New Brandon Hall Group Research Addresses the Unrealized Potential of Competencies

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Most corporations use competencies to improve performance. But new Brandon Hall Group research shows competency planning and management are in their infancy in the majority or organizations, and that lack of investment and automation is limiting effectiveness.

Brandon Hall Group, the leading independent Human Capital Management research and analyst firm, has released findings of its 2017 Competency Planning and Management Study, which shows a huge opportunity for organizations that want to improve their talent management.

“Competency management is the pulse of performance improvement – at the individual and the organizational levels. It is also a central tenet of workforce planning, learning and development, and talent management,” Brandon Hall Group CEO Mike Cooke said. “Despite the strategic importance of competencies, many organizations in all industries are struggling with making competencies effective and to align them with business goals.”

The research shows that organizations target competencies for critical initiatives, including improving organizational and individual performance, building future capabilities, identifying competency gaps for workforce planning, identifying development priorities, building a leadership pipeline, and improving employee engagement and retention.

The research shows that about two-thirds of organizations utilize workforce competencies. But, on average, only 33% of organizations using them believe they are effective in meeting business goals. The research reveals strategies for improvement, including:

  • Competency planning and management are among the most-underfunded talent management processes. 56% of organizations spend 3% or less of their talent management budgets on competencies. But organizations that spend 10% or more of their budgets on competency management are 76% more likely than other organizations to rate their top competency objectives as effective.
  • Automation is critical because fully developing and aligning competencies is complex and time-intensive, especially in larger organizations. Fully automated organizations are 79% more likely than other organizations to rate their top competency objectives as effective.
  • Organizations that utilize fully developed competency frameworks are almost three times as likely to have competencies aligned with business goals as other organizations.

“In each of our talent management research studies, we analyze the maturity of talent processes. We found that – by far – competency planning and management is the least mature of the talent management processes,” said Claude Werder, VP/Research Operations and Principal HCM Analyst, who directed the research. “We found that 64% or organizations surveyed are at Level 1 or Level 2 maturity, meaning they have an ad-hoc process for competency development or are still working to define competencies for critical positions and job roles and don’t have a fully developed competency model to drive their efforts. Competency planning and management is definitely still in its infancy in a majority of organizations.”

The study included 449 global responses from 57 countries and 36 industries, including 39% from outside of North America. The research was conducted in April and May 2017.

Survey results are available in DataNow™, Brandon Hall Group’s online research tool, where responses can be filtered by company size, revenue, geography and organizational performance. DataNow™ is available through subscription or through membership to Brandon Hall Group.

Two webinars are scheduled to explore the research in more depth. Registration is available at

About Brandon Hall Group:
Brandon Hall Group is a HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights around key performance areas, including Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and HR/Workforce Management.

With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering world-class research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is focused on developing research that drives performance in emerging and large organizations, and provides strategic insights for executives and practitioners responsible for growth and business results.

At the core of our offerings is a Membership Program that combines research, benchmarking and unlimited access to data and analysts. The Membership Program offers insights and best practices to enable executives and practitioners to make the right decisions about people, processes, and systems, coalesced with analyst advisory services which aim to put the research into action in a way that is practical and efficient.

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