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UK Employers Struggle To Unlock Full Talent Potential

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.


Key Findings:


  • Businesses in the UK are least confident in their ability to recruit specialised talent.

  • UK workers say lack of skills development and career opportunities top frustrations.

  • Employers feel unprepared for how AI might affect their business.

  • Despite this, UK employers are most likely to consider employee wellbeing and most confident in their ability to improve diversity, inclusion, and belonging.


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%) and that poor workforce planning is impeding business growth (52%). Furthermore, 2 in 5 executives (43%) say they are missing business opportunities due to lack of talent.

More than a quarter (29%) 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% 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%) and a lack of career progression opportunities (25%) 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%).

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

Organizations 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%) and most (55%) 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%) and most confident in their ability to improve diversity, inclusion, and belonging (63%). Executives in the UK were also most likely to describe their workforce as “highly resilient” (58%).

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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