KPMG: UK unprepared for future workforce challenges

06 July 2015

Many UK businesses are not sufficiently prepared for future workforce challenges, finds a recent poll by KPMG and the Corporate Research Forum. While many businesses have a strategic work force plan, often times it is not coupled with their strategic business plan, and businesses end up reacting to changing staffing needs rather than acting proactively. A further issue highlighted is a generalisation across staff around performance and assessment, where a segmented approach may be more effective.

A recent poll conducted by the Corporate Research Forum* (CRF) in conjunction with KPMG explores the way in which ‘human capital’ is managed and deployed in the UK. Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) includes taking actions to acquire, retain, develop, motivate and deploy human capital and is utilised by businesses looking to improve and manage future workforce challenges. The key finding of the poll is that UK businesses are poorly managing and deploying their staff.

KPMG & CRF: UK unprepared for future workforce challenges

From the research it becomes clear that few businesses have implemented a comprehensive and holistic workforce strategy. Only 15% of polled organisations emphasised a clear link between work force planning and overall strategic business planning, with many businesses having only fragmented and isolated workforce plans in relation to wider their strategy. Of the surveyed companies, 47% returned that they had no recruitment plan for the following 12 months, further highlighting that many businesses are reacting to needs rather than pre-empting them before time. According to the researchers, this reluctance to identify workforce risks “leads to poor succession planning, insufficient anticipation of recruitment needs and a lack of understanding of future skill requirements.”

A further issue highlighted by the research is the practice of a ‘one size fits all’ approach to assessing staff performance, management and appraisals, which has the potential to be detrimental to the long term business performance. A segmentation approach may produce better outcomes.

David Knight & Mike Haffenden

David Knight, Associate Partner at KPMG, comments on the results: “One of the biggest issues that business will face in the coming years is the management of human capital. Workforce planning is now seen as critical to sustaining performance and growth, and the responsibility for this lies not only with HR Directors, but with the wider executive team. Poor planning can make it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions, as well as retain talent in competitive industries. The ability to forecast skills requirements, pre-empt workforce risks and deploy resources efficiently will underpin financial success for organisations in future.”

Mike Haffenden, Director from Corporate Research Forum, adds: “In today's world of ever-increasing complexity, it is even more important to prepare for an uncertain future armed with a flexible plan, rather than simply reacting to unforeseen events. Adopting a strategic approach to workforce planning will leave organisations better prepared to deal with a dynamic and fast-changing environment.”

* Corporate Research Forum (CRF) is an in 1994 established membership network for organisations looking to develop their people strategy and organisational effectiveness. The Forum which currently consists of 145 organisations is “driven by the need to provide well researched, academically robust yet practical content at events which are organised to provide an environment conducive to easy networking and knowledge sharing.”