Shrinking the gap between talent and strategy

03 August 2023

Finding the right people for the right roles is critical and the pressure is not going away. To help NED’s meet this challenge, our event focused on shrinking the gap between talent and strategy.

Almost daily technological advancements, changes in regulation and developments on a global scale bring with them increasing opportunity and challenges – particularly when it comes to managing a workforce.

Without the right skills and talent in an organisation, losing competitive advantage becomes an inevitable but a dangerous position to be in.

What the major pain points related to talent?

There are several internal and external factors at play which make assembling and maintaining a strong team less than straight forward. We asked attendees of our May event what the biggest talent challenges were for NEDs at the moment, across sectors and different business types. The top three were:

  • finding the right skills and competencies (75% of businesses);
  • attracting talent (70%); and
  • talent retention (65%).

These findings are indicative of the wider trends we’re seeing across most markets. As businesses expand into new markets and areas, how can they ensure the competencies of the workforce and the skills they have are able to algin to it? There are no simple answers, but understanding the causes is key.

What external factors are impacting talent and strategy?

  • Cost of living – the cost-of-living crisis is putting pressure on employee and employer finances. Salary expectations are changing, and so are the roles being advertised. Potential employees may not be taking roles because of unattractive salaries, and this is leaving significant gaps in the market.
  • Low unemployment rates means organisations need to attract talent from people may not be actively looking for new roles, which again pushed wage expectation up. To justify those rising team costs there has to be a subsequent increase in profitability or output, so expectations are also growing. And this contributes to challenges in talent retention.
  • Artificial intelligence and automation – while we are not necessarily seeing job losses due to technology like ChatGPT, organisations are actively using automation to adjust to gaps in the market. This means that existing teams must adapt, meaning more change and new skills. This bigger and different remit inevitably leads to conversations about salaries –a vicious circle of challenge.

The role of organisational design

Organisational design, meaning designing or re-designing the shape of an organisation to support its strategy, plays a key role in how a business can respond to external pressures and challenges.

The key questions that boards, including NEDs, should be asking to facilitate organisational design are as below.

  1. What do we need?
  2. What do we have already?
  3. What can we develop?
  4. What do you need to bring in?
  5. What can we automate?

Having clear and actionable answers to each of these will make aligning talent and strategy easier to map.

Listen to our NED Network event on talent and strategy for more insights.