Study: Only 30% of Companies Say Their Employees Have Needed Skills, but Few Understand Current Capabilities (i4cp login required)


Data collected by human capital research firm Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) from more than 1,300 HR and business executives across 80 countries make it clear: most organizations don’t know the employee skills and capabilities of their workforces, what they will need in the next one-to-three years, or how to effectively bridge any gaps.

According to other recent i4cp research, 72% surveyed on the topic of talent loss said that their organizations anticipate at least a moderate talent exodus in the months ahead. Coupled with an already strained labor market, many business leaders and HR executives are looking to the future with desperation in their eyes.

While future workforce planning is typically focused on external talent, immense opportunity exists within every organization’s existing workforce—but knowing how to identify, build, and deploy it are questions most don’t have answers for. Among the respondents to i4cp’s workforce readiness survey who represented organizations with 1,000 or more employees:

  • 12% consider upskilling or reskilling efforts in their organizations to be effective
  • 15% indicate their organizations are highly effective at analyzing the gap between current workforce capabilities and future business requirements
  • 27% believe LinkedIn knows more about their workforces than their organizations do
  • 39% say it’s easier for their employees to find jobs externally than internally

The silver lining is that high-performance organizations—those participants in the study that ranked in the top quartile of growth in the past five years in revenue, profit, market share, and customer satisfaction—are 2x more likely than their low-performing counterparts (47% vs. 21%) to indicate (to a high or very high extent) that their workforces are ready for the future.

In the new research report, Accelerating Total Workforce Readiness (available exclusively to i4cp members), we the best and next practices in employee skill tracking, upskilling, and talent mobility that distinguish high-performance organizations. Six key findings covered:

  1. Workforce readiness isn’t universally understood. Most firms are not clear about what workforce readiness means and most leaders don’t know their role in that equation. Additionally, 43% of those surveyed don’t have a process for analyzing workforce readiness—all three of these findings show strong negative correlation to workforce readiness effectiveness.
  2. Most organizations are operating in the dark. Over half of survey participants said their organizations had insufficient data about the current skills and capabilities of the workforce, ranking it the number-one barrier to building workforce readiness. No wonder, as only 10% reported having an employee skills database or inventory with profiles for all employees.
  3. Beyond skills, true workforce readiness considers a broad array of capabilities. Just how ready is a highly skilled workforce that is burnt out and disengaged? High-performance organizations consider a more complete view of their workforce that includes capability, level of engagement, well-being, and culture health, among other aspects.
  4. New capability demands a change-ready culture. Organizations with high degrees of workforce readiness are 3x more likely to have company cultures that embrace change and 5x more likely to have leaders who embrace new ways of working.
  5. Talent hoarding is an impediment to workforce readiness. Tolerating or allowing managers to hoard talent (instead of encouraging continuous development and movement across the organization) is one of the most significant barriers to workforce readiness.
  6. Deconstructing work is an effective building strategy. Workforce planning must mature beyond basic headcount planning and talent sourcing to become a truly strategic enterprise function. High-performance organizations are 2x more effective at deconstructing jobs into individual tasks and skills needed, 2.5x more effective at forecasting the skills and capabilities the organization will need in the next one-to-three years, and leverage much wider, more diverse talent sources beyond traditional full-time and part-time employees.

i4cp members: download the Accelerating Total Workforce Readiness report now.

If your organization is not a member of the i4cp community, view our member benefits to learn how we can help your leadership team see around the curve.

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