Top 5 Challenges facing employers in 2012


By Kate Southam

Employers have a difficult road to hoe this year with economic uncertainty, skills shortage and restless workers all on the HR agenda.

According to human capital specialists Mercer there are five main people issues that will impact business in 2012.

1.    Need to explore new talent opportunities within slow growth sectors to combat skill shortages
2.    Voluntary turnover
3.    Avoid the two-strikes; engage shareholders early on executive remuneration
4.    Plug the leaky pipeline: make 2012 a year for action on retaining women
5.    Address the needs of the fastest-growing employee segment – older workers.

Rob Bebbington, head of Mercer’s Human Capital business in Australia and New Zealand striking the right balance between building a workforce for growth and planning for the “risks ahead”.

“Companies need to strike the right balance between building the workforce they need to grow, while carefully planning for the risks ahead.

1.    Exploring talent opportunities to combat skill shortages

Companies in the high growth resources and mining sector are still intending to hire, but are finding it hard to come by the skills and talent they need; whereas the retail and manufacturing sectors are being squeezed by weak consumer confidence and are losing valuable staff as they manage amidst ongoing economic uncertainty.

Employers within high growth sectors or industries need to review their hiring strategy and consider potential employees who have skills that can be transferred and developed with training. This will help to alleviate pressure felt in other sectors and expose companies to a potential new talent pool.

2.    Voluntary turnover on the rise again?

Research from Mercer’s What’s Working survey in early 2011 revealed four in 10 workers in Australia wanted to leave their job. While economic jitters might have put some job changing plans on hold for now, a stronger economy next year could see those already restless job hunting.

Mercer advises employers not to make knee-jerk reactions or risk losing people who will be integral to growth in the medium term. This uncertainty is a timely reminder that companies should have effective workforce planning in place with strategies to attract, retain and develop key employee segments and top performers.

3.    Avoid the two-strikes; engage shareholders early on executive remuneration

One of the biggest changes affecting executive remuneration in 2011 was the introduction of the two strikes rule, which effectively grants shareholders the power to force a vote for Directors to stand for re-election.

The 2012 AGM season will mark the second time shareholders have had this vote. Companies should be planning now to reduce the likelihood of a two strikes vote by reviewing their remuneration strategy to ensure it aligns with the market and the internal business and talent strategy, whilst ensuring shareholders are engaged throughout the process.

4.    Plug the leaky pipeline: make 2012 a year for action on retaining women

Women in leadership was a much talked about topic in 2011, yet despite the talk only 1 in 4 or 26 per cent of Australian and New Zealand companies have a clearly defined strategy to attract and retain women long enough to reach senior leadership positions.

This year is an opportune time for companies to take decisive action and gain a first mover advantage on providing programs that better support talented women in their organisation.

5.    Address the needs of older workers

More than one in five workers will be aged 55 or over this year and the biggest increase in labour force will be amongst females aged 60 plus.

However, research from Mercer’s 2011 What’s Working survey found older workers are feeling left out of career development opportunities. Only 40 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 feel they have sufficient opportunities for growth and development.

HR directors/leaders need to look at where their older employees are best placed within the organisation. They should also look at how the skills and experience of older workers can be shared to prepare the next generation of leaders/managers., April 2012.


Related articles you might be interested in reading