HR leaders expect skill shortages and talent to impact the workplace

Skill shortages and the war for talent will dominate the human resources agenda in the coming years, according to a new report.

Navigating the future: HR 2020 from law firm Eversheds Sutherland and market researcher Winmark reveals that two thirds (67%) of HR leaders in the UK, Continental Europe and Asia Pacific believe the war for talent will be one of the most pressing issues for their workplace. Skills shortages (57%) and remote working and anywhere/anytime delivery (46%) are also high on the agenda.

To manage the impact of these and other changes, companies are revising policies and procedures, training their workforce, investing in career path and talent planning, and investing in technology. Many are also exploring new recruitment initiatives such as apprenticeships, graduate programmes, encouraging referrals, and working with partners to widen the talent pipeline.

Martin Warren, head of labour relations at Eversheds Sutherland, said: “Employers are under increasing pressure to accommodate employee lifestyle choices and desire for flexibility as well as career aspirations and issues over productivity. Good management is a recurring theme in this context, with workers who feel valued and understood by their employer being more likely to perform well but also to demonstrate loyalty. Importantly, on the back of a period of austerity, both employers and employees have been reminded that these factors are not necessarily based on monetary reward alone.”

It’s hardly surprising that the war for talent is the main social trend that HR leaders expect will impact their workplaces, the authors of the report said. The demand for highly skilled workers is increasing yet there is a continued polarisation between high skilled and low skilled jobs, and a declining number of jobs requiring mid-level skills, making it harder for individuals to progress from low level to high level jobs.

“With social, digital and technology trends changing faster than ever before, we can’t assume we can continue to hire and engage with talent in the same way as before. We need to leverage emerging technology to do things differently,” commented Julie Chakraverty, non-executive director at Aberdeen Asset Management.

Thinking about how technological innovation can help drive efficiencies and fill some skills gaps, the respondents expect mobile technology (82%), online applications (67%) and automation (63%) to affect the way people will work in their organisations. A growing number of HR leaders also expect virtualisation (30%) and robotics (28%) to impact their workplace.

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