NEW YORK — Despite stubbornly high unemployment, with recent reports of job gains showing a modest decline in the U.S. unemployment rate, human resource professionals have continued concerns about attracting and retaining top talent, according to a new survey. This talent paradox, combined with the dynamics of four distinct generations in the workforce, points to the need for more effective and adaptable talent strategies and rewards programs.

The 2013 “Top Five Global Employer Rewards Priorities Survey” from Deloitte, the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS), and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reveals that human resource professionals are acutely focused on talent as the top challenge and priority over the next three years. Approximately one in four respondents cited finding, motivating, and keeping talent as their top priority.

In an era of limited economic growth compressing job opportunities, it would seem that there should be enough talent to go around, but that is not the reality.

“As boomers retire, many companies face a conundrum for how to fill jobs quickly. Their hiring strategies may need to go beyond simply preparing to fill the positions with a stockpile of resumes,” said David Lusk, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-author of the report. “Leading employers understand that their employees have choices. Their ability to quickly fill roles, particularly those requiring highly-skilled talent, often depends on having world-class total rewards programs with benefits that outpace the competition in addition to offering training, leadership and mentoring programs, and other non-traditional forms of rewards and recognition.”

The report highlights the challenges of addressing the needs of a diverse range of generations. According to the report’s authors, this generational diversity is putting a strain on companies and their leadership to identify and implement effective rewards programs as each generation is marked with distinct values and expectations. This is reinforced by the finding that only 61 percent of respondents either somewhat agree or strongly agree that their organization’s leadership team understands the differing generational values in the workforce; more than one in four respondents (28 percent) indicate their organization does not have the correct total rewards strategy in place to recruit and retain the talent needed in their workforce.

“The reality of today’s workplace is one where four distinct generations can be seen in the same workforce,” said Michael Wilson, CEO of the International Foundation and ISCEBS. “To stay competitive, companies have to redefine their total rewards programs to motivate, attract, and retain employees at every stage within their career and with somewhat divergent demands from their employer.”

Publication date: 4/15/2013