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New Research from Bersin & Associates Finds Uptick in Human Resources Spending

After two years of deep budget cuts, companies beginning to increase HR budgets and invest again in people

Oakland, CA – July 13, 2010 – Businesses in the first half of 2010 were increasingly focused on new people priorities to support innovation, engagement and first-line leadership. This is according to Bersin & Associates TalentTrends, an analysis of key trends in corporate talent management and training designed to help executives understand talent trends and provide benchmarks for investment and planning.

The latest edition of TalentTrends, based on a survey of 265 human resource, learning, and business leaders, showed that 14% of respondents indicated their budgets are increasing by 10% or more; and only 5% (down from 16% a year ago), were seeing budget cuts of 15% or more.

According to Josh Bersin, president, likely driving the spending uptick is a significant change in business drivers. While cost containment and reduction is still a top priority for most companies, accelerating innovation is a close second. Almost a quarter of respondents said that market expansion is also a high priority – up from only 16% a year ago. The survey also saw an increase in respondents whose companies are undergoing mergers and acquisitions and introducing new products and services.

“Despite painfully slow overall job growth in the U.S. in recent months, I’m encouraged by our findings,” said Josh Bersin, president. “It’s clear that business and HR leaders – particularly in financial and professional services, healthcare and hospitality -- are preparing for growth. Instead of focusing on how to rapidly restructure and lay off people, we see leaders beginning to shift attention back toward skills development, globalization, innovation and rebuilding.

“These business changes bring a new set of challenges and issues to business and HR leaders,” Bersin continued. “Now is the time to focus on and invest in programs that drive innovative thinking, collaboration, employee empowerment, and localization.”

While HR spending is on the upswing, budgets for learning and development are generally flat. Bersin asserts that available training dollars should be focused on where companies can get the “biggest bang for the buck” – in areas such as coaching, efficient knowledge sharing and collaboration, onboarding, and management training.

Of particular concern to HR leaders is the capability of first line managers, whom respondents believe are less prepared for their jobs than entry-level employees. While respondents rated the capabilities of top leaders as satisfactory, they saw significant capability gaps in line managers as well as entry-level employees and sales and customer service staff.

In view of these findings, Bersin says that onboarding and development programs for younger employees and first-line leadership development programs will become increasingly important. He adds that mentoring and internal coaching programs are excellent, low-cost ways to help both entry-level and new managers become more productive.

A complimentary copy of TalentTrends H1'2010: Trends in Talent Management and Training is available for download here: http://marketing.bersin.com/TalentTrendsH12010.html.

Bersin & Associates analysts conduct TalentWatch research by interviewing a set of senior business and human resource leaders. It is arranged in a set of 18 industry-oriented corporate talent indices to track progress over time. The detailed findings, along with analysts’ perspectives and opinions on industry-specific talent trends that affect business decision-making, are available to Bersin & Associates research members. For more information on membership, contact info@bersin.com.

About Bersin & Associates

Bersin & Associates is the only research and advisory firm focused solely on research in enterprise learning, talent management, and talent acquisition. The company’s WhatWorks® membership program offers actionable guidance, improves operational effectiveness, and delivers business impact to companies in all industry segments.

Bersin & Associates research members gain access to a comprehensive library of best practices, case studies, benchmarks, and in-depth market analyses and research-based services designed to assist professionals in making fast and confident decisions. Members also have direct access to analysts and a wide range of tested tools and models to address both strategic and day-to-day challenges. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide have used Bersin & Associates’ research and advisory services to guide talent and corporate learning strategies. Research areas include planning and strategy, learning programs and delivery, talent management, leadership development and succession planning, talent acquisition, technology and infrastructure, informal learning, social networking, measurement and analytics.

For more information, go to www.bersin.com or call 561 455 0622.