Survey Points to 5 Critical Talent Management Trends for 2012

I’m always interested in surveys that look ahead and give some sense of where we might be going, even if they don’t always seem to get the forecast quite right.

That’s why this new survey just released by Taleo caught my eye. It’s called U.S. Talent Trends for 2012 (you can sign up for a copy here), and it summarizes both the 2011 business climate as well as the talent management trends we can expect this year.

The five key findings from the survey are as follows:

  1. The economic uncertainty of 2011 will continue into 2012, requiring a new level of business focus on existing talent to drive growth and innovation
  2. There will be continued blurring of the boundaries between internal and external talent and a significant increase in social recruiting.
  3. An aging population and a lack of investment in training and development results in continuing skills shortages.
  4. There will be an accelerating interest in more integrated talent solutions.
  5. Talent management will be recognized as a core business process.

Developing the current workforce

Here’s some of the survey analysis that resonated with me:

As very few businesses expect to increase their workforce in 2012, they will rely more heavily on developing their current workforce for critical roles rather than hiring external talent. In evaluating whether they have the right people in the right positions to drive growth, many employers are finding that they lack the necessary data, processes, culture, and technology to deliver true insight into their most valuable company asset – employees. This lack of ‘talent intelligence’ will hold companies back and limit growth until it is addressed.

Taleo anticipates a key area of focus in 2012 will be on building out talent profiles. While talent management programs have historically focused on executives and senior management, 2012 will see a shift to include line managers and rank-and-file employees as businesses seek to better leverage talent throughout their organizations.”

“As the era of economic uncertainty continues, the ability to collect talent data, gain insight, and make informed decisions about people and processes will become increasingly important,” said Dave Wilkins, vice president of Taleo Research, in a press release about the survey results. “U.S. business leaders are becoming more involved in the definition of talent management system requirements and even the selection process, triggering a dramatic increase in the adoption of solutions that satisfy their data, analysis, and reporting demands. For these companies, talent data and processes will be held in the same regard as critical business data and processes.”

Why a talent management focus is important

Although Taleo’s focus is squarely on the systems involved to handle talent management and talent data, the underlying focus of this survey is critically important for all organizations everywhere. Yes, it is critically important to develop our current workforce for critical roles, and yes, the talent management focus in companies needs to drive deeper into line managers and rank-and-file employees too.

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It’s been a lack of focus on talent management by so many organizations during and after the Great Recession that has led us into so much of the difficulty so many companies now face when it comes to their workforce. And, it will take nothing but a complete turnaround to this approach to get us out of that.

Although it is impossible to tell just how the data and information for U.S. Talent Trends for 2012 was gathered (for some reason, Taleo did not release any information on how the survey was taken, or any insight into the audience that was sampled), the findings should resonate with most anyone who has been dealing with talent management issues over the past several years. That’s because you have lived through these issues, continue to struggle with them, and know that solving them is a huge challenge for managers everywhere.

And, it ends with this small piece of wisdom:

The Taleo report underscores the fact that organizations are looking to maximize the value of their people given the global economic climate and the potential for serious systemic shock. With an ability to consider the complete talent picture, leading companies will be able to hire and retain highly-engaged talent regardless of macro-economic forces, enabling greater organizational continuity and teamwork during periods of growth or recession.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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