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Global businesses are seeking new ways to develop talent and demanding more from their change programs: Deloitte survey


4 July 2013: Close to ninety per cent of global business leaders and human resources (HR) executives are building new ways to develop talent, as traditional leadership models are not keeping pace with today's rapidly changing work environment, according to the Deloitte ‘Resetting Horizons: Human Capital Trends 2013’ report.

“The ‘war for talent’ is shifting to the ‘war to develop talent’,” said Nicky Wakefield, Deloitte Australia’s Human Capital Leader.

The global survey of more than 1,300 organisations in 59 countries, including Australia, outlines a series of trends that are driving critical business and human capital decisions. Launched in Australia by Deloitte Global Human Capital Leader, Brett Walsh, and Deloitte Australia’s Nicky Wakefield, the global report explores new approaches in HR.

The war to develop talent – Australia’s number one trend – is defined by the fact that businesses are struggling to fill critical positions at many levels and build new capabilities in a model of continual learning that focuses on changing the culture to enable an individual to succeed at a number of tasks, challenges and roles, many of which are not even apparent today.

“As organisations struggle to fill talent gaps, they have also raised the bar on talent development,” said Wakefield. “Employees are seeking demanding, engaging and meaningful work, and employers are looking for ways to fill positions internally – including leadership and executive roles – as well as manage escalating turnover costs.”

Eighty per cent of business leaders and HR executives surveyed in Australia are also demanding more from their change initiatives.

Deloitte global Human Capital leader Brett Walsh said: “As organisations face tougher and more numerous business challenges, they are abandoning their old change management toolkits in favour of culture change initiatives that are highly tailored and intensely focused on precise business goals.

“The most successful organisations are rigorously measuring these initiatives with smart analytics.

“As executives feel the pressure of compressed time frames – driven by a 24/7 world – and dogged by John Kotter's1 still valid finding that only 30 per cent of change programs succeed, they have to demand more.

“For the first time we have access to powerful analytic tools and ‘big data’ that can bring a precision and rigour to the change process that we have not seen until now,” Walsh said. “We are seeing a shift in both talent development and change initiatives from the ‘art’ of change and learning, towards a ‘science’ of culture change.”

Key findings of the global report include:

  • Faced with numerous challenges, 87% of business leaders expect organisations to demand more from their change initiatives by pursuing customised strategies
  • To seize new growth opportunities, 82% of business leaders say boards are involving HR executives much earlier in the strategy planning process
  • Skill gaps and economic uncertainty are leading organisations to shift from recruitment to development
  • Organisations are continuing to prioritise areas such as talent, emerging markets and the HR organisation.

There was a shared consensus among all survey respondents that five of the 13 trends identified in the study would become the top priorities for the business and talent leaders in the coming years.

“This is a significant finding in the study because the common view is that talent needs and practices vary from country to country. The fact that the results show that the top five trends are shared across all of the major economies is surprising. This demonstrates the increasingly global focus of organisations,” Walsh said.

The top five key trends outlined in the report are: the war to develop talent; accelerating organisational change; transforming HR to meet new business priorities; next generation leadership; and boards are changing the HR game.

“The survey results show that the human capital agenda is shifting to focus on global growth as businesses come out of the recession. Economic uncertainty is still part of the business landscape. But instead of merely reacting to change, organisations are harnessing it and turning it into a business advantage. They recognise that, in a world that is changing rapidly, it is sensible to be in a position to pre-empt and act on the next trend,” said Wakefield.

The Australian and global reports are available on the Global Human Capital Trends 2013 page.

NB: See our media releases and research at Deloitte Australia website.

1. Kotter. J., “Leading Change: Why transformation efforts fail,” Harvard Business Review, 1995


David Brown
Deloitte Consulting
Job Title:
Human Capital Leader
Tel: +61 2 9322 7481
Louise Denver
Job Title:
Director, Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: + 61 2 9322 7615, +61 414 889 857

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