Talent Risk: Growth’s Most Significant Threat

By Claudia Paoletti – Managing Partner Kilpatrick

The evidence emerging from KPMG’s ‘Global CEO Outlook Survey 2020’ is very interesting. The annual research conducted on 1,300 CEOs active in 11 of the main global economies, including Italy, includes a particular study on the impacts of coronavirus. In fact, this year’s survey offers a unique perspective on the change in mentality of global CEOs after the first lockdown. KPMG initially interviewed 1,300 CEOs in January and February, before many key markets began to perceive the full impact of the crisis, and subsequently in July and August KPMG conducted a follow-up survey of some CEOs across the world to understand how CEO thinking had evolved during the crisis.

The figure that more or less everyone expected is that 80 percent of managers say the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation by stating that we have gained years over where they would have expected to be right now without what happened in the world. 

In addition to this unanimous statement on digital progress, there is a new element that strongly impacts the human aspect: in January and February, before the coronavirus spread and turned into a pandemic, CEOs relegated the risks associated with the difficulty of finding new talent in the market and keeping them in 12th place among their concerns; today, however, this item is at the top of the list in 1st place and is perceived as the most significant threat to companies’ growth.

Source: KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook: Covid-19 Special Edition

The very high risk of not being able to find the talent and, even stronger, of not being able to retain it have become key elements for many companies that, especially at this time, have fully realized that the difference within them is made by the person.

The particular moment we are experiencing has pushed companies to invest more in technology but, alongside the leaders who lead the digital transformation, it is necessary to involve employees at various levels and on different functions with a good overview that are able to take up the challenge and drag other colleagues into the change without making them live as a threat but as an opportunity.

The challenge related to digitization is in fact wide and complex. Technical skills are not enough, but a radical change in the company’s modus operandi is necessary and the greatest difficulty lies in finding the right balance between human and technological capital. New organizational models, new responsibilities and new skills are needed to enhance the most important capital, human capital.

At a time like this it is difficult to identify a trend, in fact most companies and managers and even us headhunters navigate by sight. What is clear, however, is that, as KPMG’s analysis points out, many entrepreneurs and managers have realized the importance of some people for their team and the need to motivate and retain them. Unfortunately, in some cases, there is also evidence of employees not achieving the expected performance and struggling to keep up with the times and difficulties of the moment, and companies are making their own assessments of the organization of the future and the necessary skills to bring in.

Surely the demands will be high compared to hard and soft skills of the candidates to be evaluated because they will have to fill the gap that has emerged in recent months. The word “Talent” will therefore be more and more current, and it will be necessary to look for the “hidden gems” inside and outside organizations.

Finally, it is important to underline that the role of HR has acquired great value and recognition during this period. Companies that have faced the difficulties of the pandemic with all that has resulted without professional, decisive and modern support from the HR Manager have certainly done and are still doing a lot of hard work. The fact that the labor market is moving compared to people specializing in human capital speaks of a need that has matured in recent months and confirms what emerged from the KPMG’s survey: the difficulty of finding and retaining new talent as one of the main risks for the growth of companies.

Read the whole survey here