Firms must maximise talent management in challenging economic climate


Firms must maximise talent management in challenging economic climate

Companies must focus on talent management to gain competitive advantage in tough markets, according to a new survey by Hewitt Associates.


The research shows that companies are risking business performance by failing to manage their talent effectively. While three-quarters of companies have in place a talent management strategy aligned to the business, only a third are proactively implementing this. This has a direct impact on the business; half of the companies surveyed admitted to missing crucial opportunities as a result.

HR needs to work much harder on implementation

The results of the second Hewitt talent survey raise some fundamental questions about how organisations are managing talent. While there is increased commitment among senior business leaders to talent management, and the majority of organisations have developed strategies over the past decade, many HR functions have yet to demonstrate that this is being effectively implemented.

Nick Warren, head of talent consulting at Hewitt Associates in the UK, said: “Amid a challenging economic environment we have seen a renewed interest in talent management, as companies seek to secure competitive advantage. However, this research shows that companies and their HR departments need to work much harder on implementation.

He added: “Talent strategies are simply not filtering down to line managers. According to the survey, many currently do not have the capability, time or will to manage talent correctly. As a result, too many businesses are failing to attract the right people or develop the talent they have.”

Key survey results

  • Talent management has long been recognised by HR departments as having a direct impact on business performance. The Hewitt survey shows an increase in commitment to talent management but a failure to deliver on these promises.

  • 73% of respondents believe they have an appropriate talent strategy in place, and 88% of companies claim that talent has become a top strategic priority for senior leaders (compared with 53% in 2006).

  • However, more than 55% of respondents have not observed the talent strategy reflected in the decisions made by front-line leaders.

  • Furthermore, only 38% of respondents believe that their organisation’s talent management strategy is fully embedded in the way in which they do business.

  • 84% of those surveyed believe that a lack of time is preventing managers from managing talent.

  • 62% report that supporting technology is ineffective.

  • 60% assert that line managers do not have adequate skills or capabilities to manage talent.

A final word

“It’s clear from our findings that there is a substantial difference between the aspirations of executive management to nurture and inspire talent, and the reality of how that talent is managed on a daily basis. The ability to resolve this could be a key differentiator in managing next generation talent and will translate into real value to the business.” - Nick Warren, head of talent consulting at Hewitt Associates in the UK.

Want to know more?

Title: Building the Talented Organisation, Hewitt Associates.

Survey sample: The survey gathered responses from 240 companies based in the UK.

Availability: Contact Hewitt in London, email: or tel: 020 7939 4000.

For more than 65 years, Hewitt Associates has provided clients with “best-in-class human resources consulting and outsourcing services”. Hewitt consults with more than 3,000 large and mid-size companies around the globe to develop and implement HR business strategies covering retirement, financial and health management; compensation and total rewards; and performance, talent and change management. Located in 33 countries, Hewitt employs approximately 23,000 associates. For more information, visit