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New Research Finds Lack of Readiness in First-Line Managers and Entry-Level Employees

Negative Impact of Downsizing and Reorganization Most Acutely Felt at Bottom of Corporate Ladder

Oakland, CA – February 19, 2008 – The winter edition of TalentTrends, Bersin & Associates’ quarterly analysis of key trends in corporate talent management and training, revealed a startling lack of confidence in the ability of first-line managers, sales representatives, customer support representatives, and entry-level employees to successfully execute their jobs. 

Based on a representative survey of HR executives in companies across all industry segments, this quarter’s research showed a wide variation in confidence – with top executives scoring highest when it came to perceived readiness for the job and line managers scoring lowest. 

“The pressures and stresses of downsizing and reorganization are definitely felt most acutely at the bottom of the corporate ladder,” said Josh Bersin, president of Bersin & Associates, a research and advisory firm focused on enterprise talent management and learning. “Supervisors and first-line managers are typically thrown into situations for which they’re ill prepared and required to make very difficult, often life-changing decisions about the people they manage.”

Introduced in Fall of 2008, TalentTrends follows trends in areas such as business and organizational changes, organizational priorities, staffing plans, HR and learning budgets, organizational readiness, and leadership capabilities. The publication is designed to help educate HR executives, business managers, and senior leaders about the business impact of talent-related trends and decisions. In addition to showing quarter-by-quarter comparisons, the publication also provides analysis and guidance.  

Not surprisingly, findings of the Winter 2009 survey reinforced the generally dismal state of business. The research also revealed how significantly the economy has changed HR priorities. 

  • Almost 40% of respondents said they are grappling with issues related to layoffs and downsizing, up from 17% in the Fall.
  • Creating a performance-driven culture – which entails re-engaging employees, increasing productivity, and improving performance – is the top priority for HR this quarter, with 71% of respondents citing this as urgent or important.
  • Over 60% cite cost reduction as the top business challenge this quarter, compared to 37% three months ago.

“When times are tough, it is critically important for organizations to build and develop from the bottom up,” said Bersin. “This research shows significant vulnerability in the skills and readiness of first- line managers and entry-level employees. We strongly advise HR and business leaders to focus their training, communication, and support resources on these critical audiences.”    

For a limited time, TalentTrends is available for download at no cost..

About Bersin & Associates

Bersin & Associates is the only research and advisory consulting firm focused solely on research in enterprise learning and talent management. Bersin & Associates’ WhatWorks® research and research-based services are designed to deliver actionable direction and to help improve operational effectiveness and business impact.

Bersin & Associates research members gain access to a comprehensive library of best practices, case studies, benchmarks, and in-depth market analyses designed to guide professionals in making fast and confident decisions. Research areas include planning and strategy, learning programs and delivery, talent management, technology and infrastructure, talent acquisition, and measurement and analytics. Member benefits include in-depth advisory services, webcasts, analyst visits and briefings, and strategic workshops.  More than 4,000 organizations have used Bersin & Associates’ research to guide talent and corporate learning strategies.

Bersin & Associates is the host of the only research conference on enterprise learning and talent management, IMPACT 2009: The Business of Talent®, scheduled for April 14 -16 in St. Petersburg, Florida. This year’s conference features more than 60 senior HR and learning leaders; many sessions will highlight cost-cutting strategies and ways to improve  business impact through innovative approaches.

For more information, go to or call 561 455 0622, ext. 223.