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New Research Finds UK HR Directors are Walking a Talent Tightrope


As the year comes to an end, what lies ahead in 2017 for the nation’s HR community? If new research among leading HR professionals is to be believed, many could be heading for a severe talent shortage. In an anonymous survey, The Curve Group spoke to 50 leading HR professionals from seven different industry sectors about their priorities, and found that many HR Directors are spending their time predominantly on day to day staffing requirements rather than focussing on long term business strategy.

Nearly half – 44% – of those questioned said this was not their preferred use of time – in fact they would rather be focusing on feeding insights up to the board and building longer term business strategies. But short term business needs, shaped by external issues such as Brexit, changing legislation and a growing urge to both nurture and attract the right talent means that HR Directors are unable to really drive their businesses forward.

Why is this such an issue? Some 92% of HR Directors see redesigning their organisation as their top priority for the next year. However, the survey discovered they feel they cannot do so, as time is instead being dedicated to recruitment and talent management issues. This problem is only likely to get worse – we know that the combined effects of an aging workforce, skills shortages, low birth rates and other factors mean that over one third of businesses are unable to fill their skilled roles, right now. These skilled individuals are in such high demand by other companies that turnover is also likely to increase. This is the root cause of the Talent Tightrope – senior HR professionals are unable to liberate themselves from tackling recruitment and staffing problems today, to develop strategies to plan ahead and ensure their organisations become a Magnet for Talent© and close the skills shortage for tomorrow.

On an encouraging note, some businesses in our research have started to take positive steps to address their HR Director’s focus. Over half of the leading HR professionals we spoke to told us that they would be keeping levels of outsourcing of HR functions the same in the year ahead, while a further quarter will be investing more in outsourcing in 2017 to free up their HR Directors from recruitment, staffing and admin tasks. We also know that outsourcing HR functions can reduce acquisition overheads by a quarter for businesses – so not only liberating the HR Director to address bigger issues, but these companies’ recruitment costs are also being reduced. It looks set to be a brighter 2017 for these businesses who are reprioritising and streamlining to better cope with the recruitment and talent issues 2017 is set to bring. This is likely to be a key differentiator for all of those walking the Talent Tightrope in 2017, setting those enterprises who are able to plan and resource effectively apart from those businesses who prove unable to free their HR leaders from the day to day to focus on the bigger issues laying ahead.