Global talent shortage is now the top emerging risk facing organisations

Staff shortages have escalated in the last three months to become the top emerging risk organisations face globally, according to Gartner’s latest Emerging Risks Survey. The survey of 137 senior executives in Q4 of 2018 showed that concerns about talent shortages now outweigh those around accelerating privacy regulation and cloud computing, which were the top two risks in the monitor for Q3.

“Organisations face huge challenges from the pace of business change, accelerating privacy regulations and the digitalisation of their industries,” said Matt Shinkman, managing vice president and risk practice leader at Gartner. “A common denominator here is that addressing these top business challenges involves hiring new talent that is in incredibly short supply.”

63% of respondents indicated that a talent shortage was a key concern for their organisation. The financial services, industrial and manufacturing, consumer services, government and nonprofit, and retail and hospitality sectors showed particularly high levels of concern in this area, with more than two-thirds of respondents in each industry signalling this as one of their top five risks.

The Gartner research indicates that companies need to shift from external hiring strategies towards training their current workforces and applying risk mitigation strategies for critical talent shortages.“Organisations face this talent crunch at a time when they are already challenged by risks that are exacerbated by a lack of appropriate expertise,” said Shinkman. “Previous hiring strategies for coping with talent disruptions are insufficient in this environment, and risk managers have a key role to play in collaborating with HR in developing new approaches.”

Beyond a global talent shortage, the report finds that business leaders are grappling with a series of interrelated risks from a rapidly transforming business environment. Accelerating privacy regulation remained a key concern, dropping into second place in this quarter’s survey. Respondents indicated that the pace of change facing their organisations had emerged as the third most prominent risk, while factors related to the pace and execution of digitalisation rounded out the top five emerging risks in this quarter’s survey.

“Unfortunately for most organisations, the most critical talent needs are also the most rare and expensive to hire for,” said Shinkman. “Adding to this challenge is the fact that ongoing disruption will keep business strategies highly dynamic, adding complexity to ongoing talent needs. Most businesses would benefit from investing in their current workforce’s skill velocity and employability, while actively developing risk mitigation plans for their most critical areas.”

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