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Leadership 'top critical talent problem for UK firms'

Apr 30
Tags: Deloitte
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Leadership 'top critical talent problem for UK...

For the majority of organisations, a lack of leadership is the biggest issue in terms of talent, according to a new study from Deloitte.

The 'UK Human Capital Trends 2015' survey, which reveals the top trends in shaping the human capital agenda, revealed that almost nine in ten (86 per cent) companies in Britain feel that this is their most significant challenge for the third year in a row.

It is also the most pressing concern for international organisations for the second consecutive year.

Just eight per cent of the UK respondents believe that their leadership pipeline is 'excellent' and strong enough to resolve the problem. The survey noted that the capability gap - the difference between Deloitte's importance index and readiness index - has risen to 35, marking the widest polarity across any of the issues assessed in this year's report.

Another challenge highlighted by the survey was businesses' difficulty in developing Millennial leaders, which refers to people born after 1982, with only six per cent of UK respondents claiming to have 'excellent' programmes in place.

More than half of British firms interviewed say their succession plans are not currently clear or up to date, with Deloitte's Millennial Survey 2015 revealing that almost six in ten of those born after 1982 hope to climb to a position of seniority in their organisation during their working life.

Anne-Marie Malley, head of Deloitte UK’s human capital practice, explains: "By 2025, Millennials will represent three-quarters of the workforce. With four million baby boomers retiring each year, Millennials will become ever more important to organisations, and shape the world of work in the future.

"And yet, our research shows a clear lack of commitment to this vital group’s development. This needs to be urgently addressed.”

Crisis on the horizon

The culture of an organisation - defined as deep employee engagement, meaningful work, strong leadership importance, and organisational fit - has become an increasingly important issue for companies across the globe.

In the UK, less than one-fifth of firms surveyed believe they could clearly define, communicate and measure their culture. As a result of this, eight out of ten respondents said they struggle against a lack of employee engagement.

According to Ms Malley, a firm's culture needs to line up with and support its business strategy, with the issue now being recognised as a critical challenge that has tangible impacts on the firm.

"It is no longer seen as a ‘soft concept’ or a ‘nice to have,” she noted.

Learning and development

The results of Deloitte's survey indicate that learning and development has become a serious talent challenge for organisations in the UK, rising from eleventh place in 2014 to fourth this year.

More than seven in ten respondents rated learning as 'important' or 'very important' to their organisations, but actually capabilities dropped as the gap climbed to 20 from 12.

Deloitte suggests that the increased capability gap could be down to technology. For example, although the availability of digital and mobile learning tools has risen, only eight per cent of UK organisations surveyed rated themselves as 'excellent' at providing mobile learning.  

As a result of this, almost 80 per cent of British businesses and HR leaders involved in the report cited workforce capability as one of their most important challenges, but only four per cent are 'very ready' to address the issue.

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