Businesses in the UK are most likely to say they are failing to unlock the full potential of their employees and poor workforce planning is holding back growth for most organisations. According to a survey conducted in 13 countries by specialty talent solutions provider Kelly, businesses in the UK struggle most with recruiting specialised talent and developing their existing workforce.

The fourth annual global workforce report from Kelly, Building a Resilient Workforce in the Age of AI, shows more than half of senior executives in the UK say they are not unlocking the full potential of their workforce (51 per cent) and that poor workforce planning is impeding business growth (52 per cent). Furthermore, 2 in 5 executives (43 per cent) say they are missing business opportunities due to lack of talent.

More than a quarter (29 per cent) of executives in the UK express confidence in recruiting talent with technical or highly sought-after skills, the lowest rating among the 13 countries surveyed. By comparison, 67 per cent of executives in Germany say they are confident in recruiting specialised talent.

However, the survey indicates UK businesses don’t offer adequate training programs to tackle these challenges. UK workers identify a lack of skills development (29 per cent) and a lack of career progression opportunities (25 per cent) as their top frustrations. They are among the least likely to say their teams have the skills and capabilities required to achieve their objectives.

Among executives surveyed globally, those from the UK are most likely to cite insufficient development opportunities as reason for employee turnover (32 per cent).

Adelle Harrington, Vice President, EMEA, at KellyOCG said: “These findings are eye opening. They stress the importance of developing long-term workforce strategies that focus on the right mix of permanent and contingent workers, effective skills development, and employee engagement.”

Furthermore, AI is changing the talent landscape dramatically – and employees feel unprepared.

Although most employees recognise change is coming, only 38 per cent say they have received AI-related training and two-thirds (67 per cent) expect AI to impact their roles. While a third (37 per cent) feel positive about this, 3 in 5 (62 per cent) have negative or mixed feelings.

Organisations need to provide clarity about how AI will be deployed and train employees to use it effectively, only then will the workforce feel equipped to face the future with confidence.

Despite these challenges, the survey identified bright spots. Executives in the UK were most likely to say that improving employee wellbeing is a top priority (35 per cent) and most (55 per cent) said they are providing more wellbeing support than they were a year ago.

UK businesses were also least likely to say they have mandated onsite work (43 per cent) and most confident in their ability to improve diversity, inclusion, and belonging (63 per cent). Executives in the UK were also most likely to describe their workforce as “highly resilient” (58 per cent).

Whilst the report highlights the areas UK employers are excelling in, it’s clear that businesses require support in recruiting, maintaining and nurturing their current talent to help their business grow.

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