Quick Study: Freezing Months for Talent Management; Green Investments; Blind Eye Turned to Corporate Misconduct

*It's a People Business, ?But...: Despite the tough economy and widespread layoffs, recruiting and retaining top talent remains a top concern for employers, according to a survey released by Robert Half International. Among the findings:

  • When asked about their top staffing concern, 39% of respondents cited retention;

  • 22% said recruitment;

  • 17% said productivity; and,

  • 17% said staff morale.

The communications implication: Business is still about people, and organizations are only as strong as their weakest employee. When money is tight, the best strategy is to embrace nontraditional recruitment techniques and creative fringe benefits--two things the modern communications executive is well equipped to drive.

But another survey released by Watson Wyatt paints a dismal picture in the context of HR and hiring, revealing that the number of companies implementing cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, hiring and salary freezes and smaller pay raises, has risen sharply in just two months. Included in the findings:

  • More than one in five surveyed companies (23%) planned to make layoffs in the next 12 months, and almost two in five (39%) had already done so--a sharp increase from only 19% of companies that had done so in October;

  • The number of companies with hiring freezes jumped from 30% in October to 47% in December, with an additional 18% planning a hiring freeze in the next 12 months;

  • The number of companies that have already implemented salary freezes jumped from 4% in October to 13% in early December;

  • Those companies that have already made or are planning to make layoffs indicated that this strategy would affect approximately 5% of their employee population; and,

  • 61% of employers reduced their planned merit increase for next year from 3.8% to 2.5%.

Source: Robert Half International and Watson Wyatt

*Investors Still Seeing Green: Even while citing a down economy and concerns about the Earth's ecosystem, business owners continue to be optimistic about giving to environmental causes, according to a survey released by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management. Notable findings include:

  • 59% of those surveyed believed that a green investment would generate a rate of return similar to any other fund;

  • 45% agreed that a motivating factor in green investing is business owners' belief that the Earth's environment is slowly deteriorating;

  • Nearly half said their company had an official green policy that included recycling, energy saving plans and other measures;

  • 88% lent financial support only to environmental organizations they have researched thoroughly; and,

  • 72% gave only to environmental organizations that are "well established."

Source: SunTrust Bank

*Desperation Drives Corporate Malfeasance: A study from KPMG LLP found that pressure to do "whatever it takes" to achieve business goals continues as the primary driver behind corporate fraud and misconduct, regardless of this malfeasance's impact on public trust. Among the findings:

  • 74% of surveyed employees said they had personally observed misconduct within their organizations during the prior 12 months;

  • 46% reported that what they observed "could cause a significant loss of public trust if discovered";

  • 72% of those whose companies had no formal ethics and compliance program reported having observed misconduct during the previous year; meanwhile, at companies with ethics and compliance programs, 55% of respondents reported witnessing wrongful activity;

  • Among those to whom respondents said they would be comfortable reporting misconduct are local managers (61%), peers (57%), HR (57%), hotline (57%), legal department (52%), senior executives (43%), internal audit (40%) and board members (32%);

  • While 89% of the survey respondents said they would be "doing the right thing" to report an incident, some 34% suggested a lack of confidence that appropriate action would be taken; and,

  • Only 47% believed those involved would be appropriately disciplined, no matter their position.

Source: KPMG LLP