Company heads and C-suite executives cited attracting and retaining talent and a possible recession as their top internal and external concerns, respectively, in 2020, according to a Jan. 2 global survey from The Conference Board. However, the respondents said they plan to counteract their concerns by “developing more innovative cultures and new business models.”
The survey also found that regardless of the size and location of the organizations represented, the respondents widely agreed that talent attraction and retention would be their No. 1 internal stressor in the new year. They attributed the talent battle’s growing intensity to the tight labor market, which they described as their fifth biggest external worry in 2020.
In other internal concerns, respondents ranked preparing the next generation of leaders as their fourth top priority. Equal pay was the sixth top priority for female C-suite respondents, versus its fifteenth priority ranking by their male counterparts. Building a more inclusive work culture was also on the list.
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CEOs and C-suite executives have good reason to rank recruiting as their top concern; thanks to the tight labor market, the process has become longer and costlier over time. More than a third of respondents to a report from Kronos and The Human Capital Institute agreed that filling positions now takes longer, and 73% said they increased starting salaries for openings, while half raised starting hourly pay in the last two years.
In fact, the talent supply and demand gap is so wide that a number of employers are outsourcing the recruiting process to boost their hiring rates, as shown by an Everest Group report released in September. Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) expanded during the past four years and grew more than 20% in 2018, alone, the report found. Not only are RPOs providing consultation on training, reskilling and “best fit” outplacement practices, but they’re also investing in technologies, such as artificial intelligence, analytics and blockchain to help organizations cut costs and improve hiring outcomes, said the Everest Group.
Many of the C-suite’s concerns over a potential recession may be rooted in an unprepared workforce. Executives polled in a recent Vitalsmart survey said that their employees lack the necessary skills to overcome a recession. Ironically, employees in the same survey had a similar perception of their bosses. Recession-resistent skills include leadership, productivity, open dialogue, mastering change and accountability. HR leaders can use the results from surveys like these to help the workforce prepare for any potential recession.