Companies Must Redraw Battle Lines to Win the New War for Talent: KPMG

Coming from the heels of the financial crisis, today's war for talent is back with a vengeance. However, as KPMG People & Change consultants' new survey reveals, there are some key differences this time around.

“In 2001, the focus was on attracting and retaining ‘high potential’ and ‘high performing’ employees. It’s an approach that has become deeply engrained for many companies,” said Robert Bolton, co-leader of KPMG’s Global HR Center of Excellence.

“In 2014, however, 66 percent of respondents are telling us it’s much more important for organizations to have a holistic approach to talent management that addresses the needs of all employees.”

The survey indicates a dramatic shift in HR methodology, brought about by a confluence of factors, including a broad-based shortage of skilled workers and the effects of increased globalization.

Competitive pressures resulting from improving economies and the changing career expectations of younger skilled workers also contribute to the change.

“These findings should serve as a wake-up call to HR managers who may still be clinging to outdated approaches to talent management,” said Bolton. “Addressing skill shortages throughout the entire organization, not just at the most senior levels, should be a top priority in 2014 and will become critical over the next two years.”

Bolton also found little evidence that the practices outlined in The War for Talent are actually contributing to improved business performance.

“An analysis of the 106 original adopters of the ‘war for talent’ approach found that 13 years later, only 25 percent of those organizations can be categorized as performing well in their marketplaces,” said Bolton. “In addition, a third of those companies have ceased to exist altogether.”

According to Bolton, there are a number of actions companies can take to give themselves an edge in the ongoing war for talent.

“One thing many leading companies are doing is putting powerful new data analysis capabilities to work to help gauge their performance and fine-tune their people practices over time,” said Bolton.

Bolton notes there’s a real opportunity for companies to create a differentiated approach for the HR function, one that is a demonstrable driver for the business.

Those companies that seize this opportunity stand to benefit, while those who take a narrow approach risk losing far more than simply the war for talent.

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