Bosses rank boosting human capital as top priority for 2015
CEOs are turning away from calculating the risks of world crises and getting back to management basics by boosting their employee development schemes
Business leaders from around the world have declared that grooming skilled employees to drive growth in their organisations is their top, strategic hurdle for 2015. That’s the message that has come through loud and clear from the 2015 CEO Challenge report, published by US-based business-research group The Conference Board.
In a wide-ranging, global survey – carried out in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – chief executives signalled concerns not just with the pressures of finding skilled individuals during a period of rising wage inflation, but with ensuring that those people would fit well within their specific corporate cultures and values. Those concerns are now much more important to senior executives than weighing up the risks posed by large-scale, world crises, such as troubles in the Middle East and the Ukraine. Indeed, the report says, “In a volatile business and geopolitical environment, CEOs see organisational agility and flexibility as a critical competency,” with human capital management core to promoting that agility.
The report adds: “While externalities certainly impact the business environment, CEO focus across the globe is on internal development of strong cultures of engagement, customer-centricity, innovation and accountability – all elements conceivably within their control. References to internally strong cultures, in particular, are pervasive among responses to this year’s survey. While they are conscious of what they can control, CEOs also need to be mindful of what they can’t control when it comes to planning contingency strategies for growth.”
With that in mind, the report notes, many recruiters are focusing on a “grow-your-own” strategy to create their future leaders – a process that has emerged as more favourable than turning to the wider jobs landscape. According to the report, “While skilled individuals are available on the open market (at a price, and CFOs are concerned about wage inflation), finding a person who also fits well within a specific corporate culture … is often harder than it sounds.”
As such, bosses have prioritised developing active human capital strategies – centred on improving productivity, boosting leadership effectiveness and building a performance culture through measurement and accountability. This is being carried out through training programmes designed to to upskill existing staff rosters and raise employee engagement.
The other major areas that bosses identified for improvement are innovation, customer relationships, operational excellence and sustainability. While the 2015 rankings for the top challenges closely mirror last year’s results – with human capital again at the top – the closely clustered importance scores indicate that CEOs are also focused on an enterprise-wide, integrated approach in their growth strategies that equally values human capital, innovation and customer-centricity, along with excellence in execution.