Businesses are overlooking a critical investment area that will only continue to grow more important over the next several decades, according to Bonin Bough, host of CNBC's "Cleveland Hustles" and the former chief media and e-commerce officer at Mondelez International.
"Talent will be the single biggest determinant of growth for an organization by 2030 — bigger than data, bigger than infrastructure, bigger than energy," Bough said. "All the things that used to grow a previous world of organizations are now going to be not as important as the actual people who work for you."
For companies putting off investing in their workers, hiring could get a lot more difficult over time, since aging workforces around the world are expected to create significant labor shortages.
For example, a World Economic Forum report concluded that the U.S. would have to add 26 million workers by 2030 in order to sustain the average economic growth seen over the last two decades.
And the war for talent will be most acutely felt by employers seeking high-skilled workers, Boston Consulting Group's human resources expert Rainer Strack said in a 2014 TED Talk.
Considering how intense the battle for employees could become, Bough emphasized that maintaining talent will be just as important as hiring.
"Your job as talent, and working with people and having people under you, is to always be supportive of them," Bough said. "Always make sure that they are even better than you — that's what really matters here."
Indeed, in a Boston Consulting Group survey of 200,000 job seekers, respondents listed "good relationship with superior" and "appreciation for your work" as two of the most sought-after job preferences, well ahead of an attractive salary.