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Leadership Shortages Identified as Critical Business Challenge in 2008 Corporate Talent Factbook

Thursday July 10, 2008

These findings are extensively discussed in the company’s most recent research study, 2008 Talent Management Factbook: Global Trends, Facts, and Strategies in Corporate Talent Management.

“Three critical issues are converging to create a talent squeeze in corporations today,” said Josh Bersin, president. ”First, aging and retiring workers are creating talent voids at all levels. Second, the rapid influx of young workers is creating a critical need for career development and succession management to fill these gaps. And third, the slowing economy is forcing organizations to demand higher performance out of the current workforce.”

“This is a wake-up call for business-driven talent management,” said Bersin. “Only 7% of organizations have strong leadership development and succession management programs in place today, and these companies see a six-fold greater return from their talent investments.”

The 2008 Talent Management Factbook® examines all aspects of corporate talent management, including workforce planning, sourcing and recruiting, performance management, competency management, and leadership development. In addition to analysis of business and talent trends, the study identifies talent strategies and maturity levels by industry and geography.

Representative findings include:

-    The U.S. economy is clearly under stress. In the last six months, cost-cutting has become the top business issue in U.S. businesses. By contrast, in Europe and Asia where economies continue to expand, organizations are focused on managing business change and dealing with competitive threats.

-    The top three workforce challenges for U.S. companies are gaps in the leadership pipeline, building a performance-driven culture, and difficulty in filling key employee positions.

-    Key shortages in qualified line managers, business unit executives, sales staff, and IT professionals continue to challenge businesses globally. These shortages are more acute in Asia and Europe than in the United States.

-    Only 38% of organizations have a clear talent management strategy in place to deal with these issues; 37% are just getting started; 27% have no strategy in place at all.

-    Skills shortages also appear within corporate human resources. Only 15% of surveyed executives believe their organizations have the necessary skills in place to deal with current talent challenges. Twenty-three percent rate their organizations as unprepared.

-    Many organizations are planning software purchases to help address talent management problems. Twenty-three percent of those surveyed say their companies are considering purchases of recruiting software and 19% are currently shopping for performance management software. Bersin & Associates research finds that such software purchases can generate disappointing returns unless implemented as part of an integrated talent management strategy.

“We are proud to be a part of this ground-breaking research,” said David Shadovitz, editor and publisher of HR Executive magazine. “This is a challenging time for HR executives, given the economic climate. This research clarifies the most pressing problems we face, shows us where organizations are lacking, and offers specific guidelines for building and refining talent management strategies and processes.”

The 135-page study is available at no cost to all Bersin & Associates research members. Non-members can purchase the study for $695.

For more details, including an audio overview of the research and a table of contents, click here. Bersin & Associates is also conducting a complimentary webinar on Tuesday, July 15, at 2:00 p.m. ET, conducted by Karen O’Leonard, principal analyst for the research. To register, click here.

About Bersin & Associates

Bersin & Associates is the only research and advisory firm focused solely on research in enterprise learning and talent management. The company’s WhatWorks® research and research-based services are designed to deliver actionable and practical guidance and to improve operational effectiveness and business impact.

Bersin & Associates research members gain access to a comprehensive library of best practices, case studies, benchmarks, and in-depth market analyses designed to assist professionals in making fast and confident decisions. Research areas include planning and strategy, learning programs and delivery, talent management, technology and infrastructure, and measurement and analytics. Member benefits include strategic advisory services, briefings, forums, analyst interaction, and workshops.

Bersin & Associates is the host of the industry’s only annual research conference on enterprise learning and talent management.


: The Business of Talent®, will be held April 14-16, 2009, in St Petersburg, Florida.

For more information, go to or call 561-455-0622, extension 224.


Bersin & Associates
Linda Galloway,
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