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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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News: Organisations invest in talent – but is it paying off?


Organisations across the world are investing in key talent, but are starting to ask questions about when they’ll see a return on investment.

This is according to the Talent Barometer Survey from Mercer, which reveals 60 percent of organisations worldwide have increased their investment in talent in recent years.

Yet just 24 percent say their plans have been highly effective in meeting immediate and long-term capital needs.

A further 77 percent of respondents have a strategic workforce plan in place – 12 percent of these were questioned further and revealed their plans extended for five years or more.

The survey also questioned organisations around education, health, wellness and career experience, identified as accelerators of talent effectiveness.

Over half of organisations (57 percent) aren’t confident educational institutions will generate the talent required for today’s tough business environment.

Less than a third (31 percent) of firms surveyed use a formal, multi-year strategic plan for health and wellness, while 48 and 44 percent of firms respectively ensure a healthy workplace and establish health-related policies and procedures.

“Effective workforce planning is an essential part of positioning talent as a strategic asset and maintaining a competitive business advantage,” said Julio A. Portalatin, President and CEO of Mercer.

“With the information and data analytics available today, employers can measure and manage their talent like never before. The question is whether the increased attention and efforts deliver the intended results. Outperformance requires a blend of innovative solutions and a fact-based approach to managing talent.

The survey identified several ways in which organisations can promote the availability and quality of key talent, including assessing supply and demand of critical talent, putting a strategic succession plan in place and developing programs for high-potential employees.

Responsibility for talent management will inevitably fall to HR and the need to prove ROI is paramount as HR must increasingly make a business case for its actions. Long-term thinking is key as techniques for nurturing one tranche of talent may not work when a new wave of different-thinkers come into the workplace. Initiatives should be focused in several areas – including health and wellbeing and workplace training – to limit reliance on one or two areas.

Mercer’s Talent Barometer Survey questioned more than 1260 organisations across the globe, which varied in size from fewer than 1000 employees to more than 10,000.

2 Responses

  1. Business culture

    Definitely agree – culture can be a great thing when companies look to hire top talent but it can also be a burden. I think a lot of companies are designing their recruitment materials around being a certain ‘type’ of company and then experiencing problems when the new hire joins and the culture isn’t consistent with what they’ve been told. Obviously this has effects on engagement and productivity. 

    Another challenge is even measuring the culture of a business – one system is ranking it on a sliding scale for a range of values, such as openness, support, transparency, management humility, but this has loads of problems. Who does the ranking, for example? Managers often aren’t privy to what the workforce ‘really’ thinks.

  2. Investment in key talent and ROI

    Interesting article but I don’t see it mentioning the need to align the recruitment and development of key talent with the culture and working environment of the hiring company.  Its all very well going out across the globe to find the most brilliant talent for your company but if you don’t have or create an environment in which people feel part of the company in more than just being a number on the payroll, then you are wasting your time. 

    The secret of successful organisations is that they are full of people who care about doing a great job, who feel involved, and whose opinions really count.

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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