Leaders have acknowledged talent is the biggest competitive advantage companies have, and many are pushing talent management higher up on their agenda.

Mercer’s Talent Barometer, which was launched by CEO Julio Portalatin at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, found 60% of global organisations have increased their investment in talent in recent years, with 31% indicating they have plans in place to address talent needs for the next 12 months.

However, 62% of global leaders believe the perceived effectiveness of their organisation’s workforce plan in meeting immediate and long-term human capital needs are only “somewhat” effective, with a quarter deeming it either “extremely” or “very” effective.

The survey of HR and talent management executives from 1,268 organisations in 65 countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, also found many organisations realise the shortage of critical skills can be mitigated by engaging talent early on.

Therefore, 37% of companies are partnering with tertiary education institutions and 17% with vocational or trade schools. Companies are also most likely to recruit to a very large extent through internships (37%) or job fares (36%).

Aside from education, leaders also identified employee health and wellness and career experience as critical stepping stones to accelerate workforce planning efficiency.

Around half of respondents said their organisation has already embarked on basic health education and risk screening programmes from employees, while a third are delivering awareness, health assessments, and disease management programmes.

A majority of respondents (80%) also conduct either annual or biannual talent reviews, with 39% having an extensive succession plan in place.

With two thirds of respondents reporting their organisation’s senior management consider HR to have strong strategic importance, and more than half of companies having a chief learning officer or head of talent, global organisations look to be committed to their talent investment over the next few years.