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The War for Talent - What Gives?

Following the recent economic crisis, the war for talent seemed to have been totally forgotten. Yet the 2010 Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey, suggests it might be about to flare up again. 

A Business Wire report states that according to the survey, nearly 2/3 (65%) of companies globally reported problems attracting critical skill employees. 61% reported similar difficulty attracting top performing, talented employees. Such numbers suggest that the war for talent is far from over. Yet, the conclusion drawn is "the business climate has clearly affected both the supply and demand of talent, and companies' ability to attract and hire talented employees."

Perhaps you need to read the whole report, but the conclusion appears tenuous, doesn't it? After all what does the business climate have to do with the supply and demand of talent? Have people suddenly become less talented?

My confusion is exacerbated by the fact that the report also states that globally only 21% of companies are having difficulty keeping employees. Depending on how you interpret "only", that hardly suggests a bidding war for what talent there is, even if that is only because workers are reluctant to seek employment elsewhere due to uncertainty over economic recovery.

The picture is further confused by the report stating that 61% believe their cost-cutting actions increased employees' workloads, with 53% saying these had adversely impacted employees' ability to manage their work-related stress with a negative impact on employee engagement and the ability to achieve work-life balance.

I don't know about you, but to me it would seem that the whole problem is one of management's making. But regardless of the cause, no matter which way you look at, it we appear to be sitting on a time bomb. Certainly the statement that the study "is a good reminder that employers need to reassess their employee value proposition" is valid. And the conclusion that organisations are likely to increase their talent management emphasis over the next three years seems obvious and has to offer some relief.

On the wrong track But has talent management become the new panacea? Is it just the latest fashion for the HR profession and will it be anything more than a Band-Aid for all the ills of the past? After all talent is embedded in people and if you focus on talent, you face the danger of repeating the sins of the past and overlooking the human dimension. Remember my earlier question - have people suddenly become less talented? Certainly you need to focus on what people have to offer, but take care you don't get on the wrong track - you might just lose the war for talent altogether. 


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