Press releases

Deloitte survey: UK companies unprepared for digital disruption in workforce

28 February 2017

  • Majority of HR and business leaders are not ready to build “the organisation of the future”;
  • 42 per cent have implemented robotics, cognitive and AI technologies;
  • However, only 16 per cent are ready to manage a workforce where these technologies and people work side by side;
  • Recruitment, careers and learning rise up the list of priorities in 2017.

Just 13 per cent of UK companies say they are ready to respond to digital disruption and create “the organisation of the future”. This is despite 88 per cent believing this has become a priority. The findings come from the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, which tracks the top trends shaping the agenda for HR and business leaders.*

However, while UK companies believe they are ill-prepared for the change brought by digital disruption, this has not stopped many of them from embracing disruptive technologies. 42 per cent report that they have adopted robotics, cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within all or parts of their workforce. Another 42 per cent are running pilots in certain areas of their organisation. But only 16 per cent say they are ready to manage a workforce with people, robots and AI working side by side.

Anne-Marie Malley, UK human capital leader at Deloitte, explains: “UK organisations clearly see the importance of preparing for the workplace of the future. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and is rewriting the rules of work. But it’s not just an issue for HR. The challenges mean that leaders right across the organisation must find new ways to motivate, manage and engage the 21st century workforce.”

Recruitment and employee experience
Once the sole domain of HR, “talent acquisition” – the process of finding and hiring staff – now stands as one of the top concerns for 87 per cent of UK business leaders. As it rises up the corporate agenda, companies are increasingly turning to technology to help with their recruitment. In the next three to five years almost half (45 per cent) are planning to use cognitive computing or AI in their recruitment processes, such as applicant screening.

Once recruited, companies say they are struggling to provide a good “employee experience” when it comes to culture, engagement, rewards and work offered. Only 18 per cent describe their companies as ‘excellent’ at building a differentiated employee experience.

Careers and learning
“Careers and learning” – including how employees’ professional development and progression is managed – has risen from seventh to third place on UK leaders’ priority lists this year. 84 per cent of UK executives rank the trend as ‘important’ or ‘very important’. However, only 33 per cent consider themselves ready to tackle the issue.

74 per cent of UK organisations consider themselves to be weak at advanced digital learning solutions such as gaming, video and simulations. 59 per cent state they are weak at providing mobile learning programmes, which are vital to ensure people can learn in a way that suits their lifestyle.

Looking to the future, 34 per cent of UK companies are planning on increasing their investment in HR over the next 12 months, with the majority of that investment expected to be targeted at staff career development of some form.

Malley concludes: “HR and business leaders are facing a huge number of challenges from the digital age, but these aren’t going to disappear. Technology will increasingly disrupt the world of work and companies need to be ready for it. For HR specifically, this presents an enormous opportunity for the function to show leadership. Right now though, less than 40 per cent of HR professionals rate their capabilities as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ overall. If HR leaders want to have real influence in the new world of work, now is the time to step up.”


Notes to editors

*About Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report
The 2017 survey is Deloitte’s largest and most extensive to date, with input from more than 10,400 business and HR leaders across 140 countries. 215 UK respondents were involved in this year’s survey. See the full global report here.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

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