Study: Companies Struggle to Attract Critical-Skill, High-Potential Employees

New York — Sept. 19

A majority of companies, including a growing number in the U.S., still struggle with attracting and retaining the high-potential and critical-skill employees, according to a new survey by global professional services firm Towers Watson and WorldatWork, an international association of human resource professionals.

The survey also found that employees are experiencing high levels of stress, a trend that many employers and employees expect to continue for the next three years.

The Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey, a study of 1,605 companies globally, including 278 from the U.S., found that nearly 72 percent of respondents cite problems attracting critical-skill employees, while roughly 60 percent of employers are having difficulty attracting high-potential and top-performing workers.

In the U.S., the number of employers having difficulty attracting employees with critical skills increased for the third consecutive year, to 61 percent — nearly the same percentage as in 2005 and 2006, when economic growth was stronger and unemployment rates were significantly lower.

More than half of all respondents also reported difficulty retaining critical-skill, high-potential and top-performing employees.

The study also found that employees continue to experience high levels of stress at work. Close to half (48 percent) of respondents indicate that employees often experience excessive pressure in their job, and slightly more than half (53 percent) report their employees worked more hours than normal during the past three years.

Also, nearly as many (43 percent) expect to maintain that pace for the next three years.

In the U.S., stress levels are even higher, with 61 percent saying that employees at their organization often experience excessive pressure on the job. Nearly three in four (71 percent) U.S. participants say employees are working more hours, while almost two-thirds (63 percent) expect that trend to continue over the next three years.

Source: Towers Watson