Accenture Survey Shows “War For Talent” Continues, Layoffs Ending In 2002

Leadership And Management Skills Lead Senior Executives’ Wish Lists

NEW YORK; March 12, 2002 Despite widespread workforce reductions in the United States during the last several months, the “war for talent” continues, with leadership and management leading senior executives’ lists of the most-sought-after skills for 2002. These are among the key findings in a survey of FORTUNE 1000 companies released today by Accenture, the world’s leading management and technology services organization.

According to the survey, 73 percent of senior executives said the “war for talent” continues, 24 percent said they believed it was temporarily on hold and 3 percent said the talent crunch was past. When asked to identify the most critical skills that would enable their employees to do their jobs better in the future, the survey respondents overwhelmingly reported that leadership and management skills (49 percent) were at the top of the list for 2002, while technology skills ranked third (22 percent).

In addition, the trend toward workforce reductions appears to be ending, with nearly 70 percent of respondents reporting that their workforces would remain at current levels, or would have modest increases. The majority of hiring is expected to begin in the first and third quarters, with 52 percent saying they expected to hire in the first quarter, and 23 percent in the third quarter.

“The continued competition for top talent indicates that companies and employees are under increasing pressure to do more with less,” said Ed Jensen, partner in Accenture’s Human Performance Service Line. “The demand for leadership and management skills in 2002 clearly reiterates the fact that people-related issues are a strategic priority for successful companies.

“It is interesting to note that in the aftermath of the Internet economy collapse, hiring, developing and retaining good managers with relevant work experience will be crucial for businesses in 2002 and beyond,” Mr. Jensen added. “The success of an organization today is very much dependent on the quality and skills of its management and talent. This is good news for mid-level management, who were adversely impacted by the dot-com fallout.”

The survey, conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide, the global research firm, also indicated that companies have a lot of work to do in the areas of knowledge management, training and collaboration. On average, executives reported that one in five employees did not have access to all the information they needed to do their jobs well, and 35 percent said their employees did not understand the corporate strategy. Additionally, survey participants said that 31 percent of their employees were not able to collaborate effectively across team and organizational boundaries.

Nearly half (48 percent) of executives said there had been an increase in eLearning/web-based learning with the reduction in business travel since September 11, 2001. The use of video conferencing and online communications also increased over the same time period. In planning for the future, executives said that one in five employees did not have the right skills to meet their organization’s business objectives. Executives said they planned to engage in a combination of initiatives, including retraining current staff (78 percent), restructuring roles and responsibilities (88 percent) and outsourcing needed capabilities and skills (56 percent).

“Helping employees to work smarter and be innovative represents a key competitive advantage for businesses,” Mr. Jensen said. “We are seeing a growing interest by companies in transforming the performance and culture of their mission-critical workforces – those that have an impact on a company’s bottom line. To do this, some companies are realizing the benefits of eLearning, which enables employees to learn, work and collaborate virtually while managing costs. In addition, the trend toward outsourcing provides access to the right talent for specific roles, allowing organizations to focus on their core capabilities while reducing costs and improving service quality.”

The survey findings also included some positive news for the travel industry: 81 percent of corporate executives said they believed that business travel would increase in 2002. Only 17 percent said the reductions in travel were permanent.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach -- in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities -- Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is

Survey Methodology
The Accenture / Wirthlin Worldwide survey findings are consistent among all senior executives, regardless of company size, region and sector. Results are based on interviews with 150 senior executives from FORTUNE 1000 companies conducted between December 3, 2001 and January 22, 2002.

Wirthlin Worldwide ( ) is a leading full-service global opinion research and strategic consulting firm that provides services for a broad range of public and private sector clients, including two-thirds of Fortune 100 companies.


Anne Barlow

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