Over the past eight years, some aspects of the UK findings have remained consistent irrespective of market dynamics. In the 2008 survey, 92% of UK CEOs highlighted the people agenda as their top priority, exhibiting a strong focus on talent that has continued ever since. Two-thirds of UK business leaders are planning to increase their organisation’s headcount in 2016, a higher proportion than their peers in any other European country and in most markets worldwide. Only CEOs in Mexico and India are planning to hire more. Just one fifth of UK business leaders expect their headcount to decrease, proportionate to the global average.
Looking at UK CEOs’ list of concerns this year, the proportion citing the availability of key skills has fallen markedly to 71% from 84% last year, putting them roughly in line with CEOs globally.
As well as hiring more people as part of their talent strategy, UK CEOs are planning to develop and retain their existing talent by improving their workplace culture and behaviours, managing their talent pipeline, and changing pay and incentives.
UK CEOs are looking to change workplace culture and behaviours, cited as a priority by 54% of UK CEOs, against 41% globally. Asked what aspects of their talent strategy they are changing to make the greatest impact on attracting, retaining and engaging the people they need to remain relevant and competitive, some 50% of UK CEOs highlight a focus on their pipeline of leaders for tomorrow. This figure is just ahead of the global average, and compares to 45% in Germany and 35% in France.
When asked, as part of the survey, what elements of their talent strategy they would like to change, comparatively few CEOs, both in the UK and elsewhere, are focusing on global mobility (5% of UK CEOs, compared to 7% globally) and predictive workforce analytics (4%, the same as the global figure) in order to remain relevant and competitive.