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Almost half of businesses underutilising staff skills

Close to half of Australian workers believe their employer is underutilising their skills, but most businesses and employees alike see their organisation as more adaptable than their competitors, according to a new report.

user iconAdam Zuchetti 26 March 2019 Corporate Counsel
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CBA’s FY19 Business Insights Report looked at how Australian businesses are responding to threats and opportunities in a changing marketplace, interviewing 2,747 “business owners, decision-makers and managers” as well as 2,422 employees working in organisations with two or more employees.

It found that virtually all employers (93 per cent) are looking to upskill their workforces through training and development programs. Soft skills, such as adaptability and flexibility, as well as communications, were found to be the most popular, edging out technology skills.

Yet 44 per cent of the workers polled suggest this training could be considerably more effective for helping them meet the needs of their day-to-day jobs.


Despite this, both employees and businesses rate their own adaptability to change higher than that of their competitors, and by almost identical margins (66 per cent of businesses and 65 per cent of employees rate their own organisation’s ability to adapt as good or very good; 55 per cent of businesses and 56 per cent of employees say the same about their competitors).

“Innovation-active” businesses were more likely to forecast revenue growth in excess of 6 per cent next year than competitors (53 per cent versus 41 per cent), and had significantly higher rates of employee job satisfaction (80 per cent versus 32 per cent) and likely retention of employee (65 per cent versus 48 per cent).

According to the report, “innovation-active” businesses are ones which delivered a new or significant improvement to at least one of four core areas or their operations: products, processes, marketing, organisational.

It follows separate research by IdeaSpies Enterprise, released exclusively to My Business, that identified the bottlenecks and reporting problems inhibiting the uptake of innovative ideas from workers to their employers and managers.

“While there has been a focus among policymakers on improving Australia’s education system to boost innovation and competitiveness, businesses are also playing a crucial role in developing a skilled Australian workforce that can withstand a changing operational environment,” said Adam Bennett (pictured), CBA’s group executive of business and private banking.

“It’s critical businesses ensure their workforce is equipped with the skills they need to capitalise on commercial opportunities and there is a clear opportunity to tap into and nurture latent capabilities within their existing workforce.”

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