Engagement, Retention, and Culture now the #1 Issues in Talent and HR


We just published the major study Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015, and the results are striking.

Today, driven by shifts in both work ethos and the transparency of the job market, employee retention and engagement are now the #1 problems companies face.  (3,200 respondents from over 100 countries)


This is the third year we've done this study, and we looked at more than ten different trends in the research. The results show that 87% of companies now rate "retention, engagement, and culture" as an important imperative and 50% rate it "urgent." The #2 trend, the need to build a global leadership pipeline, was a close second.

As you will read about in the report, companies are struggling with their culture because of a variety of factors. First, millennials now make up the largest part of the workforce, and they demand flexibility, mobility, and accelerated development like never before. Second, every company's employment brand is now "on the internet," so if you have weak management or a poor working environment, people know about it (we call this "the naked organization"). Third, companies have not kept up with their leadership development and performance management practices – so often management itself is not driving the right behaviors to make people want to stay.

(For more on the whole topic of Culture, please read the article Culture: Why It's the Most Important Topic in Business Today.) 

One of the biggest factors may be learning. Our research shows that the #3 priority issue is the need to revamp and improve employee learning. This is not only a problem of skills development, but also one of engagement. The research shows that companies with high performing learning environments rank in the top for employee engagement – demonstrating how important learning is to engaging and empowering people.

Another major finding is that HR skills remain a challenge. 80% of companies believe HR skills are an issue and 39% rate this problem urgent. This means we, as HR professionals, owe it to our organizations and ourselves to take the time and money to develop ourselves. Rotational assignments, bringing non-HR people into the function, and training are all part of the solution.

Analytics was rated a high priority, as we may expect, but the progress is slow. And companies are very focused on fixing performance management, with almost 60% already in the process of re-engineering the process.  We've been studying performance management for almost ten years now, and our research clearly shows why and how it should be simpler, more agile, and more developmental in nature.

Speaking of simple, let me conclude with a few comments on that issue. Last year we talked about "the overwhelmed employee" and how important it was for companies to make life easier at work. This year we found that one of the biggest new trends it "The Simplification of Work" – something we can all relate to. More than 60% of companies believe their work environment is too complex and now is the time to strip away clutter and get more focused. As I discuss in "The De-Cluttering of HR" – simplicity does not mean being simplistic. It is a tough effort to shift your culture away from "edge cases" and helping people focus on the basics.  We in HR have much to learn in this respect!

I look forward to talking about all this with you at IMPACT this year. I'm going to be talking about Bold HR – and now is definitely the time to be bold. This report, which is filled with good information and insights, tells me (and hopefully you) that the bar is being raised for all of us. Now is the time for us to take charge, innovate, and lead our organizations to be more fulfilling, engaging, and focused.

I look forward to seeing many of you in April, and I hope you really enjoy reading this research!  

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Josh Bersin

Josh Bersin writes on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management. His favorite topics include strategic talent management, creating high-impact learning organizations, and how organizations drive business change and competitive advantage through talent strategy and technology.

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