The ‘talent war’ shows little signs of abatement for today’s HR leaders as the global workforce struggles to equip itself for the digital age. This is further compounded by the multigenerational workforce that organisations of all sizes must now contend with.

In a recent survey of global HR leaders carried out by leading event HRD Summit, in partnership with the online community HRD Connect, the ‘talent war’ was commonly cited as the single biggest trend facing personnel leaders today, and the battle for high-performance talent was a particular challenge.

The findings also show that, to future-proof their businesses amid furious technological change, many HR leaders are striving to rebuild their company culture and tear down outdated thinking that is no longer fit for purpose.

The concept of a global struggle to capture the best and brightest is certainly nothing new; the phrase ‘war for talent’ was coined by McKinsey consultant Steven Hankin over 20 years ago, but the rise in a digital skills gap has pushed the struggle higher up the global business agenda in recent years.

In addition, a variety of cultural, technological and demographic changes have increased the pace, and the stakes, of this ongoing battle:

  • The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, which has created opportunities for a new generation of talent
  • Declining birth rates in countries such as the US, which have reduced the size of the emerging talent pool
  • The global expansion of disruptive companies such as Amazon and Uber, which are now competing directly with smaller rivals in emerging markets
  • The widespread replacement of physical bodies with automated technology, which means today’s workforce has to be more skilful than ever before.

All of these factors have created a candidates’ market, with myriad opportunities for skilled workers.

Commenting on the survey findings, Daniel Gallo, group HR director at Liverpool Football Club, said: “Talented people have choice; it’s as simple as that. We’re in a booming post-recession global economy, which brings the requirement for new jobs and new people. But then, compounding that, you have diversification, the whole concept of globalisation and the changing role of businesses with their customers, which is creating demand for whole new skillsets.”

Rachel Montgomery-Young, Portfolio Director of the HRD brand, said: “Our research shows that the talent war is far from won, and HR leaders are now tasked with creating organisations in which the generations already in work and those just entering the workforce are able to thrive, as well as ensuring that they have the right skillsets on board to meet tomorrow’s demanding digital needs. HR directors and CHROs are ideally placed to curate this new business landscape, but it’s clear that those organisations which adapt to the furious business changes we’re seeing will thrive, while the rest will fall behind.”


Every year, HRD Summit/HRD Connect surveys its network of HR leaders to produce a report on the key trends, challenges and opportunities faced by the profession. This year’s survey received 508 responses from global leaders and can be split by the following demographics:

  • Seniority: CEO (2.56%), CHRO (8.66%), VP (9.84%), Director (30.12%), Head of (25.2%), Manager (12.6%), Other (11.02%) 
  • Primary sector of organisation: Business & professional services (9.9%), Finance & accounting (7.13%), Manufacturing (7.92%), Education (3.96%), Information & tech (11.88%), Not-for-profit (3.17%), Healthcare (6.34%), Retail (5.94%), Telecomms (2.18%), Logistics & supply chain (3.17%), Public sector (2.57%), Construction (2.18%), Hospitality (2.57%), Pharmaceuticals (1.98%), Leisure & tourism (1.98%), FMCG (4.36%), Other (21.18%)
  • Organisation size – by number of employees: 1-500 (31.22%), 500-1000 (13.24%), 1001-5000 (24.31%), 5001-10,000 (7.51%), 10,000+ (23.72%)
  • Areas of primary focus/high on current people agenda: Talent (32.74%), Leadership (33.53%), Engagement (26.63%), Learning (7.1%).


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Now in its 17th year, the annual HRD Summit welcomes over 1000 HR Directors, C-Suites and business leaders alike, from global organisations, representing industries from aerospace and automotive through to real estate and retail. The summit is the ‘Davos’ of HRD events within the community, as it’s renowned for providing the perfect platform for our delegation of senior executives to join us in becoming curators of the new business landscape.

The theme of 2019’s event is ‘The Conscious Organisation’, during which we will discuss the business landscape and look beyond the financials, diving into the ecosystems and communities organisations are creating, as well as how this will evolve in the future.

Brought to you by HRD Summit, HRD Connect delivers high quality analysis, intelligence and resources for senior HR leaders.

It provides valuable insights and exclusive interviews examining the most innovative practices that help HR leaders meet the challenges they face – from corporate governance and talent management to their own career development.

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