CEOs need to hire, but can they find the right skills?

17 Jul 2014

A survey, ‘Adapt to survive’’ commissioned by LinkedIn and carried out by PwC, shows a strong correlation between the adaptability of talent in a particular country and the performance of its companies.

The survey, sampling LinkedIn’s 277 million members and using PwC’s Saratoga database of more than 2,600 employers, suggests that markets with the most adaptable talent are more efficient and productive. Estimates in the survey show that a better talent fit in the 11 countries surveyed could unlock a total of $130 billion in additional productivity. Recruiting and retaining adaptable talent, therefore, is not just about organisational upward mobility, but about wider economic health.

But seismic shocks to the global economy have, according to CEOs, disrupted typical workforce practices. Research suggests that demographic shifts are conspiring to make talent management and even basic recruitment a huge challenge for businesses, at a time when they need the talent most and when many (around 50%) are looking to expand their headcount. An ageing population, a drop in the working age population, educated nationals returning home and the elimination of jobs by technology all threaten to leave businesses high and dry.

Survival, say experts, will rest on CEOs’ ability to manage these powerful global trends by making their businesses as risk resilient as possible. But around 63% of executives are worried about the availability of key skills, and more have greater confidence that the global economy will improve than that their own business will grow.

The commissioned survey suggests some actions that various stakeholders - including educators, employers and the government – can take to mitigate or harness the effects of demographic, economic and technological trends.

For individuals, it’s recommended that they ‘future proof’ their careers, by getting qualifications, being adaptable and willing to move, and by building networks. Educators are encouraged to focus their courses on producing adaptable learners. Governments should encourage labour mobility and reskill the ageing workforce, among other approaches. But the biggest challenge is for employers and goes right to the heart of the governance of organisations.

Employers, recommends the paper, should seek out, nurture and reward adaptable talent. They should recalibrate their reward culture to prioritise those who are most adaptable, and they should embed adaptability into people management programmes. They should also harness ‘big data’ and use analytics to identify skills that are central to the business strategy today and in the future.