4 Highlights from our C-Level Survey on Talent Strategy

Community Blog
Written by Clare Ryan

NOVEMBER 7, 2023

At the start of 2023, business leaders were focused on the uncertain economic outlook, high inflation, and potentially the need to do more with less and still achieve growth. As the year went on, ChatGPT and generative AI took the business world by storm. Then came return-to-office policies and what those might mean for the world of work. All of these have been hot topics with C-level executives across Evanta communities. 

Flying a little bit under the radar? The topic of talent. We have heard about it from executives in pockets – it’s certainly difficult to keep up with the demand for data and analytics roles, especially now that AI is on the radar, and it’s always a challenge to keep the pipeline full of technology and security talent. 

After big worker shifts like the Great Resignation and the Race for Talent, we wondered how executives were currently approaching the challenge of finding and keeping skilled workers. We asked more than 1,100 C-level executives in our communities about their talent strategies now and moving forward into the new year.

Here are 4 highlights from the results of our survey.

1. Skilled Roles Are Harder to Fill

Nearly half, or 49% of C-level executives, report that the skilled roles in their organizations seem harder to fill than in years past. Thirty-four percent say that it’s about the same as prior years, and 17% believe it’s not harder to fill roles currently.

2. Recruiting vs. Retention

59% of executives report that recruiting is “somewhat challenging,” and another 36% note that it’s “very challenging.” Only 5% of respondents say that recruiting skilled workers is not challenging for their organization right now. 

Executives seem a bit less challenged by retention, with 67% saying it’s somewhat challenging, but a much smaller percentage – 17% – saying it’s very challenging. Sixteen percent think that retention is not challenging at present.

3. A Key Focus Area: Upskilling

C-level executives say that multiple strategies will help their organization fulfill the open roles for skilled workers, with 21% reporting that they are upskilling or reskilling current employees. A focus on retention of key roles was cited by 20% of respondents, and quiet hiring or internal promotions was selected by 16%. It’s interesting to note that their top three strategies are focused on internal or current employees, rather than on recruiting or external factors.

Fortunately, since this is a key part of their strategy, 60% of executives say they are either somewhat confident or very confident in their organization’s ability to upskill workers. Only 2% report that their company does not have a strategy in place to upskill or reskill the workforce.

In the comments about other talent strategies, executives noted that they were focusing on “early career talent with the aptitude to acquire higher skills,” and “eagerness with a demonstrated ability to learn.” Another leader said they were “looking truly globally, not just where we have traditionally looked.”

4. What’s Impacting Talent Strategy

When we asked executives what they think is impacting their ability to find and retain employees, 31% said it is the need for specific skills, such as in cybersecurity or data. Twenty-six percent attribute it to a lack of resources devoted to it, and 22% felt that their organization’s workplace policies, such as returning to the office, were a factor. 

The comments under “Other” factors affecting talent strategy were wide-ranging, including “competitors paying a lot more,” “cost of living,” “density of like companies,” and “new rules about return to work.”

Forward-Looking Talent Strategies

We also left one survey question completely open-ended for executives to comment on their forward-looking talent strategy and whether or not it had changed over the past few years of constant change and disruption in the business world. 

Here is a sample of their thoughts on talent strategy:

Balance talent needs with external service providers. Favor early-career talent that is energetic and capable, as this may afford us a longer tenure with those people and allow us to shape the talent to our needs.”

Branding and marketing of our organization and the new technology we use for solving complex problems. Ensuring we have flexibility in how we work (remote-working, working hours, etc.).”

Continue to focus on retaining current, high-functioning staff and adapting to meet the needs that they have. Looking outside of the normal channels to find talent and being flexible in work arrangements.”

Be authentic, clear, and present with your people. Do everything you can to show them the higher purpose they are working for. Be seen as their advocate. Show you care by tracking their progress and talking to them about their importance to the organization.”

If you find insights like this from C-level executives valuable, find an Evanta community near you and apply to join. We are kicking off our busy fall season of executive programs, so you can also explore an upcoming opportunity to get together and collaborate with your C-level peers.

Clare Ryan headshot

Clare Ryan

MVP, Conferences at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CHROs, for CHROs

Find your local community and explore the benefits of becoming a member.