New research from The Conference Board and UK partner Chartered Management Institute (CMI) suggests chief executive officers (CEOs) are adopting a focus on workers in 2014 in order to maximise growth.
Employee engagement and better management are at the heart of a drive to reshape workplace culture in order to improve competitiveness and raise productivity.
The survey, CEO Challenge, was carried out to gauge opinion among CEOs, presidents and chairmen from 1,000 companies around the world. It found that Human Capital, which encompasses developing, retaining and engaging talented employees, is currently the biggest challenge facing CEOs.
An unexpected finding from the survey is that business leaders plan to focus on their existing workforce rather than launching recruitment drives. Nine out of the top ten Human Capital strategies are focussed on existing employees, striving to maintain engagement and retain critical talent – a disappointing result for those hoping to change jobs.
Management performance is also highly important, with "improving leadership development programmes" now up to fifth on the agenda – last year, it was tenth.
Ethical working is also a high priority. Integrity was ranked highest on the list of leadership attributes that are critical to future success, suggesting bosses are looking to improve the ethical dimension of work that was so severely compromised by high-profile scandals of recent years.
Leading change, managing complexity, an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to retain and develop talent were the other qualities valued most highly by those surveyed.
CMI’s director of strategy Petra Wilton said CEOs are faced with the challenge of building world-class workforces. "It’s good to see European leaders in particular recognising that leadership development is critical to getting this right. Leadership attributes like integrity, leading change and managing complexity are fundamental to cracking the challenges facing managers and leaders in the year ahead, and will be absolutely key to future success."
Ms Wilton went on to say the findings support the 'Valuing Your Talent' initiative, which is being developed by CMI in partnership with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Investors in People and the Royal Society for the Arts.