Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study Spills the Key to “Future-Proofing” HR


mercerGAUTENG, South Africa, August 8, 2016/ — Mercer’s (www.iMercer.com2016 Global Talent Trends Study examines the top trends impacting today’s workforce and how organisations 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. South Africa was also a part of this global study.

With tightening labour 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 incentivised. According to Mercer’s study, the first study to take into account the perspective of both employers and employees – a lack of development, outdated processes, and discontent with the role of managers are the main drivers of workforce dissatisfaction.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 organisations report that their talent management programmes 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 organisations.

Additionally, Mercer’s study finds 9 out of 10 organisations 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 organisations 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.

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Workforce trends and top priorities
In today’s global environment, successful talent strategies depend on an organisation’s ability to engage, inspire, and retain employees of different genders, ages, races, and backgrounds. According to Mercer’s study, leveraging an increasingly diverse labour 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 organisations 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 organisation has effective programmes in place to do so.

Bridging the gap between employee and employer views will require substantial changes from HR. 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 will have a material impact on attraction and productivity. Mercer’s study identified five priorities for organisations to address this year: 1) Build diverse talent pools, 2) Embrace the new work equation,3) Architect compelling career, 4) Simplify talent processes, 5) Redefine the value of HR. While these priorities are consistent across organisations and regions, they are viewed differently by employees and employers.


Only half of employees in Europe (51%) report that their leaders are engaged in championing development programmes. Additionally, fewer European organisations plan to make changes to their performance management programmes in 2016 (53% compared to 57% globally). Competition for the right talent is just as intense in Europe as it is globally. As well as competing for talent, employers need to nurture the talent in their organisations.

North America
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 organisations in North America plan to make changes to their performance management programmes, with nearly 30% planning to eliminate ratings in 2016, compared to 22% globally.

Employees in Asia are the least likely to report that flexible work schedules would improve their work situation (38% compared to 46% globally). Notably, organisations in Asia recognise the importance of HR skills and are more likely to invest in upskilling; 44% in the region and 53% in China have plans in place to build this capability in 2016 (compared to 36% globally).

Big data management is a trend that is influencing the people agenda in Australia more than any other region (it is one of the three top trends influencing talent plans in 2016). Additionally, more than three-quarters (79%) of employers in Australia are focused on developing local leaders in emerging economies, compared to 62% globally. Yet transparency with pay is an area of contention; the findings show just 81% of organisations report they are transparent compared to just 58% of employees.

Latin America
Despite high levels of confidence in development efforts by employers, only half (56%)of employees in Latin America report that their leaders are engaged in championing development programmes. Latin America is the only region where managing a contingent workforce is a workforce trend impacting talent management plans this year. Additionally, 62% of companies in Latin America plan to make changes to their performance management programmes in 2016 compared to 57% globally.

South Africa highlights from the survey:

Almost one third (31%) of South African companies report HR process simplification as a top talent management priority in 2016. South Africa reported the highest score on this amongst all countries that contributed to the survey. Additionally a very high percentage of 83% of the companies state that their work environment (workplace design, layout and amenities) supports employee productivity. Furthermore, 83% of companies are stating that their leaders are being held accountable for attracting and supporting diverse, inclusive teams. For performance management ratings, more than one-half (55%) of South African companies did not make any changes to their ratings in 2015. However, almost one-third (31%) of South African companies did eliminate ratings in 2015.  This is the second highest percent across all countries .Finally four in ten (41%) South African companies report that a change plan has been approved to implement workforce training in 2016.

Anne-Magriet Schoeman – Mercer Africa Talent Leader said “This study shows that the workforce of today 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.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of Mercer LLC.


Media Contact:
Anne-Magriet Schoeman
Mobile: +27 82 469 0129

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 South Africa was established in 2013 with their offices located in Centurion, Gauteng. For more information please visit

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