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Employers that fail to formally identify staff potential risk losing hidden gems

CIPD People Management


Vicki Arnstein 21 Jan 2016

Survey reveals that more than three-quarters of organisations have no talent
assessment process

The majority of employers (79 per cent) have no assessment processes or tools
in place to spot employees with potential that could help the business in future, a
survey has revealed.

The research with 1,000 managers, conducted by HR consultancy Penna, also

found that 30 per cent of respondents said their organisation had no single
definition of what potential looks like for them.

This is despite a similarly high proportion (81 per cent) agreeing that developing
staff potential was either 'fairly' or 'extremely' important.

A third of respondents said they lacked senior management support for

formalising the process, while a quarter said it wasn't a business priority. And a
further 24 per cent said there was little point identifying talent because there
were no development programmes in place to support it.

Yet survey respondents did recognised that a lack of talent management could
lead to staff disengagement (cited by 50 per cent), high staff turnover and
recruitment costs (43 per cent) and decreased productivity (34 per cent).

Penna also surveyed 1,000 employees. Of these, 71 per cent said they were
more likely to stay with an organisation that recognised their potential, but 24
per cent had no idea whether or not their company thought they had what it

Respondents to the employee survey said that when potential was recognised,
only 23 per cent said there had been any investment in developing their skills.

And when potential was identified, employees in the 25 to 34 age range were
seen to be the focus of attention for 62 per cent of managers.

From the findings, Penna estimated that 23 per cent of talent has quit their
organisations in the past twelve months due to lack of talent recognition.

Penny de Valk, managing director of Penna Talent Practice, advised organisations

to take a more disciplined and systematic approach to identifying potential.

It is time organisations recognised the importance of spotting potential and did

something about it. Organisations need to have a clear definition of what
potential actually looks like, a clear way of measuring it, and link this to
appropriate development interventions to ensure potential is optimised," she

Lesley Uren, talent management expert at PA Consulting Group, said focussing

on the 25 to 34 age group could be a significant problem for organisations in the
future. "We know people are going to spend longer in work and the days of
thinking potential is fixed are gone. Potential changes because aspirations and
ambitions change," she said.

Uren advised organisations to look deeper than the top 250 people when
mapping out talent. "You need to look at talent as being those individuals who
drive competitive advantage for your organisation, which may mean you are
looking much deeper and focussing on people who are close to the customer, as
opposed to people who are close to the board."

She also urged businesses to mine their data for talent information, such as that
collected during the interview and review process. "We lose memory of the
things people were good at before they joined. There is a lot of hidden talent and
skills and the data is there - we don't mine it."