A look at current trends and data

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 18 April 2008



Nolan, S. (2008), "A look at current trends and data", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 7 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/shr.2008.37207caf.005



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

A look at current trends and data

Article Type: Research and results From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 7, Issue 3.

Sara Nolan

Corporate reputation is a key weapon in the battle for talent

Three-quarters of top-tier MBA students say corporate reputation will play a critical role in deciding where to work. This is according to Hill & Knowlton’s eighth annual Corporate Reputation Watch, a global study of the effect of corporate reputation on recruitment among MBA students in the US, Europe and Asia. The findings also show that certain industries and locations are losing the “reputational battle” in the global war for talent.

In examining MBA students’ career aspirations, the study shows that the reputations of key emerging markets Russia, Eastern Europe, Middle East and South Asia discourage the best talent from working there. The same applies for multi-billion dollar industries such as alcohol, chemicals and tobacco, with more than double the number of MBA students not interested in working in them than those who are. The pharmaceutical industry and oil and gas industries also are in the situation where their reputations put off slightly more students than they attract.

Andrew Laurence, chairman and CEO, Hill & Knowlton EMEA, comments:

MBAs graduating in a post-Enron, post-Parmalat world have a strong preference for the companies with the best reputations. It is clear that recruiters of top talent will need to offer more than just generous compensation and ample opportunity. The leaders of tomorrow are overwhelmingly seeking to associate themselves with industries, and specifically companies, with great reputations. Those with inferior reputations will find it very difficult and expensive to attract and retain the best and the brightest.

What matters most to MBA students?

The study confirms the importance of reputation with almost three quarters (73 percent) of MBA students stating that corporate reputation plays an extremely or very important role when considering where to work after completing their MBA, with only one fifth (20 percent) saying it is fairly important and only four percent saying that reputation is not important.

When asked what factors drive career choice, the factors listed by MBA students can be categorized into three tiers see Table I. The top tier is all about people and the position employment career opportunities, corporate culture and working environment, employee compensation and benefits package, and employee satisfaction. In the second tier come some of the basic issues about performance and products, while the third tier covers the messages that the company communicates about its ethics and social and environmental responsibility its broader brand and values agenda.

Table I Factors driving career choices of MBA students

For more information

“Corporate reputation watch reputation and the war for talent” is available from www.hillandknowlton.com/crw

Marked difference in career profiles of top execs in the US and UK

The latest “Route to the top” research report conducted by Dr Elisabeth Marx, a partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, compares the top executives in the US and UK and finds a marked difference in career profiles. Marx has surveyed the CEOs of London’s FTSE 100 companies for eleven years, but in her 2007 report she extended her analysis to include Fortune 100 companies in the US. Following are some of her findings:

  • International experience. Despite the global nature of most Fortune 100 companies, only 33 percent of CEOs have international experience, as defined by living and working for at least one year in another country. This contrasts with more than twice as many FTSE 100 CEOs who have international experience (67 percent). The vast majority of Fortune 100 CEOs are American (only 10 percent have a foreign nationality), while the UK shows a much higher diversity in terms of nationality, with 32 percent of FTSE 100 companies run by foreign CEOs.

  • Youth versus wisdom. The UK nurtures young talent, while the US rewards wisdom. The average Fortune 100 CEO is 58 years old, compared to an average age of 52 for their FTSE 100 counterparts. Only 6 percent of Fortune 100 CEOs are aged 50 and under, compared to 42 percent of FTSE 100 CEOs.

  • Succession planning. The US is better at succession planning, with Fortune 100 CEOs more likely to rise to the top job through an internal route, with 86 percent being internally promoted, compared to their FTSE 100 counterparts (66 percent). This suggests that the internal grooming of executives and succession planning is taken more seriously in the US.

  • Gender gap. Despite the long-standing progress in equal gender opportunities in the US, there are only two female CEOs in the current Fortune 100 companies; this is compared to three female CEOs in the FTSE 100 group (two of whom are Americans).

  • Fortune CEOs study more. Fortune 100 CEOs are more likely to have advanced university degrees, whether a Masters, PhD or MBA 59 percent compared to 45 percent in the UK.

For more information

For more information visit www.heidrick.com

Effective communication linked to high returns

A new study from global consulting firm Watson Wyatt, the “2007/2008 Communication ROI study”, identifies six communication practices that distinguish high-performing companies from their competitors. The study found that companies with the most effective communication programs had a 47 percent higher total return to shareholders from 2002 to 2006, compared with companies that communicate least effectively. It also found that those companies are four times as likely to report high levels of employee engagement as companies that communicate least effectively.

The study identified the following six practices of high-performing companies:

  1. 1.

    focusing managers and other employees on customer needs;

  2. 2.

    engaging employees in running the business;

  3. 3.

    helping managers communicate effectively;

  4. 4.

    leveraging the talents of internal communicators to manage change effectively;

  5. 5.

    measuring the impact of employee communication; and

  6. 6.

    branding the employee experience.

Kathryn Yates, global director of communication consulting at Watson Wyatt, comments on the results:

Top-performing companies treat communication as a key business driver. They use communication to educate managers and engage employees in the business by providing line-of-sight to customers’ needs and business goals. Furthermore, by gaining insight into what top-performing companies are doing, employers can reorient their communication programs, brand their employee experience and make a difference in their business results.

Other significant trends identified include:

  • More companies are communicating directly with employees on how their actions affect the customer. The percentage of companies consistently providing such feedback increased from 21 percent in 2003 to 39 percent in 2007.

  • Fewer than one in five respondents let employees weigh in on decisions that affect them top financial performers are 10 times more likely to invite employee feedback.

  • The percentage of companies treating managers as a distinct and important audience for advance communication increased 7.5 percent with the top financial performers 50 percent more likely as others to provide such information.

For more information

The “2007/2008 Communication ROI study” is based on responses from 264 companies. More information on the study is available at www.watsonwyatt.com

Companies hiding behind email communications

The 13th annual “Attitudes in the American Workplace” poll conducted by Harris Interactive for The Marlin Company, a specialist in workplace communication, shows that some companies have used email to fire or lay off people and that a minority of bosses is hiding behind electronic communications.

When asked if their company ever used email to fire or lay off employees, 10 percent said yes, 79 percent said no and 12 percent was unsure. When asked if their bosses use emails to avoid difficult face-to-face conversations, 17 percent answered yes, 76 percent said no and 7 percent was unsure. The following findings were also revealed:

  • Five percent of respondents had received an email that humiliated them and had been copied to other individuals; ninety-four percent had not.

  • Twenty-three percent had received a politically incorrect email; seventy-six percent had not; one percent was not sure.

  • Fifteen percent had received an email sent in anger; eighty-four percent had not; one percent wasn’t sure.

  • Thirteen percent had received an email that was flirtatious; eighty-seven percent had not.

  • Nineteen percent had received an email that was sent to the wrong person; seventy-nine percent had not; one percent wasn’t sure.

  • Thirty-eight percent had received an email where the recipient had forgotten to include an attachment; sixty-one percent had not; two percent wasn’t sure.

For more information

This “Attitudes in the American Workplace” study was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Marlin Company between May 21 and June 14, 2007 among 752 US adults aged 18 or older who are employed full or part-time. For more information visit www.themarlincompany.com

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