- IMD Business School
News Stories · Competitiveness - Talent Management

Executives perceive remote working as hampering career development, but that's at odds with retaining talent, WCC ranking finds

For the 10th year running, Switzerland has topped a 64-strong list of economies spread over eight regions, in the IMD World Talent Ranking 2023 (WTR).
September 2023

The Alpine nation’s quality of life, statutory minimum wage and primary and secondary education systems were unbeatable. Luxembourg was second, and Iceland third.

A major finding in the ranking was that remote and hybrid work is affecting career progression in the eyes of many: 27% of the 4,000 executives questioned in a survey that fed into the results said they felt that remote work was detrimental to career development in their company.

However, those economies in which remote work is considered less harmful for career development are, on average, also those that prioritize the attraction and retention of highly skilled professionals as well as in the levels of female participation in the job market: two important components of talent competitiveness.

The researchers at the WCC wrote in the WTR’s report about the pandemic-induced shift toward remote or hybrid models. They said they thought the reason why executives could perceive these models to damage the career progression of individuals who opted for them in search of a greater work-life balance could stem from a “proximity bias among managers”, seeing them favor those individuals who follow the traditional in-office work model.

“If new work models lead to the curtailment of the opportunities that organizations offer to their staff, organizations’ capacity to attract and retain talent may be limited. Such a trend can restrict talent development, and ultimately talent competitiveness, by negatively affecting some of the core elements of competitiveness,” they wrote.

The results also show the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the talent competitiveness landscape. While regions such as Western Europe, North America, and Ex-CIS and Central Asia have mostly recovered their pre-pandemic talent competitiveness levels, Eastern Asia, South America, and Southern Asia and the Pacific still display lower talent competitiveness in 2023 than in 2019.

The 2023 WTR studied 64 economies – including Kuwait for the first time – by quantifying 31 criteria that involve both hard data and survey responses from executives. Each criterion was then organized into three factors: Investment and Development, which considers the domestic resources committed to cultivating homegrown talent; Appeal, which evaluates the ability to attract and retain talent from both international and domestic markets; and Readiness, which quantifies the quality of the available skills and competencies in the talent pool.

IMD is a pioneer in the study of global talent competitiveness and the results of the WTR, together with those of the Center’s competitiveness, digital competitiveness, sustainable trade, and smart city rankings are used by policymakers around the world in the public and private sectors alike.