Bridging the Gap between Employers’ and Employees’ Needs is Key to “Future-Proofing” HR, New Mercer Study Finds

Significant Differences Exist between Employers’ Plans for Developing Talent and Employees’ Views on an Effective Workplace

NEW YORK--()--With tightening labor markets, increased sophistication in hiring for best fit, and a more demanding employee population, the key to achieving business growth is radically redefining how talent is managed, developed, and incentivized. According to Mercer’s 2016 Global Talent Trends Study – the first to take into account the perspective of both employers and employees – a lack of development, outdated processes, and discontent with the role of managers are the main drivers of workforce dissatisfaction. Astonishingly, 85% of organizations report that their talent management programs and policies need an overhaul. Managing these changes requires support from leadership; however only 4% of HR professionals report that the HR function is viewed as a strategic business partner within their organizations.

Additionally, Mercer’s study finds 9 out of 10 organizations anticipate that the competition for talent will increase in 2016 and more than one-third expect this increase to be significant. However, despite 70% of organizations reporting they are confident about filling critical roles with internal candidates, 28% of employees say they plan to leave in the next 12 months even though they are satisfied with their current role.

“Employers are experiencing ever-growing competition for labor. At the same time, unemployment remains high in many countries around the world. The issue goes well beyond lack of available talent,” said Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President of Mercer’s Talent business. “It’s a lack of the right talent where and when it is needed to drive competitive advantage and deliver business results. For talent that has analytic skills, inspirational leadership capability, and a global mindset, demand continues to exceed the supply.”

Kate Bravery, Partner and Global Solutions Leader for Mercer’s Talent business added, “Employees today have more options than ever before. They are demanding a new value proposition that combines greater career support with flexibility to manage their work and more opportunities to develop their skills. HR professionals are challenged to meet employees’ demands and achieve a talent advantage, especially if they don’t have a seat at the table – and this is crucial if they are to remain a viable part in the talent ecosystem.”

Workforce trends and top priorities

In today’s global environment, successful talent strategies depend on an organization’s ability to engage, inspire, and retain employees of different genders, ages, races, and backgrounds. According to Mercer’s study, leveraging an increasingly diverse labor pool is the third most important workforce trend impacting business, following the rising competition for talent from emerging economies and talent scarcity.

The importance that organizations have placed on developing a diverse workforce has not translated into actions that are visible to employees. While 73% of companies are working towards diverse leadership teams, only 54% of employees say their organization has effective programs in place to do so.

“Bridging the gap between employee and employer views will require substantial changes from HR,” said Ms. Bravery. “This includes improved operational capabilities around talent sourcing, enhanced tools and managerial capabilities to deliver a compelling career proposition, and proficiency in workforce analytics for a data-driven approach to managing talent flows.”

In tackling talent issues, employers need to make sure that their efforts to build the workplace of the future have a material impact on attraction and productivity. Mercer’s study identified five priorities for organizations to address this year:

  • Build diverse talent pools
  • Embrace the new work equation
  • Architect compelling careers
  • Simplify talent processes
  • Redefine the value of HR

While these priorities are consistent across organizations and regions, they are viewed differently by employees and employers.

Differences by region

Employees in North America are most likely to say that they have the resources they need to be more productive; 73% report that they have the right tools and technology, and 69% report that they have creative training available. Additionally, 58% of organizations in North America plan to make changes to their performance management programs, with nearly 30% planning to eliminate ratings in 2016, compared to 22% globally. “Organizations have invested heavily in HR technology in the past few years, which has enabled HR to focus on playing a more strategic role,” said Pat Tomlinson, Senior Partner and North America Region Talent Business Leader for Mercer. “Now it’s time to upskill HR to provide that value to the business, especially in areas such as predictive analytics and design thinking.”

Explained Ms. Bravery, “As organizations are faced with a global, diverse workforce in a period of rising skills shortage, they are being forced to rethink their talent infrastructure. This study shows that the workforce of today may be the most career orientated that we’ve seen – and this is forcing a new level of transparency between employers and employees. Successful companies will navigate these changes by not only challenging how work has been done in the past, but by actively considering how it could, and might, be done tomorrow.”

Mercer’s 2016 Global Talent Trends Study examines the top trends impacting today’s workforce and how organizations are responding. The study, which incorporates the views of both employers and employees on key workplace issues and priorities, is based on the perspectives of more than 1,730 HR leaders and over 4,500 employees in all industries across 17 countries.

For more information about Mercer’s 2016 Global Talent Trends Study, visit To download the full report, visit

About Mercer

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE:MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 60,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.


Stacy Bronstein, + 1 215 982 8025

Release Summary

Significant differences exist between employers’ plans for developing talent and employees’ views on an effective workplace.


Stacy Bronstein, + 1 215 982 8025