Business management

Talent: are you fit for the future?

The fight for skills is a challenge. Don’t fall behind your competitors – adopt a great talent strategy today to get your business fit for the future.

Recruit and retain for a competitive edge

Future Fit businesses are laser-focused on securing the best talent, our latest research shows. They know what skills they will need as their business grows and are constantly thinking about how and where to find them. 

Business leaders regularly describe their people as their greatest asset, but organisations are having to work harder than ever to recruit and retain talent. Our latest research identifies a select group of Future Fit businesses that stand out in this regard – and in a highly competitive labour market, these companies are outperforming the competition as a result.

Our research suggests:

  • Future Fit businesses are more than twice as likely to have clear policies on flexible working, compared with the average we surveyed 
  • 68% conduct exit interviews when staff leave
  • 67% provide at least 75 hours of training for every employee each year


“It’s about recognising what will attract the talent you want to your business,” says Jonathan Barrow, our Head of National Sectors.”

It’s about recognising what your people have to offer – embracing a culture where leaders welcome the fact that the best ideas can come from anywhere in the organisation.

Jonathan Barrow
Head of National Sectors

Our research, based on a survey of 1,000 UK businesses across 10 sectors, underlines this argument. It identifies talent as one of the four crucial pillars on which Future Fit businesses rely to drive their performance (alongside sustainability, technology, and supply chain). Future Fit businesses are determined to do everything they can to secure people with the skills they need – and to keep these people for as long as possible.

It’s an approach geared towards driving long-term, sustainable growth, but this focus on talent is already helping to deliver outperformance. Almost half the Future Fit businesses in our research (45%) have managed to grow significantly over the past 12 months, more than twice as many as their peers.

How to define the talent leaders

Employers increasingly recognise that recruitment and retention isn’t simply a question of offering more competitive compensation packages than their rivals. But it is the Future Fit businesses that are thinking hardest about the value proposition they offer to their employees.

Our research defines Future Fit businesses on talent as those that are seeking to provide the richest and most engaged employee experience. These businesses recognise, for example, that:

  • Staff are looking for professional development opportunities – 67% of Future Fit businesses provide at least 75 hours of training for every employee each year (compared to 32% on average).
  • Future Fit businesses are also focused on understanding why people leave – 68% conduct exit interviews, compared with only 35% overall.

Wellbeing is also a key focus for the Future Fit. Almost nine in ten (86%) offer employees wellbeing support, against 68% overall. Two-thirds (66%) use devices such as staff surveys to understand what their staff feel about working for the organisation, whereas only 27% of businesses overall operate this way.

“Employers competing for talent have to offer a very good working experience,” Jonathan explains. 

Different people have different demands, so it’s important to be balanced and flexible, but the opportunity is to build an engaged workforce that is constantly learning and developing.

How to get fit for the future

Across all the businesses in our research, only 45% say they have mapped the skills they require over the medium term and identified how they will fill talent gaps, whether internally or with external recruitment.

Without understanding what is going to be needed from the workforce in the years ahead, businesses could find it difficult to accurately assess the type of candidates they will need – and therefore how to appeal to their target employees from a recruitment and retention perspective. Future Fit businesses show the way here.

  • Identify future skills 

82% of Future Fit businesses say they understand how their long-term strategy will shape the skills they need in three to five years’ time; only 68% of businesses overall share this confidence. 

  • Appeal to target employees

Similarly, 66% of Future Fit businesses say they won’t seek to recruit and retain simply by focusing on remuneration, while only 52% of all businesses agree.

  • Build on engagement

More than three-quarters of Future Fit businesses (76%) believe that giving employees more input into strategic decisions has improved the performance of their company.

Time is running out to close the gap, Jonathan warns. “You have to find the right balance in your offer,” he says. “But businesses not able to attract diverse, talented and engaged people are going to be left behind.”

Three key steps to success with talent:

  • Map the skills your business is likely to need in the medium to longer term so you can identify the type of candidates you will need to attract – then focus on what will persuade such candidates to work with your business.
  • Build a value proposition for employees with broad appeal – flexible benefits packages enable employees to choose the features that are most important to them.
  • Capitalise on engagement – seek the views and ideas of your entire workforce and ensure everyone is recognised for the contribution they make.


Has your organisation implemented the following capabilities, or does it plan to do so in future?

% of respondents that selected 'extensive implementation'

Create a sustainable business strategy for the long-term

Despite the pressures of today, there are opportunities to innovate or grow. We’re here to help you prepare for tomorrow with the capability and confidence to act today.

Discover more ideas here.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

scroll to top