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Leadership development is ‘top priority for firms’

Leadership development is 'top priority for firms'

Leadership development is now the number one priority for organisations in the UK, a new report says.

Deloitte has published its UK Human Capital Trends 2014 report, examining the patterns shaping the human capital agenda. The study suggests that the new emphasis on leadership development could be attributed to changing leadership needs and the challenge of addressing multiple generations of leaders.

Leadership development scored 74 per cent on the report's importance index. It is followed by reskilling the human resource (HR) function (70 per cent), retention and engagement (70 per cent), global HR and talent management (68 per cent) and, finally, talent analytics (68 per cent).

While leadership development is ranked as most important, companies' readiness to address the issue is relatively low – it scored just 43 per cent on the readiness index.

David Parry, head of Deloitte UK's human capital practice, said: "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."

According to the study, UK organisations face larger capability gaps when it comes to the top five talent and leadership priority issues and their readiness to respond to them.

Specifically, the UK lags behind other countries when it comes to addressing the issues of reskilling the HR function and implementing talent analytics.

Mr Parry said there had been a lack of investment in developing the HR function in recent years and this has contributed to the skills gap.

Several emerging trends are identified in the report. HR is increasingly seen as a "business contribution" function, which demands deeper skills in data and analytics and broader consulting capabilities.

Organisations will need to focus on retention, which is likely to become a concern due to several years of reduced investment, cost cutting, and stagnating opportunities, careers and wages. Novel methods are thus needed to re-engage the workforce, the report says.

In addition, as the UK lags behind on HR analytics, organisations will have to up their game when it comes to using big data, as many firms have yet to make the most of this technology.