The Policy People has identified five specific areas for which we believe businesses currently need specialist support; at least for the coming 12-24 months. Our assessment is broad-based, and derives from detailed conversations and research carried out across a range of sectors, with mid-to-senior level personnel, board members, and chairpersons.
Whilst we continue to undertake a wide range of projects for our clients, the issues detailed below - The Digital Skills Gap, IT-based Organisational Transformation, ESG Reporting, Gender Pay Gap Reporting and truly Independent Research - are currently proving top of the agenda in the UK and the EU.
Digital Skills Gap
The Policy People believes that a real and worsening problem is increasingly impacting organisations’ ability to grow. The so-called “Digital Divide” (also known as the digital skills gap) has two basic dimensions: Infrastructure (providing fibre and 5G access); and Human Capital (reducing the digital skills gap). The issue is that the gap is ever-widening as the development of trained people is not keeping pace with technological developments - in areas such as AI, big data analytics, cloud and robotics, for example.
Human capital is deemed an ‘intangible asset’ – but countries and organisations are only as good as their people: value investments made in their employees, consultant and suppliers. Three-quarters of organisations acknowledge that their lack of digital skills is adversely affecting performance and profitability – and that solving the issue is more complex and far-reaching than they had anticipated.
The Policy People offers support for organisations who are struggling to bridge the digital skills gap internally. Rather than implementing a short-term solution (such as quick-fix IT training or intensive online learning courses), our approach is to develop and implement a clear human capital development strategy that will ensure the business never again experiences constraints or compromises due to a lack of people with the necessary digital skills.
Some of the routes we might suggest – depending on the size, nature, industry and ambition of the organisation in question – might include:
Upskilling in-house learning and development departments so that they are as knowledgeable and capable as external training agencies
Implementing a life-long learning and development strategy (with the additional benefit of enhancing the employer proposition and increasing brand reputation in the hiring marketplace)
Expanding and accelerating career paths, and highlight role models
Searching for skilled individuals and outside the traditional talent pool
Communicating the digital priorities for the organisation
Maximise return-on-investment from consultants and freelancers by ensuring knowledge and skills are transferred back into the organisation.
IT-driven organisational transformation
The Policy People believes that many organisations need have yet to embrace some of the new, available technologies that will help them realise their potential and achieve new levels of sustainable success and resilience. IT has never had a more direct and immediate impact on the way products and services are designed, developed and delivered. For instance:
AI is already starting to have a massive impact on the way organisations connect with customers and suppliers
Blockchain, when used intelligently, can solve a range of problems including data storage and security, transactions, and supply chain
Big Data analytics and smart data collection will become the norm, and will be expected by customers and third-parties.
The Policy People offers support for organisations which are keen to explore how IT can optimise their operations: by developingand implementing a clear digital business strategy, underpinned by comprehensive risk and compliance evaluations and detailed communications strategies.
As a part of our support, The Policy People can identify and remove the most common blockers to IT transformations, including:
Inadequate strategy - poorly defined roadmap and milestones, which need to be achievable, manageable, and measurable
Poor leadership and lack of senior management alignment / ‘buy in’ – not many people have the experience of delivering complex, business critical programmes
Insufficient resourcing – real opportunity costs of maintaining existing business while transforming it
Human resource limitations – insufficient upfront attention given to training and development, as well as recruitment
Inadequate communications – technology / business interface is Kay, as is rapid escalation of potential problems and shortcomings.
ESG (Environmental & Social Governance) Reporting
The Policy People believes that organisations have a duty of care and a professional requirement to measure and report upon the activities they are undertaking from an environmental and a social perspective. It is no longer enough to allude to ‘commitment to carbon reduction’ or ‘community investment priorities’. Customers, shareholders and governments need (and deserve) to know how, where and when organisations are adjusting their operations in line with the urgent need to lower our carbon footprint.
Crucially, there needs to be a better means of reporting on progress against plans: one which documents, rates and mitigates risks and obstacles, and which assesses the reductive impact the organisation is making, year on year.
