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While Struggling with Workforce Downsizing, Companies Prepare for a ‘Resume Tsunami’, According to a New Deloitte Study

Human resources and business leaders encouraged to focus talent strategies on retention to keep key employees

NEW YORK, July 27, 2009 — In a new research report released today, Deloitte reveals that the ongoing economic downturn has added to the woes of human resources executives and top leaders who continue to struggle with talent-related issues. According to the research, while headcount reductions and other cutbacks remain prevalent, many surveyed executives are also beginning to sharpen their focus on retention and employee development initiatives so they can be prepared when the turnaround begins.

“Once the recovery begins to take hold, business executives and talent leaders can expect a ‘resume tsunami’ as voluntary turnover rises with leaders and workers with critical skills seeking new opportunities,” said Jeff Schwartz, principal, Human Capital, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The depth and quality of retention planning today will likely separate the talent winners from the talent losers tomorrow.”

The third in a series of a five-part longitudinal study, this report, “Managing Talent in a Turbulent Economy: Clearing the Hurdles to Recovery,” tracks the way surveyed business leaders are shifting their talent priorities and strategies to meet the challenges of today’s economy and how they plan to clear the hurdles to economic recovery. Some key findings from this survey include:

  • The Worst May Be Behind Us: For the first time in this longitudinal study, the number of surveyed executives who said the worst is yet to come declined – and significantly, from 32 percent in March to 18 percent in May. At the same time, the group who believes the worst is behind us doubled to 16 percent from 8 percent in March and 6 percent in January.
  • Fear of Voluntary Turnover: Nearly two-thirds of surveyed executives (65 percent) are highly or very highly concerned about losing high-potential talent in the year after the recession ends.
  • Cost Remains Top Issue: Cutting costs remains the top strategic priority, with 56 percent of surveyed executives ranking cutting and managing costs as their top strategic issue.
  • More Layoffs to Come: When asked to rank their current talent priorities, 42 percent of the executives surveyed in May put reducing employee headcount at the top of the list – slightly higher than in both March (39 percent) and January (38 percent).
  • Focus on Recruiting and Retaining Critical Talent: Despite cost-cutting measures, nearly half of executives and talent managers surveyed (47 percent) surveyed say their companies plan to recruit more critical talent to manage the current economic environment – a significant jump since March (34 percent).
  • Gen Y and Gen X Retention Most Critical: Talent managers and business executives surveyed see greater turnover potential among younger employees. Generation Y (under age 30) workers were considered most likely to be on the move, with 63% of executives predicting an increase or a significant increase in turnover among this group, followed by Generation X (ages 30-44) at 46%. Only one in four expect an increase in departures by Baby Boomers (ages 45-64) or Veterans (over age 65).

For a full copy of this research report and for the latest information about talent strategies, innovative talent and work solutions, please visit Deloitte’s Talent Management website. Deloitte will publish the results of the next edition of the global pulse survey series in Fall 2009. The report can also be found at the Forbes Insights web site.

In this third edition of Deloitte’s longitudinal study of talent trends and strategies, 319 international executives participated in a survey conducted by Forbes Insights. Survey participants were typically senior leaders in their companies, with 40% occupying the CEO, CFO, or other C-suite position. All respondents served at large organizations (all above $500 million in annual revenue, a majority with more than 5,000 employees, and 34% more than 10,000). These executives came from a mix of publicly traded, privately owned, and non-profit organizations. The survey was balanced geographically, with 37% of participants located in the Americas, 33% in Europe/the Middle East/Africa, and 30% in the Asia Pacific region, and represented a wide range of industries, including Consumer/Industrial Products (28%), Financial Services (22%), Technology/Media/Telecom (14%), Life Sciences/Health Care (10%), Energy/Utilities (9%).

These reports are part of ongoing research and Deloitte’s commitment to collaborating with business and public sector leaders to help them in their efforts to address their most pressing talent challenges. The focus of Deloitte’s integrated talent and work related services includes support for such activities as talent strategies and solutions, metrics and analytics, talent innovations such as career customization, and talent infrastructure.

About Deloitte
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Services LP, subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.


Jaime Riley
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