Talent is top priority for CEOs says PwC survey

Managing talent has overtaken risk as top of the CEO agenda, according to analysis from PwC’s 14th annual CEO survey.

An overwhelming 93% of the 31 CEOs surveyed in Kenya plan to change their firm’s talent management strategy over the next 12 months, compared to 83% of the 1200 CEOs surveyed globally. The next priorities are risk management and investment, with 91% and 87% of Kenya CEOs respectively anticipating changes in these areas—compared to 77% and 76% of global CEOs. Last year risk management was the number one priority for 84% of CEOs, followed by investment (81%), and talent third (79%).

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, the picture varies somewhat. On average, CEOs almost equally prioritise risk, talent and investment with 88% citing risk as their top priority, 86% citing talent and 85% citing investment. CEOs in countries such as Angola and Tanzania are overwhelmingly focused on managing talent, with 100% of CEOs saying that this is a priority, whereas just 60% of Nigeria CEOs say the same.

Kuria Muchiru, Country Senior Partner, PwC Kenya, says:

“CEOs in Kenya were confident of revenue prospects over the next 12 months and three years. To meet these targets and address challenges along the way, they are focusing on their people. 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 is 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 in Kenya anticipate the main change to talent management will be using more non-financial rewards to motivate staff (84%). Overall, 78% of CEOs in Africa are using this strategy to motivate staff.

Kuria says: “Staff are not motivated by pay alone. Firms need to make sure employees are engaged financially and emotionally. 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 increased work with government and education systems to improve skills (73%) and incentivising younger workers differently (53%).

Kuria comments:

“There are clear benefits to working with government and education systems. CEOs in Kenya are saying that fostering a skilled workforce is helping them to improve national competitiveness.”

Indeed 87% of CEOs in Kenya believe the main challenge to talent over the next few years will be competitors recruiting their best people, much higher than the average for Africa (68%) and global respondents (52%) who expressed concern about this challenge. The next most pressing challenge is a limited supply of candidates with the right skills, among 65% of CEOs in Kenya.

Women are another important source of potential talent and while some businesses have taken note, there is still a long way to go. Just 26% of Kenya CEOs surveyed say that they will change their policies to attract and retain more women and only 6% of CEOs say that poor retention of female talent is a challenge affecting growth prospects over the next three years.

As part of the global CEO Survey, PwC conducted interviews with 201 CEOs in Sub-Saharan Africa, including 31 CEO interviews in Kenya. Results and insights derived from CEO interviews in Africa will be published by PwC in a report titled The Africa Business Agenda: Opportunities aligned in June 2011.