Nearly two-thirds (65%) of companies are facing problems attracting employees with the critical skills needed to help them recover from the economic crisis, according to an international survey by Towers Watson.
The Towers Watson 2010 Global Management and Rewards study, in conjunction with US HR consultancy WorldatWork, found that, alongside problems in recruiting talented staff, nearly half (49%) of companies struggled to retain their highly skilled workers.
Additionally, many businesses reported problems attracting top-performing (61%) and high-potential (56%) workers, but just 25% had problems recruiting employees in general.
Carole Hathaway, senior consultant at Towers Watson, said that the business climate had clearly affected companies' ability to attract and re-motivate top-performing employees, partly because these key people are in no rush to seek employment elsewhere given the uncertainty over economic recovery.
"These are the very people most likely to leave should a better offer come along," she said. "Many employers have also underestimated the impact of pensions, job security and flexible working arrangements on employees' decisions on whether or not to leave their organisation."
More than half of companies believe that their cost-cutting measures, such as hiring freezes, salary freezes and redundancies, have had an adverse impact on overall employee engagement.
However, employers have begun to put in place measures to counteract this. Three in five European businesses surveyed said that they are addressing employee engagement problems by ensuring the readiness of talent for critical roles, 56% were creating more movement, rotation and development opportunities and 53% were increasing investment in building the "internal pipeline of talent".
The survey, conducted in May and June 2010, includes responses from 1,176 companies from 23 countries.