People challenges, talent gaps emerge as biggest challenges for HR leaders

But organisations are lagging on talent acquisition, upskilling, says report

People challenges, talent gaps emerge as biggest challenges for HR leaders

People challenges and talent gaps emerged as the biggest problems for HR professionals across the world, but employers' capabilities when it comes to addressing these issues appear to be lagging.

These are some of the findings of a joint report from the Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA), which surveyed 6,893 people leaders from 102 markets across the world.

Majority (72%) of the respondents cited people challenges and talent gaps as the "biggest business challenge" that their organisation is facing. Other challenges include:

  • Digital transformation/innovation (53%)
  • Economic challenges/downturn (44%)
  • Significant growth path (38%)
  • Sustainability transformation (33%)

Despite majority of employers citing people challenges and talent gaps as their top challenge, the report found that only 35% of respondents use relevant digital technologies for their people management function.

Only 30% of the respondents also said they are using HR data and analytics to anticipate people challenges.

"There is clearly room for improvement in harnessing the power of digital technologies, especially in light of the increasing adoption of AI-enabled tools," the report said.

Views on people-related matters

Even with these gaps, however, many employers recognise the importance of talent acquisition in workplaces. In fact, many of the respondents placed "high" or "somewhat high" importance on related areas such as:

  • Recruiting strategy and process (82%)
  • Strategic workforce planning (82%)
  • Rewards and recognition (79%)
  • Onboarding (78%)
  • Top talent management (78%)

The report, however, noted that these highly important areas saw a decline when it comes to the number of employers who have high or somewhat high capabilities on handling them.

According to the report, only 42% of employers said they have "high" or "somewhat high" capabilities on their recruiting strategy and process. For others:

Upskilling also lagging

Meanwhile, the report also underscored the importance of upskilling and reskilling staff in the wake of talent gaps.

"The results, however, show that companies are focusing too little on this topic," the report said.

According to the findings, the number of employers that placed high importance on upskilling went down to 80% from 2021.

The number of employers that put high capabilities on upskilling and reskilling also declined to 34%.

The report acknowledged that people management leaders may be concerned about bringing in external talent, but it stressed that developing current talent should also be a priority.

"Companies need to continuously prioritise developing the talent they already have — and upskilling and reskilling, in conjunction with effective talent acquisition, is critical to making this happen," said Anthony Ariganello, president of WFPMA, in a statement.

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