- Richard Shea
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently revealed that employment increased to a record 75.3%, with 400,000 jobs created in the last year.
This positive news, undoubtedly. But it also masks a bigger issue – a skills gap that threatens UK businesses and the wider economy, at an estimated cost of around £63 billion a year. This is largely down to the latest digital revolution, led by the emergence and increasing dominance of tech. Like all revolutions, our new working environments are putting new skillsets in demand.
For organisations, keeping up with this demand for skills – and indeed the wider disruption that digital is causing industries – is no simple task. So what can be done to ensure businesses get the right talent, to not only protect their business, but to help it thrive in a digital future?
Always be prepared
It’s no secret that businesses face a time of uncertainty. There huge political and economic shifts taking place at a regional and global level. At the same time, digital disruption is continuously presenting new skills and jobs that didn’t exist just a few years ago – and with virtual reality (VR) designers being the norm today, who knows what will come tomorrow?
In order to be ready to capitalise on the opportunities that do present themselves, and to insulate from risk, it is essential for organisations to put effective workforce plans in place. This means spending the time to build a coherent strategy around talent acquisition. This must align clearly with the overarching business strategy, but also address current and future talent demands and trends. This is how a business can best identify when and where gaps in personnel may appear, and therefore can limit the number of snap hires it has to make. It will also keep a business agile, ready to react to a shifting economic landscape.
Upskilling employees by looking within
It’s not just about looking outside the business for the right talent, but also making sure the existing talent is given the platform and support to develop. By considering different ways of further improving employees’ knowledge in different areas of the business can make a huge impact on staff retention and employee success.
In most cases, businesses default to external – and often – expensive trainers to help upskill its workforce. However, in order to deliver on this, organisations should look at putting in place centralised platforms which bring together data on employee performance and training which can help better manage and facilitate the development of internal candidates – which includes identifying leaders or even function changes.
A strong leadership pipeline
Another area that businesses often realise is important, but don’t always address properly, is leadership. Clearly, in order for future success to be achieved, there need to be the leaders to make it happen. This is about building a structured programme to help identify and foster leadership talent. And the investment is worth it.
Korn Ferry Hay Group research found that the cost of replacing a manager within 6–12 months of their hire is almost two and a half times the person’s annual salary. Getting the hires right and helping future leaders flourish makes simple business sense.
The pace of change organisations are experiencing right now is remarkable: traditional industries are being disrupted, business models are evolving, and skilled talent can be difficult to find and keep hold of. Taking a strategic approach to talent is the best way to future-proof a business. This means aligning with business, looking at talent outside and inside the organisation and building a leadership pipeline to take the company forwards.
Richard Shea is managing director, Global Expansion – Markets, at Korn Ferry