Naturally, there are significant challenges, and even the most determined and resourceful of businesses will require support. For example:
With no ‘standard’ ESG reporting mechanism, there is no level playing field. One firm’s ‘great’ may be another’s ‘adequate’
Not all organisations will have the same priorities: some ‘traditional’ ESG measurements may be irrelevant for certain types of business
Smaller, more recently-established businesses may not have the funds or the capability to implement a complex and far-reaching ESG strategy. Targets and goals must be achievable and appropriate by size and type of organisation
Larger organisations – typically those with a strong communications capability (in-house or externally) have an advantage when it comes to ESG communications: this balance needs to be addressed, with meaningful ESG communications available to all.
The Policy People offers organisations across sectors and industries a full package of support in implementing and maintaining a comprehensive ESG strategic and reporting capability. From phased plans underpinned by operational change through to measurement, communications and annual reviews – all conducted professionally and impartially – The Policy People can get underperforming ESG strategies back on track, and can create bespoke environmental and social plans that are attainable and measurable, regardless of the organisations size or region.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
The Policy People believes that organisations are yet to receive the required level of support for gender pay gap reporting; not only to help them comply with government guidelines, but to help them make pay gap reporting work for them – operationally, reputationally, and profitably.
Currently, any employer with a headcount of over 250 must comply with government regulations regarding gender pay gap reporting: in other words, they must annually report and publish specific figures about their gender pay gap. Employers with a headcount of less than 250 may do so – but for them, it is voluntary rather than obligatory. The requirements are both quantitative and qualitative. The figures are inarguable and generally speak for themselves. More important, in The Policy People’s opinion, is the narrative (currently optional, regardless of headcount), which should ideally set out:
Explanations for gender pay gap figures
Explanations for any differences/discrepancies
Workforce statistics (locally, regionally, nationally, part/flex workers, …)
Plans in place or under construction to reduce the gap in gender pay
In combination, the narrative and the figures are an incredibly powerful method of demonstrating the progress of an organisation, and if done well can have a highly positive impact on employer brand and reputation. This in turn can deliver significant benefits in terms of media coverage, customer loyalty, employee loyalty, and of course recruitment/applications.
The Policy People offers a comprehensive package to organisations of all sizes, covering both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of gender pay gap reporting. We can work seamlessly with HR departments and CAO/COO office, helping you prepare a report and accompany narrative that balances fair and frank reporting with detailed planning for a more equal pay framework in the future. Naturally, we can also help implement strategies to even up the pay balance, and undertake periodic assessments and reviews on your behalf.
The Policy People believes that evidence-based decision-making, founded on the best available research, will increase the likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes. Public and private sector organisations are missing out on essential research, and that this is hampering progress and growth.
Research can take a wide range of forms, and be used in a myriad ways: customer service; employee retention; product asservice development; supply chain logistics and management; market positioning; contractual arrangements; licensing; and much more. The problem is that research is typically done ‘off the side of the desk’, and can therefore be incomplete, inconsistent, insufficient or even irrelevant. Assigning research projects to junior employees or freelancers has its challenges (lack of deep understanding of the business/industry; lack of understanding of the key issues; lack of skills in deep research techniques; lack of presentation capabilities). The other option – using ‘ready-made’ research – can involve lengthy Internettrawls, and often results in research that is out-of-date or that features a demographic (region, age bracket, consumer type) that is irrelevant to the business in question, or that simply doesn’t cover all of the essential criteria and questions that the business needs in order to progress.
The Policy People offers a completely bespoke, independent research capability. We are able to undertake research projects of any depth or scale, and across a wide range of industries. Our selected research methods and our approaches to collecting and analysing data will be tailored to each particular project. For instance, it could involve primary and secondary data analyses in exploratory, descriptive, and causal manners: with surveys, interviews, focus groups, expert panels, and participant and non-participant observations. We can also review strategic documentation and business development plans against our research findings, to ascertain whether your roadmap ahead aligns to what your market needs and wants.