UK businesses not sufficiently prepared for future workforce challenges

UK businesses not sufficiently prepared for future

The research reveals that HR departments aren't segmenting workforces thoroughly enough

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UK businesses are not planning how to manage and deploy human capital, according to a poll conducted by Corporate Research Forum, in conjunction with KPMG. Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) includes taking actions to acquire, retain, develop, motivate and deploy human capital. Increasingly since the financial crisis, SWP has been utilised by businesses looking to improve performance and manage future challenges. However, this research indicates that there is substantial room for improvement.

The results of the research show that few businesses have comprehensive workforce strategies, with the majority taking a piecemeal approach to planning human capital. Only 15% of organisations polled said there is a clear link between their workforce planning and their overall strategic business plan, showing that where workforce plans exist, they often do so in isolation.

Organisations tend to react to workforce challenges, rather than plan for them. An alarming 47% of those surveyed said that recruitment forecasts for the next 12 months have not been undertaken in their organisations. This reluctance to identify workforce risks leads to poor succession planning, insufficient anticipation of recruitment needs and a lack of understanding of future skill requirements.

The research also reveals that HR departments aren’t segmenting workforces thoroughly enough. This leads to taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to assessment, management and appraisal, which can be detrimental to the long term performance of a business.

David Knight, Associate Partner at KPMG comments: “One of the biggest issues that business will face in the coming years is the management of human capital. Workforce planning is now seen as critical to sustaining performance and growth, and the responsibility for this lies not only with HR Directors, but with the wider executive team. Poor planning can make it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions, as well as retain talent in competitive industries. The ability to forecast skills requirements, pre-empt workforce risks and deploy resources efficiently will underpin financial success for organisations in future.”

Mike Haffenden, from Corporate Research Forum’s, comments: “In today‘s world of ever-increasing complexity, it is even more important to prepare for an uncertain future armed with a flexible plan, rather than simply reacting to unforeseen events. Adopting a strategic approach to workforce planning will leave organisations better prepared to deal with a dynamic and fast-changing environment.”

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Nicola Pallett, Corporate Research Forum

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About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

About Corporate Research Forum (CRF)

Established in 1994, Corporate Research Forum (CRF) is a membership network for organisations looking to develop their people strategy and organisational effectiveness.  As a focus for research, discussion and the practical application of contemporary topics arising from people leadership, learning & organisational development, CRF remains at the forefront of the HR industry.  For more information please visit

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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