a shortage of talent, particularly in industries like engineering, says Jodi Starkman, director of talent management at ORC.

“We have moved from companies beginning to think about this to actually managing the whole human supply chain,” she says.

Talent management has already started to take up a lot of HR executives’ time, according to the survey. Twenty-nine percent of respondents say the majority of their time was spent on talent management activities.

The second-highest priority for 2007, according to respondents, is strategic HR management. These activities include HR outsourcing, aligning HR activities with the business and implementing common global HR processes.

Twenty-three percent of respondents say that recent business growth will affect the company’s HR strategy next year. Another 23 percent cite mergers and acquisitions and divestitures as a factor that will affect their HR strategies.

The biggest challenge for companies trying to create broad-based programs to attract, train and retain talent is workforce planning, Starkman says.

“Companies need to get a handle on defining their global talent demands over the next five years,” she says.

Jessica Marquez