Mercer's Critical Talent Practices Survey

Mercer's Critical Talent Practices Survey

Mercer's Critical Talent Practices Survey finds minority of programs "extremely effective"

  • 24-March-2014
  • United States, New York

Mercer’s Critical Talent Practices Survey examines the strategies and tactics that organizations are using to attract, retain and engage key employees in today’s environment. This survey found that while nearly two-thirds (64%) of organizations surveyed by Mercer believe that managing critical talent is essential to success, fewer than one-third (30%) say they have programs that are “extremely effective” in achieving that goal.

“Companies are not capitalizing on all the approaches and resources available, such as monitoring talent through workforce analytics,” said Loree Griffith, Principal in Mercer’s Talent practice. “While companies spend a good deal of time and money identifying and rewarding top employees, they put much less effort into formally tracking and communicating the development of talent – areas that can surely make talent strategies more effective."

According to Mercer’s survey findings, three-quarters (75%) of organizations employ processes to identify critical talent with approximately 2-5% of the workforce categorized as critical. However, less than half (49%) of organizations notify critical talent of their status and just 34% track the status of their critical talent in their HR systems.

“While companies believe managing critical employees is necessary to execute a successful talent strategy, most do not take time to forecast critical talent needs and develop employees for these roles which could positively impact retention and engagement efforts,” said Matthew Stevenson, Mercer’s North America Workforce Analytics & Planning Practice Leader.

According to Mercer’s survey, high-performers are most often identified by how well they performed in the past, as indicated by 62% organizations. “Since future needs and current performance both play a role, companies may be overlooking employees for critical roles,” explained Dr. Stevenson.

One of the most effective ways to retain critical talent is to ensure transparency so that critical performers understand their status. This can be the foundation to understand such performers’ career aspirations and to find ways to enrich the employee experience. According to the Mercer survey, the ability to make a difference in the job function leads the list, reported by 59% of organizations. Other non-cash rewards identified include career progression (53%), healthy living/wellness (49%) and recognition (45%). Interestingly, just 27% of organizations incorporate pay into their employment brand to attract and retain top talent.

Whether formal or informal, more than half (56%) of participating organizations believe it is important to build an employment brand for attracting, retaining and engaging critical talent.

“Given companies’ focus on employment branding and the prevalence of non-cash rewards, better communication with critical talent along with greater transparency regarding critical talent status are two worthy considerations to further differentiate the employee experience,” said Ms. Griffith.

Mercer’s Critical Talent Practices Survey includes responses from more than 120 employers across all industries throughout the US and Canada. To download the survey results, visit:

About Mercer

Mercer is a global 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 42 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global team of professional services companies offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and human capital. With over 55,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $12 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerInsights.