Companies across the emea region entered the new year, with tighter spending and risk management controls, significant workforce and management leadership challenges, fiercer competition, more government regulation and, perhaps the biggest challenge of all, lingering uncertainty about where best to invest precious capital

Companies across the EMEA region entered the New Year, with tighter spending and risk management controls, significant workforce and management leadership challenges, fiercer competition, more government regulation and, perhaps the biggest challenge of all, lingering uncertainty about where best to invest precious capital.

If 2009 proved a year the world economy would rather forget, 2010 brings measured optimism for corporate growth across Europe, The Middle East and Africa. Improved management confidence in the global economy, prospects for higher corporate earnings, and more buoyant (though still somewhat stressed) credit markets seem likely to empower the rebuild of organisational assets and plans forced to abandonment in the challenging days of what’s been called “The Great Recession.”

With this new and especially fluid business dynamic shaping business decisions from Stockholm and Tel Aviv to Moscow and Cape Town, consumers and investors alike await more signals of economic strength whilst employers still wonder whether the recession really is over. What is clear is that nearly every business in the EMEA region is leaner than it was just one year ago, and perhaps smarter for having survived a torrent of economic obstacles on the road back to future-looking business planning.

The EMEA region is poised for better days in 2010, but critical challenges remain. In the calm after the storm of a worldwide economic dislocation and one of the severest downturns, industry leaders are cautiously optimistic as they look forward to the twin promise of better economic times and growth.

Alain Tanugi, Chairman TRANSEARCH International executive search firm, feels that the new decade brings interesting challenges highlighted by the following issues:

1. Success will be defined by organisation’s ability to ‘shrink and grow’ – in other words maintaining a focus on costs, while growing talent and productivity and profitability. It will become increasingly important to target the right talent, more so than ever before.

2. The executive compensation debate is raging as the extreme volatility of 2009 exposed executive remuneration programs globally. As organisations review their executive pay structure they will seek to find a balance between shareholders interest and the organisations’ need to attract and retain top talent.

3. The need for communication and strong leadership will be substantial as business inevitably picks up and employees review their options. The ability to engage employees and managing the uncertainty will be crucial as organisations aim to mitigate turnover risk.

4. Organisations might be reducing spend, but they are prioritising human capital areas for investment. According to a recent survey the areas include: leadership development and assessment; talent management and succession planning; learning and development; and work lifestyle benefits amongst others.

Tanugi concludes: “There is no doubt 2010 is going to be an interesting year. In 2009 we saw companies scaling down with wide-scale hiring freezes, now everyone is thinking about next quarter. We will see the competition for top talent intensifying as the year goes on – sustainable growth is just not possible without the human capital and leadership to drive it!”

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