How are UK PLCs tackling the big issues for British business?

Getting ready for renewal

Our survey covered areas such as the changing expectations of the workforce, evolving operating models due to advances in cyber and technology and the possibility of a British exit from the EU.

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Getting ready for renewal

We interviewed the leaders of top listed businesses, nominated for the 2015 UK Stock Market Awards, to discover how they're tackling the big issues for British business; including the changing expectations of the workforce, evolving operating models due to advances in cyber and technology and the possibility of a British exit from the EU.

Our survey related to previous pieces of thought leadership published by KPMG experts. The aim was to test their opinions against the view from the front line. Did the FTSE  350 representatives agree with the advisors?

Pricing: A missed opportunity to drive profit

My colleague, Robert Browne’s experience in pricing strategy has shown that pricing has not traditionally been prominent on the board agenda. As a consequence, most businesses have not developed clear pricing roles, processes, controls, tools or training.

However, when we asked the Stock Market Awards nominees whether they agreed that their pricing function was far less sophisticated than their procurement function, the majority disagreed.

This doesn’t reflect our experience on the ground, but may be a result of the sophistication of the nominees. Pricing is undoubtedly an area that’s rising up the agenda, and early adopters of effective strategies can get ahead of the competition.

Attracting the best talent: Why ‘corporate purpose’ has a new currency

Following the results of earlier research within KPMG, Kate Holt, KPMG HR director, believes that talented employees are thinking less about cash or career status in the longer term and focussing more on the nature of the company they’re affiliated with. The majority of respondents agreed.

They are conscious of the need to differentiate themselves from the rest by clarifying the purpose behind their company, as well as connecting with their communities. However, anyone can pay lip service to a set of values. It is essential that the values are authentic, employees will soon find out if they’re not.

Older workers: Are stereotypes working against experience?

We then turned our attention to how older workers are perceived in today’s market. David Knight, a workforce optimisation expert, believes that many employers are still obsessed with youth, driven by entrenched stereotypes of young people as more energised, adaptable and flexible than their older colleagues.

So we asked our nominees whether they recognised that there was a silent tipping point within the workforce; an age after which employees – rightly or wrongly – are perceived in a different light.

Many of our respondents disagreed with our expert, with one stating ‘good people don’t go off like a banana’.

There is a divergence here between what people say and what they do. I wonder if people are concerned about speaking out of turn. There hasn’t been as much legislation around ageism as say, gender, race or sexuality but I suspect there is more to come.

Brexit: Are there upsides or only downs?

The final question related to an issue that raises strong and divided feelings; the impact of a possible British exit from the EU. Given the likelihood of trade restrictions and the loss of London’s site as a centre of financial trading within Europe, KPMG researcher Mark Essex argues that a British exit could only ever have a negative impact on business and the City of London.

We turned this theory on its head for our nominees, and asked them whether they agreed that if Britain were to exit the EU, any impact would cease to be felt within two years.

The vast majority of our respondents disagreed, feeling that leaving the EU would be bad for business. Businesses don’t get a vote, so as representatives of the business community, we need to get that message across loud and clear, as the alternative could be decidedly unpalatable.

Get more insights from our survey in the full report.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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