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UK firms 'prioritising leadership development'

The need for effective leadership has jumped to the top of businesses’ priority lists, according to new Deloitte research.

Data from the business advisory firm shows that developing effective leaders is now the main area of focus for UK employers, rising from fourth position with a score of 74%.

The group’s UK Human Capital Trends 2014 report also reveals that re-skilling the human resources (HR) function (70%), retaining and engaging staff (70%), managing global HR services and talent (68%), and improving talent analytics (68%) are other key concerns.

‘Lack of engagement’
David Parry, head of the human capital practice at Deloitte UK, said the development of leadership skills is a key function of HR departments.

But he warned: “While leadership is listed as the top priority for UK organisations (74% on the Importance Index), the readiness to address this issue remains low (only 43% on the Readiness Index).

“There is a ticking time bomb aspect to this trend, as there is strong evidence to suggest that millennials are not being sufficiently engaged and developed as future leaders, and pathways to leadership for all employees aren’t clearly defined.”

UK firms ‘lagging behind’
At present, Deloitte’s study suggests that British companies lag behind their global counterparts in terms of re-skilling the HR function and implementing talent analytics systems.

Mr Parry believes this has come about as a result of investment issues.

He said:
“The skills gap we observe is the result of both a lack of investment in developing HR over a number of - fairly lean - years, and what is often a lack of understanding within HR departments of exactly what capabilities are really needed in this changing environment.”

The importance of analytics
Looking ahead, Deloitte’s study indicates that HR teams increasingly require data and analytics skills, as they are coming to play more of a role in terms of ‘business contribution’.

However, despite the growing importance of HR analytics, the majority of global companies are failing to address this trend.

The study showed that 86% of those surveyed last year had no analytics capability within their HR function.

And while 32% of companies globally are ready to get to grips with HR analytics in the months to come, the figure stands at just 27% among British firms.

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