Half of Australian workers say their employer doesn't make full use of their skills

Commonwealth Bank’s Innovation Lab in Sydney.

This article has been prepared by Business Insider in partnership with The Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The recent release of the latest FY19 Commonwealth Bank’s National Business Insights Report gave an insight into what Australia’s most innovative companies are doing to stay competitive, as well as the skills that these innovative companies, and all organisations, want from employees.

What’s clear is that there is more to innovation than just the technological side of the business.

The survey shows that perhaps in stark contrast to what many may assume, it’s the people and their soft skills which are being prioritised in pursuit of success and sustained competitiveness.

And if that is the case, then skills acquisition – both for companies and their employees – is a critical part of becoming innovative and in retaining the ability to face the challenges of a shifting business and economic environment while continuously improving.

Indeed, the survey shows a clear delineation about how employees feel their skills are being utilised based on whether or not they perceive their organisation as innovative.

Source: Commonwealth Bank National Business Insights Report FY19.

Put simply, the survey shows “only half of all employees claim their employer makes full use of their skills. This drops to 25% amongst employees that don’t work for innovative businessesi, presenting a great opportunity to leverage existing skills of the current workforce to drive positive change.”

What’s equally evident in the survey is that in the race toward innovation, there is a virtuous cycle of innovation begetting talent, begetting the ability to innovate.

“The research finds that 76% of employees surveyed are generally confident they have the skills that their organisation needs for the future. The percentage jumps to 86% among employees who work for an innovative company. This corresponds with the earlier finding that 70% of decision-makers believe their workforce will be able to support the organisation to adapt (74% in innovation-active companies),” the report says.

Critically the survey shows “employees working for innovative organisations have greater confidence in their existing skills,” which the report says, “may be due to their organisation’s approach to learning and development”.

That’s because employees of innovative companies are “significantly more likely to believe their development is continuous, aims to ensure they remain competitive and increases their capacity to create and innovate. They are also more likely to receive support in areas of workplace flexibility and well-being initiatives,” the report says.

Clearly this is where the virtuous cycle stems from. Critically though, it stems not from employee skills but from company actions.

Source: Commonwealth Bank National Business Insights Report FY19.

“Employee confidence in their own skills and capabilities does not vary greatly based on the level of innovation in the company they work for. This indicates that all organisations have talent, but many do not use the talent effectively,” the report finds.

While employee strengths in many areas present an opportunity for businesses to harness existing talent, there are areas where the workforce recognises the need for further development. This includes the knowledge-based skills relating to technology and sales and marketing, both areas where employees are keen to up-skill.

Now it is up to business owners and managers to access that talent – to both their own and their employees benefit – and support their workforce to develop the capabilities that put them in a better position to successfully innovate.

You can read the full report here.

i Where the article references innovative organisations from the employee survey please note that this was the surveyed employee’s own rating of whether or not they believe their organisation is innovative.

This article has been prepared by Business Insider solely for information purposes based on the results of an online survey conducted, between September and October 2018, and analysed by ACA Research on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank and is not to be construed as a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The information may be incomplete or not up to date and may contain errors and omissions. Any projections and forecasts are based on a number of assumptions and estimates, including future events and contingencies, which may be inaccurate. It must not be relied upon as financial product advice and is not Investment Research. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and if necessary, seek the appropriate professional, including taxation advice. We believe that this information is correct and any opinions, conclusions or recommendations are reasonably held based on the information available at the time of its compilation but no representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, is made or provided as to accuracy, reliability or completeness of any statement made. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian credit licence 234945.

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