Talent management

Talent management is regarded as necessary by many organisations to attract, select, develop and retain high‑potential or high-performing employees as part of their business strategy.

The Boston Consulting Group, for instance, regularly ranks talent management as a key priority for executives in terms of future importance in its study of people management capabilities.7,8 Its research showed that high-performing companies were more likely to have a dedicated talent management unit and that top executives invested more time in reviewing and sourcing talent. Ernst & Young suggests that talent management is central to improving public sector productivity, stressing that the public sector needs to understand current skills and identify and measure skills gaps to ensure it attracts and retains the right people.9

Many talent programs focus on specific groups such as leaders, graduates and critical roles or teams. When used for existing employees, talent assessment can be applied to all employees in a select group, not just those identified as high-performing or high-potential workers, with development options tailored to differing needs.

Progress in talent management

NSW public sector agencies increasingly see talent management as a necessary part of their workforce management practices.

The inaugural Agency survey shows 40% of agencies have a talent management plan at some stage of implementation for identifying, developing and retaining high-performing or high-potential employees (see Figure 3). This is a relatively new concept in the NSW public sector, reflected in the results that show that many (32%) of these agencies are at a basic stage of use while only 8% of agencies described their plans as developed or highly developed.

Agencies with more than 10,000 employees were the most likely group (by size) to have implemented a documented talent management plan, with seven out of 10 agencies reporting they had done so and three of these agencies reporting their level of maturity as developed or highly developed.

Figure 3: Talent management plans implemented by agencies

Figure 3 is a cube graph showing overall agency responses to the statement 'to what extent does your agency have a documented talent management plan for identifying, developing and retaining high-performing or high-potential employees'. Key results are provided in the text above figure 3, with additional results showing 51% recognised and 9% not recognised.

The survey also showed that agencies were most likely to have actively identified senior managers (31%) and managers (31%) as high-performing or high-potential employees compared to other employee groups (22%) or graduates (15%). The focus on the management level is consistent with talent management principles that emphasise the need for succession planning and growing the leadership pipeline. At the same time, graduate programs continue to be an important way of attracting new talent to the sector.

It is also notable that the majority of agencies (57%) are incorporating talent management and succession planning for future leadership roles into their workforce planning processes. A further 40% of agencies recognise the importance of this practice and are working towards its implementation.


7. Strack et al (2013), Creating people advantage 2013 – Lifting HR practices to the next level

8. Strack et al (2011), Creating people advantage 2011 – Time to Act: HR certainties in uncertain times

9. Ernst & Young (2012), Driving public sector productivity: Closing the $2.4 billion public sector productivity gap

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