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Karen Saukas

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How leaders can develop future-minded skills

Karen Saukas, EMEA Content Manager, from BetterUp examines why UK employees are struggling and what leaders can do to motivate their workforce.

For UK organisations, it’s never been harder to prepare for what’s next. Unpredictability in the market opened the door for disruption and talent loss – the Office for National Statistics reports that job vacancies in the UK are at a record high. 

The statistics are bleak, and HR leaders are rightfully worried. 

Gartner reveals that 91% of HR Leaders are increasingly concerned about employee turnover in the coming months. And a study by HR software company Personio confirms the concern. The research on 500 HR decision-makers and 2,000 employees in the UK and Ireland found that 38% of workers plan to switch jobs in six to 12 months. 

This turnover could cost up to £17bn for businesses.

UK leaders are struggling

Data on over 2,000 leaders in the UK shows that people are struggling to focus and strategically plan. This is not surprising considering the constant uncertainty workers faced in recent years. But poor concentration and planning affect mental health. Studies suggest that an inability to plan makes us feel powerless which, in turn, causes stress and emotional turmoil. 

People in the UK are suffering. Research by the Health and Safety Executive shows that in 2020 and 2021, work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of sick days.

The ripple effect of poor planning, focus, and stress are clear in UK workers’ low productivity and well-being scores. And the rapid shift to remote and hybrid work has left many managers navigating a new work landscape without any training or guidance. 

Hybrid work requires a new kind of leadership

Managing a hybrid team requires new skills and brings on new challenges. 

Research indicates that hybrid and remote workers are experiencing the lowest levels of belonging in years. On top of their daily responsibilities and objectives, leaders must now increase focus on their direct reports’ emotional well-being – ensuring they feel someone cares about them and their development – all while rarely or never seeing each other face-to-face. 

So how can HR leaders help employees strategise for the future, stagnate stress, and boost belonging, engagement, and productivity? The answer – develop front-line managers.

Managers make or break an organisation

Front-line managers are the most significant lever organisations can pull to keep people engaged and satisfied. If you’ve ever had a bad manager, you know the negative influence they yield. If you haven’t, you know that the desire to put in the extra effort is to support someone who supports you. 

When leaders are working at peak performance, so are their teams. Our research identified a leadership profile that’s tied to planning, alignment, and other critical skills for navigating the inevitable challenges leaders face – the future-minded leader. Teams led by future-minded leaders score 18% higher on performance and innovation metrics and 25% higher on agility. These teams are also 15% more resilient and 19% more engaged.

Developing future-minded leaders is good for people and for businesses. But not all managers face the same problems. 

Traditional training falls short

Each industry presents unique obstacles, and each company has specific constraints. This is one of the main reasons traditional leadership development falls short. A one-size-fits-all approach leaves leaders with little advice on how to apply training methods to personal challenges.

Training is also often a one-and-done activity or happens so rarely that the material doesn’t stick. The adage, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” applies when it comes to personal and professional development. Employees forget up to 75% of the information presented in traditional training programs.

Gartner’s research on HR leaders in 60 countries found that 24% believe they do not

effectively develop midlevel leaders. 

The need for developing top talent in a sustainable way at scale has never been greater.

Coaching delivers measurable results

With embedded assessments, HR leaders can track employee behaviour change over time. That behaviour change connects to critical success metrics for each organisation. And by using employee-behaviour-change data for comparison, companies can map leaders’ scores to industry benchmarks and identify areas for improvement.

In the end, when people feel their organisation cares, so do they. 1:1 coaching gives people the space and support to identify and develop their strengths and weaknesses. Coaching helps leaders build the foundational mindsets that are critical for success. Invest in your talent and give your people the opportunity to flourish and thrive. 

BetterUp Care™ brings mental fitness to an entire enterprise with a personalised team of experts ready to support each individual. 

BetterUp provides personalised 1:1 coaching to employees, and through embedded assessments, employee behaviour is accurately tracked and measured over time. To find out how BetterUp helped over 2,000 UK leaders with their development and transformation, check out Driving Impact with Coaching: a leadership study.

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