Supporting and retaining skilled employees looks set to be a key workforce management goal for human resources directors (HRDs) over the coming year, new research suggests.

ADP, a business outsourcing and HR solutions provider, commissioned Opinion Matters to conduct a survey on the top 'talent threats' for the next 12 months.

Talent management and retention featured at the top of the list, followed by succession planning and increasing employee engagement.

More than 200 HRDs were surveyed, nearly a third (31 per cent) of whom said managing and keeping hold of capable staff was the leading threat to their organisation.

Almost half (46 per cent) said a lack of fresh talent posed an immediate challenge to maintaining and expanding their pool of human resources.

More than one in three (35 per cent) respondents cited skills gaps caused by reduced recruitment levels as the next most pressing concern.

The study also asked HR executives to list the best ways of motivating employees outside pay, with praise and recognition topping the list after being identified by 59 per cent of participants.

Providing flexible working conditions was cited as an effective motivator by 46 per cent of directors, while a similar proportion (45 per cent) underlined the importance of a fair and open leadership structure.

The employee section of the survey found that workers agree with HR managers that praise and recognition is the best way of motivating staff, followed by flexible working provisions.

Hazell Privett, HR director at ADP UK, said: "As the economic climate improves, it is encouraging to see HRDs focused on the strategic people and performance issues that will allow their organisations to take advantage of the upswing.

"It is encouraging that HRDs seem to be in tune with employee opinion when it comes to drivers of engagement and high performance at work."

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