Companies Worldwide Struggle to Attract and Retain Critical-Skill and High Potential Employees, Towers Watson Survey Finds

Canadian Employers See No Let Up in Stress Levels

TORONTO, Sept. 19, 2012 /CNW/ - A vast majority of companies worldwide, including a growing number of Canadian companies, continue to struggle with attracting and retaining the high-potential and critically-skilled employees necessary to increase their global competitiveness, according to a new survey conducted by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). 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, found that nearly two-thirds of Canadian respondents (61%) cite problems attracting critical-skill employees while just over 40% are having difficulty attracting high-potential talent and roughly a third (35%) are finding it hard to attract  top-performing workers.  More than 30% of respondents also reported difficulty retaining critical-skill, high-potential and top performing employees.

"The demand for the best talent is as strong as ever, especially given a challenging economy and ongoing growth in global competition. However, many employers are not taking advantages of opportunities to attract, retain and engage high-value employees by offering a work environment and total rewards programs that are most important to them," said Ofelia Isabel, Towers Watson's Canadian Leader for Talent and Rewards.

In fact, there appears to be a mismatch between what employers are offering and what employees are looking for.  According to the survey, Canadian employees, including top talent, are more focused on competitive base pay and job security. Employers, on the other hand, are emphasizing other items such as challenging work and the organization's reputation as a good employer.

The study also found that Canadian employees continue to experience high levels of stress at work.  Close to half (47%) of Canadian respondents indicate that employees often experience excessive pressure in their job and almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) report their employees have been working more hours than normal during the past three years. The majority (53%) expect to maintain this trend for the next three years.

Canadian Employers Cite Greater Confidence Than U.S Companies in Two Key Aspects of Performance Management

Canadian companies see themselves as more effective than U.S. companies in two key areas of their performance management process. 64% of Canadian employers believe their performance management process effectively links salary increases to individual performance results. While the Canadian results were consistent with the global responses (with 62% citing an effective link between salary increases and individual performance results), only 51% of U.S. companies cited that same level of confidence. However, Canadian employers see themselves as slightly less effective at linking bonus payouts to individual performance results. While 65% of companies globally believe they are doing an effective job with this aspect of performance management, only 55% of Canadian companies responded similarly.  U.S. companies felt even less confident with just 44% believing they are doing a good job of linking bonus to actual performance.

When asked to rate the effectiveness of managers in the performance management process, Canadian employers are more confident than their U.S. peers, but lag their global counterparts. Canadian employers saw their managers as less effective at setting individual performance goals (52% globally vs. 41% in Canada), giving employees regular coaching and feedback (39% vs. 28%) and conducting career development discussions (33% vs. 26%).

"As Canadian  employers seek to grow profitably during a period of economic volatility, their focus needs to be on crafting an employee value proposition that helps to attract and retain talented and critical skill employees — and that engages the entire workforce," said Tracey Malcolm, a Director in Talent Management at Towers Watson. "Effective leadership development, performance management and succession planning programs will be keys to getting it right.  While Canadian employers give themselves higher marks compared to their U.S. counterparts, the fact that they scored themselves lower than the global norms suggests that there is still room to improve our talent management processes and outcomes."

About the Survey

The Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey was conducted in late April through early June of 2012, and includes responses from 1,605 companies worldwide., The participants represent a wide range of industries and come from a broad cross section geographically.

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at

SOURCE: Towers Watson

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