Retaining valuable employees is top global priority for CEOS this year

Retaining valuable employees is top global priority for CEOS this yearThe number one priority of business leaders worldwide this year is how best to develop, engage, manage, and retain existing talent. This worker-centric approach means that employee engagement and better management will take centre stage as the way to improve competitiveness, win new customers and raise productivity. According to new research from The Conference Board and UK partner CMI (Chartered Management Institute), CEOs will concentrate on creating a strong internal talent pipeline rather than seeking to recruit externally, with nine out of the top 10 global Human Capital strategies focused on current employees, including providing training and development, raising employee engagement and increasing efforts to retain critical talent. Other closely linked priorities identified in the CEO Challenge 2014 are customer relationships, innovation, operational excellence, and corporate brand and reputation.

Ethical working is also high on the agenda, with integrity rated as the most important leadership attribute. The findings also emphasise the importance of management performance, with “improving leadership development programmes” now ranked 5th globally, rising from 10th last year – and being ranked number one by European CEOs when it comes to strategies for building Human Capital.

For the first time this year, the survey of CEOs, presidents, and chairmen from more than 1,000 companies around the world to identify the leadership attributes most critical to future success. Integrity was rated number one globally, suggesting bosses have learnt lessons from recent high-profile ethical scandals. The other top five most important leadership attributes were leading change, managing complexity, an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to retain and develop talent.

CMI’s Director of Strategy, Petra Wilton, comments: “Building world-class workforces is a top challenge for CEOs, who are looking to help their organisations hit new levels of performance in 2014. It’s good to see European leaders in particular recognising that leadership development is critical to getting this right. Leadership attributes like integrity, leading change and managing complexity are fundamental to cracking the challenges facing managers and leaders in the year ahead, and will be absolutely key to future success.”

Rebecca Ray, Senior Vice President, Human Capital at The Conference Board, and a co-author of the report, says: “Though particular strategies vary from region to region, business leaders worldwide are working  to optimise their greatest resource—their employees and those who will lead them. This emphasis on people-related issues makes perfect sense in a still-uncertain economy.

“Building a culture that supports engagement, employee training, leadership development, and high performance is something companies can control, and is making the difference between growing market share and simply surviving in 2014. Moreover, if the focus of individual companies is sustained, Human Capital may well be the engine that revives economic growth.”

Petra Wilton continues: “This new global research is a reminder that it’s imperative the UK keeps up with international competitors. The findings reinforce the case for ‘Valuing your Talent’, a new initiative CMI is collaborating on with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, CIPD, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Investors in People and the Royal Society for the Arts. The initiative aims to create practical tools business leaders can use measure and improve their people management and development processes – benefiting individuals, organisations and the UK as a whole. If UK businesses are to get productivity up to pre-recession levels and compete globally, talent development must be a priority.”

For more information and to download the report click here.