To best identify opportunities for Canadian employers, you must first understand the challenges they face. In an effort to do just that, we gathered insights, not only from some of Mercer’s thought leaders, but also from employers — globally and locally.

An all too familiar trend has surfaced — The struggle to attract, engage, and retain the right talent, in the right job, for the right price.

This is at odds with the 70% of companies who report confidence in filling their critical roles internally. More needs to be done to help employees recognize the compelling career paths that exist within their own organizations.

In Mercer’s Career Frameworks in Talent Management Survey, Canadian respondents identified the top three talent challenges their business would face in the next 12 months:


Accelerating talent strategies to execute on business objectives.


Utilizing Big Data for more effective and predictive workforce planning.


Increasing employee mobility, engagement and retention, and decreasing internal recruitment costs.

While data is beginning to play a significant role in better understanding the direct correlation of talent strategies to business outcomes and employee needs, HR leaders continue to grapple with getting the most out of the analytics opportunity. Leading organizations are building HR capacity and capability to integrate and draw meaning from multiple data streams which feed into all of the challenges listed above. A first step in fully understanding and improving your workforce is to better understand the pathways and pace in which people flow — both into and out of the organization. In the end, most of these challenges can come down to fit … but how do you find it?


The overarching challenge for employers is finding better ways to draw the most value from, properly place, and hold on to top talent, while aligning that talent to business goals. Mercer research shows that 78 percent of US and Canadian workers say they would stay with their current employer if they had a better sense of their career trajectory within the company. Employers must map out and clearly communicate career pathways so employees fully understand the opportunities before them and become more engaged. 

"The cost to replace an employee is as high as 150% annual salary."

Career frameworks strategies can help both employees and employers. Employees are given more control over their career with visibility into earning opportunities, accountabilities, and expected duration at various jobs and levels. For organizations, a career framework helps develop engaged and empowered employees, leading to a more productive workforce, and a strong pipeline of talent in roles aligned with business objectives.

Though Canadian employers are leveraging some career framework components in their talent management efforts, room for improvement remains. Most respondents admit they haven’t been using the tools effectively.  Most say they are effective at basic elements, such as job postings and descriptions, but far fewer were effective at training managers, implementing assessment tools, or building career frameworks that clarify potential career moves. 
(See Figure 1)


Percentage of Canadian organizations effectively using the following career management elements.

While managers play an important role in helping employees navigate their careers, Canadian organizations list manager expertise/tools as their top career frameworks challenge. Without the right strategy and guidance, managers often focus on the employee’s current position and perhaps one step higher, while failing to show (or know themselves) the various career opportunities, potential paths, skills and competency requirements, impact on the company, and more. 

This is a clear call to employers — the time to not only implement but effectively integrate a career framework strategy is now.

If done correctly, employers will be better positioned to:

  • Attract, retain, and engage employees by demonstrating options for growth. 
  • Translate business objectives into explicit talent requirements.
  • Strategically map the growth of critical skills.
  • Assign accountabilities to roles.
  • Unlock Big Data insights from HCM.
  • Create easier benchmarking for rewards and benefit programs.
  • Build an infrastructure to analyze, manage, and deploy talent.


The 2015 Career Frameworks in Talent Management Survey was conducted in partnership with Human Capital Media Advisory Group, the research arm of Talent Management and Workforce magazines. The survey, which includes responses from 1,785 HR professionals from more than 100 countries across more than 19 industries, examined organizations’ current practices and future plans around career frameworks.

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