Two-thirds of Australian businesses aren’t prepared for 2020’s workforce

Sydney, AustraliaGlobal research launched by Oxford Economics and supported by SAP has found that more than 60 per cent of Australian businesses have not made significant progress towards building a workforce strategy that will meet the business needs of tomorrow.

The Workforce 2020 report, which surveyed more than 5,500 employees and executives across 27 countries, found that while most companies recognise the importance of managing an international, diverse and mobile workforce, the majority lack the strategy, culture, and solutions to do so.

Locally, 33 per cent of Australian executives say they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking for workforce development. However the report found that many companies have difficulty turning this into insightful information, with Australia lagging behind global businesses in their ability to extract meaning from the data available to them (32 per cent vs. 42 per cent).

“What we see from this research is a significant gap between business preparation and business requirements when it comes to skills, benefits and training to meet the needs of both the organisation and the employees over the next six years,” said Andrew Barkla, President and Managing Director, SAP Australia and New Zealand.

“The Australian market in particular appears to be disconnected when it comes to management concerns and leadership, as well as training and education to bring businesses even further into the digital world,” he added.

From the results of this research, five key themes were identified in Australia:

1. Priorities are shifting

  • Companies and workers are unprepared for the growing need for technology skills, as less than half (46 per cent) of Australian employees get ample training on workplace technology, and even fewer (26 per cent) get access to the latest technology.

  • Staffing requirements and HR priorities have also shifted, with 85 per cent of Australian businesses saying they are increasingly using contingent, intermittent, seasonal, or consultant employees, and 49 per cent saying that this requires increased investment in training.

2. Management is out of touch with Millennial needs

  • There is a disconnect between management and the latest working generation in Australia – 41 per cent of executives believe that Millennials are frustrated with manager quality, however none of the Millennial respondents said they were. Thirty eight per cent of executives also think Millennials will consider leaving their jobs due to lack of learning and development; but no Millennials said they had done so.

3. Companies lack understanding of employees needs

  • Fifty two percent of employees say that competitive compensation is important to them, but according to executives, just 36 per cent of businesses offer this widely. Similarly, 43 per cent of employees would like flexible working conditions, but this is offered to most employees in just 24 per cent of Australian businesses.

4. Executives and employees agree that leadership is mostly absent

  • Just one third of Australian executives say their company plans for succession and continuity in key roles, and 31 per cent say that their leaders are prepared to lead a diverse workforce.

  • Thirty three per cent of managers believe that the talent available in leadership positions is sufficient to drive global growth, while a similar number of employees agree – 34 per cent say executives at their company are equipped to lead the business to success.

5. Better training and education opportunities would benefit everyone

  • Businesses need to be better in tune with the training and tools employees actually need – while 61 per cent of Australian executives say their company widely offers supplemental training programs, only 43 per cent of employees say their company provides the right tools to help them improve and grow.

  • As the digital business world continues to flourish, the need for analytics skills will also grow; 39 per cent of employees expect to be proficient in this field in three years, while just 15 per cent meet this standard today.

Uniquely Australian

The report also found some interesting trends coming out of Australian businesses that go against the grain of the global workforce. According to the research, 66 per cent of Australian businesses say that workforce issues drive strategy at the board level, compared to 52 per cent globally, and 35 per cent in North America.

Australian employees also demand more work/life balance in their day-to-day employment with 53 per cent of Australian non-Millenials declaring it as important to job satisfaction, compared to 31 per cent of non-Millenials globally. Forty five per cent of Millenials in Australia also believe it is important to them, compared to 29 per cent globally.

About SAP

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For more information, press only:

Ellen Sinclair, +61 2 8281 3228, SAP@howorth.com.au, AEDT

Perry Manross, +61 409 928 209, perry.manross@sap.com, AEDT