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Almost half of businesses underutilising staff skills

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
18 March 2019 2 minute readShare
Adam Bennett

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

The major bank’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.”

Other key findings:

  • 54 per cent of employees believe they work for an innovative business, compared with 20 per cent who disagree and 26 per cent who sit on the fence.
  • Medium-sized businesses with turnover of between $20 million and $100 million, or with 20 to 100 employees, were deemed to be the most “innovation-active”, with larger organisations close behind. Small businesses with $500,000 to $2 million turnover or between 2 and 19 employees were deemed the least innovative.
  • Businesses in South Australia and the Northern Territory had the highest rates of innovation activity (73 per cent), followed by those in Queensland (63 per cent), Victoria and Tasmania (60 per cent) and WA (56 per cent). Those in NSW and the ACT were least innovative nationwide (51 per cent).
  • When it came to investment in tech, cloud technology was by far the biggest, with 47 per cent of employers implementing or trialling this. Other types of technology attracting investment were the Internet of Things (IoT) on 19 per cent, renewable energy (13 per cent), followed by 3D printing and wearable devices (both at 12 per cent).

Source: Commonwealth Bank FY19 Business Insights Report.

Almost half of businesses underutilising staff skills
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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