Monday, September 27, 2004

Agility survey finds stumbles


80% say their companies are wasting talent

By John Eckberg
Enquirer staff writer

Productivity may be up by 2.9 percent over last year, but eight of 10 executives say their company cannot take advantage of their work force's potential because of miscommunication, transient employees and fuzzy corporate goals, claims a new report from Cincinnati-based Convergys.

The 2004 Workforce Agility survey of 300 senior executives at companies with more than $1 billion in revenues found that a flexible and experienced work force could bring increased market share. But few companies and executives know how to overcome organizational obstacles.

"One of the surprising take-aways is aligning the work force with corporate goals," said Marc Pramuk, Convergys principal for business intelligence.

"Even between financial and human resources executives there were at times significant discrepancies on important issues. It's somewhat ironic that a key focus is to align goals with the work force, but there was a disconnect at the senior level."

The report was based on interviews with mid-level and top human resources executives at U.S. and European companies between March and August.

Companies were industry leaders drawn from a Fortune Most Admired Companies list. Most employed more than 13,000 people.

The University of Michigan Business School and Saratoga, a PricewaterhouseCoopers division, conducted the research.

Most companies have trouble retaining talent, don't have systems in place to identify talent and are not providing training to help their high-flyers.

"The reality is many companies have the data, but it's not actionable," Pramuk said.

If the manager moves on to another company, successors are not always willing to sort through hand-written files to find out who was the best performer.

"Information is scattered through most organizations," Pramuk said.

Even companies known for efficient operations estimate that they are overspending by at least 10 percent on their work force and have employees underperforming by 10 percent.

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E-mail jeckberg@enquirer.com




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