By Maximilian Clarke

Struggling UK organisations are failing to identify and use the skills of many of their people, yet complain they are being hampered by lack of access to skills, says Randstad’s World of Work report.

Randstad’s research shows that 44% of workers say their skills are being underutilised, yet 38% of UK organisations complain that skills shortages are having a negative impact on operational performance and 40% say these shortages are impacting their ability to develop and innovate.

The report also identified that employers don’t have a grip on what makes them attractive to workers. The first priority for employees is the opportunity to perform meaningful work, closely followed by competitive levels of remuneration, but organisations rank these only fifth and fourth respectively, believing their employer brand and business values are their most attractive attributes.

“With such a high proportion of people in employment saying their capabilities are not being used properly, there is real opportunity lying inside organisations to help plug their skills gap,” said Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad. “We know that many of these people are thinking about moving job as soon as possible, so making full use of their capabilities will enable organisations to not only become more productive now, but also retain key talent.

“The lack of understanding of what employees value in a job should be another warning shot about workforce instability. In spite of the highly volatile macro environment, employers shouldn’t take their people for granted. We urge organisations to take a fresh look at their staff, not only to unearth and utilise hidden skills, but also to fully understand and respond to their motivators. This will help bed down talent for the long term, and make the organisation an attractive one for future workers.”

The eventual upturn in the UK’s economic fortunes is set to see a major and rapid movement of talent, so it is crucial that employers are appropriately positioned to secure the brightest candidates. And with the UK slipping down academic league tables, it is the more important that employers are prepared to address their particular role in bridging the skills gap.

Bull added: “Employers face an acute challenge to secure an appropriate balance of the skills needed today and those required to innovate and propel the UK forward. Organisations should create a roadmap from current to future skill requirements, and must be clear about which talent pools they will target to supply new capabilities — they may need to invest in up-skilling current employees, use their influence to support education, or tap into the increasing number of people that want to work on a freelance or temporary basis, rather than commit themselves to one employer.”

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