C-Suite Community Pulse on Talent Strategy

October 2023

2023 began with high inflation, economic uncertainty, and layoffs in the technology sector, plus the need for organizational decisions about returning to the office and introducing generative AI tools. In an environment of near-constant disruption, we wondered what it might mean for executives and the talent strategy at their organizations.

We asked C-level executives how disruption – economic and otherwise – is impacting their workforce and their ability to recruit and retain employees. Here is what more than 1,100 leaders told us about their need for skilled workers and evolving talent strategies.

Are Skilled Roles Hard to Fill?

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

Is Recruiting a Challenge?

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

Is Retention a Challenge?

Executives feel slightly better about their ability to retain skilled workers, with 67% saying it’s somewhat challenging, but only 17% saying it’s very challenging. Sixteen percent think that retention is not challenging at present.

What’s Impacting the Strategy?

When asked what they believe is impacting their ability to recruit and retain employees, 31% cited the need for specific skills, and 26% attribute it to a lack of resources. Another 22% felt that their organization’s workplace policies, such as returning to the office, were a factor. 

In comments under “Other,” executives wrote that “global location strategy,” “location of the office,” and “only targeting specific geographic regions” were some factors affecting their talent strategies.

What Are the Focus Areas?

To fulfill their talent needs, C-level executives are focused on multiple strategies, with 21% reporting a focus on upskilling or reskilling, 20% on retaining key roles, and 16% on quiet hiring or internal promotions. Interestingly, the top three strategies are focused on internal or current employees. 

In the comments, executives added that they were “hiring junior people based on potential rather than expertise” and “hiring on attitude and aptitude, not skills – they can be taught.”

Can They Upskill the Workforce?

51% of executives feel at least somewhat confident in their organizations’ ability to upskill or reskill the workforce to meet demand. Nine percent are very confident, but a quarter of executives – 26% – remain neutral in evaluating their organization on this topic. It’s possible that upskilling efforts are relatively new, but interestingly, only 2% of leaders say that their company does not have a strategy in place to upskill workers.

What Are Executives’ Forward-Looking Talent Strategies?

In the past few years, we surveyed Evanta community members on nearly every disruption to their workforce and talent management, from The Great Resignation and Race for Talent to economic uncertainty and generative AI. Each phase has impacted their ability to recruit and retain employees in some way.

In this environment, we asked what their forward-looking approach is to talent. Here is a sample of their responses:

Getting better at highlighting our purpose. Hiring remote, highly skilled people. Building hubs to allow people to gather on an as-needed basis.”

Big focus on retention... This includes a focus on rightsizing compensation, engaging workplace culture, accessibility and understanding of learning and development opportunities.”

Attracting talent through a differentiated EVP, a willingness to engage with talent where they live and investing in people to support their time with us and beyond.”

Balance is key – from remote to onsite; contract vs. full time; internal vs. external knowledge.  All play a part in a healthy talent pool as we think towards the future.”

If you are a C-level executive navigating the evolving talent landscape, apply to join an Evanta community or explore an opportunity to collaborate with your peers.


Based on 1,103 responses to Evanta’s Community Pulse Survey, October 2023.