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Talent is Top Priority for CEOs, Overtaking Managing Risk

April 20, 2011 — Managing talent has overtaken risk as top of the CEO agenda, according to analysis from PwC's 14th annual CEO survey.

Some 83% of the 1,200 CEOs surveyed from 69 countries plan to change their firm's talent management strategy over the next 12 months, and for 31% these changes will be major. The next priorities are risk management and investment, with 77% and 76% of CEOs respectively anticipating changes in these areas. Last year, risk management was the number one priority for 84% of CEOs, followed by investment (81%), and talent third (79%).

The picture varies from region to region. In Asia Pacific and the Middle East, 92% and 89% of CEOs respectively plan to make changes to their people strategy, whereas in North America the figure drops to 78%.

"As we move out of the downturn, CEOs are putting the focus firmly on their people," said Michael Rendell, global human resource services practice leader at PwC. "Competition for talent is intensifying as recruitment activity picks up in some sectors and there are increasing difficulties finding staff with the right skills. CEOs often speak of the importance of talent, but there's not enough evidence of action being taken. The survey findings are encouraging, suggesting talent will be reflected more in company strategy. HR professionals need to help CEOs see what can and should be done."

CEOs anticipate the main change to talent management will be using more non-financial rewards to motivate staff (65%), with CEOs in Latin America the most focused on this issue (80%).

"Staff are not motivated by pay alone. With labor markets more buoyant, firms need to make sure employees are engaged financially and emotionally," Rendell said. "Non-financial rewards can include increased responsibility and developmental opportunities, anything which can help people see how they can reach their full potential. This in turn can help improve workforce skills, another priority for CEOs."

The other significant changes to HR strategy planned by CEOs will be sending more employees on international assignments (59%) and increased work with government and education systems

Indeed CEOs believe the main challenge to talent over the next few years will be a limited supply of candidates with the right skills (66%), with CEOs in the Middle East (85%) and Africa (90%) the most concerned. Another major challenge according to the survey will be recruiting and integrating younger employees (54%), although CEOs in Asia Pacific don't see this as an issue (38%).

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