By Daniel Hunter

Despite over half of senior HR professionals believing talent to be one of the most critical factors for business success, there are still significant talent and skills shortages at all levels across UK organisations, according to new research released by leadership, management and development consultancy Cedar.

97% of those surveyed do not think that their organisation has all the talent it needs to be successful and 95% report skills gaps. The highest percentage of skills gaps were identified as leadership capability (69% of those surveyed felt their organisation was missing skills in this area), performance management (56%) and people skills (55%).

Meanwhile talent gaps were identified in a number key areas / organisational levels, most prominently first line and middle management (24% of respondents identified this gap as most important) including women in senior positions (17%), and senior management (16%).

The research also revealed that talent is still not considered high priority for many businesses and is not being made integral to business strategy.

Over half (52%) of HR professionals said the senior executives at their organisations did not have a shared understanding of what talent meant, while 63% did not a have a published talent management strategy. Of those who did have strategies in place, 84% felt these were not completely aligned with their business strategy and only 26% measured the business impact of their talent management programmes and initiatives.

HR’s frustration with the lack of senior interest in talent was reflected in the answers to the question ‘what one thing would you change that you believe would make the biggest difference to the talent your business needs?’ One respondent commented that talent needs to be “higher on the business agenda”, while another thought that “talent management [needs] to be championed and owned by senior and executive management”.

“If UK Plc. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace as the economy continues to slowly take a turn for the better, UK businesses need to start taking the issue of talent planning and talent development seriously," Penny de Valk, Chief Executive of Cedar, said.

"People are one of an organisation’s most valuable assets, and having the right people in post is crucial to business success. Senior executives must start to collaborate more effectively with their senior HR colleagues to agree a shared vision of what ‘good’ looks like and pull together joined up talent strategies which both examine the current gaps in their companies and complement their existing business strategy.

“Holding executives responsible for the quality of their people is critical to an organisation’s performance. Filling in a 9 box model for talent management once a year or managers defaulting to recruiting in their own image will not drive organisational success.

“Instead, organisations should undertake regular audits to identify any particular areas that need improvement — from a skills and talent point of view, and put in place strategies to develop those specifically. More broadly, talent should be the responsibility of the whole business; it is too important a resource to be confined to one department. While HR takes the lead on talent, the whole organisation - and particularly senior management - should be invested in getting this right for overall success.”

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