Employers acknowledge recession’s impact on ability to attract talent

The majority of European companies are facing difficulties in attracting and motivating the critical-skill talent needed to help them rebound and prosper in the wake of the economic crisis, according to the results of new research from global professional services company Towers Watson.

The negative impact that cost-cutting measures have had on existing employees is adversely impacting companies’ ability to recover, the report shows. As a result, companies are beginning to re-evaluate how they attract, motivate and engage employees.

The Towers Watson global talent management and rewards survey confirms that attracting critical-skill employees is an issue companies are facing worldwide, as they prepare for growth during the recovery. Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of companies globally reported problems attracting critical-skill employees, while in Europe over half (58 per cent) said they were facing these problems to a great or moderate extent. Six in 10 (61 per cent) of European organisations also reported similar difficulties attracting top-performing employees.

The research found that the economic crisis forced companies across the globe to undertake cost-cutting activities with hiring freezes (75 per cent), salary freezes (63 per cent) and layoffs/redundancies (57 per cent) the top three measures amongst European companies. Respondents to the survey also said that these cost-cutting measures have been hard on employees. Nearly two thirds of European organisations (61 per cent) said their employees’ workload had increased as a result. Some 47 per cent reported they had an adverse impact on employees’ ability to manage workplace stress and nearly half (44 per cent) also said the measures had led to a negative effect on employees’ ability to have a healthy work-life balance. Half (51 per cent) believed that there had been an adverse impact on overall employee engagement.

The survey shows that many companies are re-evaluating their reward and talent management programmes as a result of the impact of cost-cutting on engagement amongst their employees. More than half of the European companies surveyed (58 per cent) are addressing this by ensuring the readiness of talent for critical roles, a further 56 per cent are creating more movement, rotation and development opportunities for talent and 53 per cent are also increasing the investment in building the internal pipeline of talent.