Despite a volatile economy and high unemployment, almost 60% of North American companies are having trouble attracting critical-skill employees, an increase over 2010. In addition, organizations will continue to face strong pressure to manage costs in the coming year as they experience slow growth in productivity and sales.

These are some of the top findings of the 2011/2012 Towers Watson North American Talent Management and Rewards Survey, conducted in early summer 2011. Findings also showed that a majority of employers are responding to the economy by expecting employees to work longer hours than before the recession and sharply decreasing the rate of increase of merit budgets.

This year's report focuses on trends in reward and talent management programs, accompanied by our related insights to drive effective design and delivery. And the critical insight from this year's study is one of sustainability and three talent imperatives. To get ahead, organizations should go beyond articulating and documenting their employee value proposition and total rewards strategy. To significantly improve their human capital risk management and increase the ROI, organizations can rely on three guiding principles — integration, segmentation and agility — to fundamentally transform their reward and talent management model.

We encourage you to consider these concepts in the broader context of your organization’s employee value proposition (EVP) and total rewards strategy.