Companies 'concerned' about lack of future leaders

Talent development is never far from the minds of senior HR executives, as they recognise how important it is to find the leaders of tomorrow.

Across various sectors, HR professionals are looking to make sure talent is nurtured and improved over time, as they recognise that finding an in-house solution will reap the biggest benefits long-term.

However, a serious problem remains around the issue of leadership, as the latest UK Human Capital Trends survey from Deloitte has found that 86 per cent of UK organisations have identified leadership as one of their biggest challenges.

It has emerged as the most pressing concern for UK companies for the third year running, while globally it is ranked as the second most important issue. This serves to underline just how seriously HR departments need to take the problem.

Step forward Millennials

Only six per cent of respondents said they have excellent programmes in place for creating millennial leaders (defined as people born after 1982). Considering that six in ten millennials want to secure senior positions in their current organisation during their working life, and that millennials will represent three-quarters of the workforce by 2025, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

"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," said Anne-Marie Malley, head of Deloitte UK's human capital practice.

Getting learning right

The 'capability gap' facing organisations continues to grow, as companies are failing to take advantage of improvements in technology to improve their training programmes. Indeed, 80 per cent of companies have identified workforce capability as a real issue, but only four per cent feel they are currently equipped to deal with this.

Part of the solution could be the greater use of digital and mobile learning tools to provide a value-added service to all members of staff.

"The war for talent is becoming more ferocious, as the UK economy grows, technology changes the way we do business, skills become more specialised and generational transitions occur," said Ms Malley. "To help attract and retain talent, organisations need to revamp their entire strategy to measure, manage and improve employee engagement."

What's next for HR?

Professor of management practice at London Business School Lynda Gratton believes that technology has actually disrupted the talent management process by altering where some candidates are being sourced from.
Speaking at the Hot Spots Movement's Talent Innovation conference, she said many roles have been made redundant through automation, and this means there is no longer a clear route for junior staff to progress to senior positions.

"Companies must develop an understanding of their talent ecosystem and the myriad options now available to people," HR Magazine reported her as saying.

With only one in ten UK organisations describing their HR performance as excellent, it is time for HR professionals to take the lead on identifying future leaders and keeping pace with changes across their own organisations.