Mercer’s Talent Trends 2017 report offers fresh insights into the lingering differences between how the C-suite and Human Resources view the talent landscape.
For instance, both groups agree the competition for talent will increase this year, the report states, “but executives see this even more acutely—43% of C-suite respondents expect the competition to be significant, compared to 34% of HR professionals.”
Although that’s not a massive disconnect, it’s a telling one. And it’s only the beginning.
Mind the Gaps
Mercer’s report is based on the firm’s global survey of more than 400 business executives 1,700 HR professionals and 5,400 employees from 37 countries and 20 industries. Evidence of the gaps between the C-suite’s perspective and that of HR crops up in a number of places throughout the report:
Redesigning Organizational Structures and Jobs—In the opinion of executives, this is one of the top three ways to improve overall business performance in the immediate future. However, “only 11% of HR professionals indicated that redesigning jobs, roles, and responsibilities is a priority this year.”
Talent Analytics—Companies are collecting more information than ever from candidates and employees, the report states. Even so, “senior executives are not getting the kind of talent metrics they need to make better business decisions. For example, executives say that understanding the key drivers of engagement would be the insight that is most value adding to their business, but only 35% of HR leaders are able to provide this information.”
Employee Value Preposition (EVP)—EVP refers to an organization’s offerings and qualities that attract new talent and keep employees from going elsewhere. When it comes to what makes their companies’ EVP unique and compelling:
- 50% of executives cite company culture, as opposed to 35% of HR professionals—a surprising reversal regarding the issue of culture.
- 40% of executives cite brand recognition, while just 6% of HR professionals agree.
- 14% of executives cite pay and rewards, in contrast to 38% of HR professionals.
- 10% of executives cite benefits, compared to 33% of HR professionals.
- 9% of executives cite diversity and inclusion; this figure rises to 25% for HR professionals. Frankly, both of these figures seem shockingly low given the changing demographics of the global workforce—not to mention the documented business benefits of diversity and inclusion.
The Implications for HR
While some of these differences aren’t earth-shattering, there are lessons to be gleaned from them—especially in light of HR’s desire to raise its profile as a strategic partner to the C-suite.
In some instances (redesigning jobs, for example), HR professionals might want to take a closer look at the issue and reconsider their stance. In others (such as compensation and benefits), HR might want to stick to its guns and provide new data to shift senior leaders’ opinions. At the very least, HR professionals can use Mercer’s data to pinpoint discrepancies between their own perceptions and those of business leaders. That’s bound to be helpful as HR sets its agendas for the months and years ahead.
Here’s how Mercer itself sums up the survey’s implications to HR:
“The C-suite certainly has People issues on their agenda this year. … This focus on the talent agenda provides HR leaders with an incredible opportunity to align with business priorities and maximize their impact. To secure a seat at the table, HR leaders must continue to represent the needs of employees, while also keeping a finger on the pulse of external trends. Amplifying their voice requires leveraging data in ever more sophisticated ways to tell a story that is both compelling and relevant. Without talent insights from HR, CEOs’ dreams and aspirations will struggle to leave the boardroom.”
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