Workforce Challenges Ahead

High-level executives express concern about whether their workforces are prepared for a more competitive business environment.
Numerous factors drive business success, but many companies are coming up short in one of the more critical elements -- the workforce.

According to an Accenture study that examined high-performance workforce issues, many companies don't feel prepared to compete in an improved economic and business climate.

Just 17 percent of the 244 high-level executive respondents described the overall skill level of their entire workforce as ''industry-leading'', and the respondents indicated that the war for talent would have a greater impact over the next 12 months. Just 6 percent said that the war for talent is currently having a severe impact on their company, compared to 13 percent who expected to feel the severe impact in the coming year.

While 65 percent rated ''developing effective leadership capability'' as very important, only 8 percent said their company performed very well in that area. ''Creating an organization and culture that adapt effectively to change'' was considered very important to roughly half the respondents, yet only 8 percent gave their companies high marks in that regard.

The study found that organizational shortcomings often originate with the human resource department's training programs, and large disparities were evident between priorities and progress.

Goals that were unmatched by results were evident among the initiatives that the respondents deemed as important. Improving worker productivity was the initiative with the highest priority for more than two-thirds of the respondents, yet only a scant few were satisfied with their progress on this initiative.

Respondents were mostly C-level executives and senior human resource executives and the survey found that the severity of the workforce problems differed according to the position. C-level respondents were more optimistic than HR respondents when asked about employees' understanding of company goals and strategies, and nearly twice as many C-level respondents said their overall workforce was "industry leading" than HR executives (24 percent compared to 13 percent).

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