Neither bosses nor staff feel confident about future UK business environment

Two new reports published this week, show a lack of confidence amongst employers and employees within the UK business environment. The latest data in Gartner’s Global Talent Monitor report shows employee confidence in near-term business conditions and long-term economic prospects reaching an index score of 55.6 for the last quarter of 2018, a decline of 7.5 percent from an index score of 60.09 in 3Q18. These results follow a worldwide trend that has seen global business confidence sink to its lowest point since the fourth quarter of 2017. Meanwhile a survey of business leaders in the UK by management consultancy Lane4 found that bosses do not feel prepared to lead through future challenges like artificial intelligence and political volatility. Less than a third (32 percent) feel highly equipped with the skills required to be exceptional leaders in the future. At the same time, over three quarters (79 percent) agree that senior leaders in their organisation will need to adopt a different mindset for their business to succeed in the future. In the Gartner research the lapse in confidence was paired with a sharp decline in employees’ active job seeking behaviour, which fell by 7.2 percent from 3Q18.

“Our most recent Global Talent Monitor data shows that talent attraction is set to be a particular challenge in the months ahead, regardless of how Brexit plays out,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. “With fewer opportunities to pull talent into their organization, employers need to ensure they don’t alienate the brightest and best talent within their company.”

While fewer UK workers are actively seeking new roles, the top attributes driving job dissatisfaction remained the same. Future career opportunity – or rather, a lack of it – was cited by 45.6 percent of departing employees in the UK as the most dissatisfying attribute of their previous employer. This was followed by personal development opportunity (37.4 percent) and recognition (36.9 percent) – showing that employees consistently want to see their ambitions matched and acknowledged in the workplace.

The top priorities for UK employees when considering a new role remained similar from 3Q18, with 45.9 percent of UK employees seeking work-life balance in their new job – 7.8 percent higher than the global average. Location and job stability placed second and third, picked by 39.9 and 31.5 percent of employees. Overall, UK employees placed significantly less weight on compensation, with only 27 percent naming this as a top attribute, compared with the global average of 45 per cent.

Engaging and Retaining Talent

With more employees planning to stay in their current roles and increase their discretionary effort at work amid an uncertain economic and political climate, employers must establish strategies to better engage, retain and reward their current workforce.

“UK employees clearly have greater priorities than compensation, challenging the assumption made by many companies: that paychecks matter most to workers,” Kropp said. “Organizations must deliver what employees want most and, just as important, they must communicate this to current employees and prospects alike. Doing so can drastically increase employees’ satisfaction and trust in their employer, and thus improve their overall engagement with the business.”

Top skills needed by business leaders

In the Lane4 research the top skills business leaders think are essential for future success are:

  1. Strategic thinking (47 percent)
  2. Critical thinking (40 percent)
  3. Data literacy (37 percent)
  4. System thinking (35 percent)
  5. Adaptability (34 percent) and resilience (34 percent)

Dr. Alison Maitland, Director of Research and Product, Lane4, said: “These findings really challenge the worldview of senior business and human resource executives. Several global trends are already re-sculpting the business landscape. Unless leaders adopt a more balanced sense of responsibility and recalibrate both their skills and mindsets to match the demands of this environment, their organisations will not last long.

All our data indicates that to thrive amidst the trends, leaders will need to expand their current thinking, beliefs, motivations and values in various ways, adopting a multi-lens view of themselves their role and their organisation.”