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Managing talent in a turbulent economy

This survey was conducted for Deloitte by Forbes Insights. It presents the ways top executives and talent managers in industries worldwide are adjusting their work forces to navigate a course through the rough waters of today's turbulent economy. The study also examines how strategic priorities and talent tactics have changed over the first quarter of 2009. Key findings are as follows:

• Senior executives report they expect significant challenges to persist in the broader economy, and few believe the worst is behind us.

• Surveyed executives are focused sharply on cost cutting, including layoffs and other austerity measures. Efforts to align company costs with today's economic realities are now crowding out plans to keep and expand the customer.

• Reducing employee headcount remains the top talent priority and, over the last quarter, surveyed talent managers have shifted the criteria being used to determine work force reductions. As layoffs get deeper and more difficult, even employees with critical skills filling key roles are at risk of losing their jobs.

• While layoffs and other belt-tightening measures dominate executive attention, surveyed corporate managers still recognize the need to retain and train key talent. Layoff survivors can expect to feel the impact of the difficult economy through lower compensation and benefit levels.

• With governments taking a higher-profile role in business, the intersection of talent and risk management and regulatory compliance has emerged as an area of rising concern for surveyed business leaders and HR executives.

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