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Data Shows the Talent Crisis is Here - Results of the CPA study

29 november 23
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For years, there have been warnings that the decline in birth rates and workforce, as well as the increase in the elderly population, will be one of the biggest challenges we face - not only for societies but also for organizations. That time has come.

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The international CPA survey from consultancy firm BCG, WFPMA, the community of global HR Associations, and supported by shows that 72 percent of HR Professionals address people challenges and talent gaps as the most significant challenge they currently face. 

Other disruptions are likely to increase in frequency and severity, in addition to increasing talent gaps, less fluid talent markets, and the growing need for digital transformation and innovation—especially around AI.  

For us, it is interesting to see that so many concerns are shared across countries and regions, says Even Bolsted, president of EAPM and BOard Member of WFPMA.

The talent crunch is affecting us all and is in many ways “the next priorly announced crisis”, after Covid 19. The lack of available people also means that we cannot expect to fill our talent gap with people surplus from other countries or companies.

We need fresh thoughts on everything from organizational design to the use of digital tools and put effort into developing talent ourselves. Although we have known what was around the corner for decades, we have largely ignored what was coming and waited until the crisis is here. These findings demonstrate clearly that it is essential for us to act. Now.

The Covid-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of people management and forced organizations to define priorities clearly. Organizations all around the world quickly strengthened more flexible working models and also developed specific capabilities in employee health and safety.

The impact of the pandemic proved that people management functions are good at responding to acute stimuli and can boost their capabilities when they focus on a set of very focused topics. For example, health and safety is the number one topic in our survey regarding current capabilities, and flexible work schemes jump by 15 places in the capabilities ranking, said Philipp Kolo, a BCG partner and associate director, and a co-author of the report.

Looking at the Future

The bigger challenge involves looking ahead and planning for the mid-to long-term future. By shifting their focus to topics that yield results in the medium to long term, people management functions can build up the right capabilities to shape their company’s overall people agenda in a truly differentiating way.

Still, even with a major digital shift during the pandemic, digital technology is still a challenge for organisations worldwide. Digital technology is necessary to anticipate and solve the most prominent business challenges.

However, just 35 percent of HR professionals believe that their people management functions use relevant digital technologies. Further, only 30 percent agree that HR is using data and analytics to anticipate people challenges.

Important and weak capabilities

The respondents recognize that improvement on priority topics, such as strategic workforce planning, upskilling, and AI adoption, is essential to the continued success of their companies–but also that their current capabilities in those areas are very weak,” said Jens Baier, a BCG managing director and senior partner, and a co-author of the report.

  • Prioritizing proactive investment in digital and data capabilities is key to solving many of the challenges that limit the organizational impact that people functions can deliver, he continues.

  • The challenge with lack of people and talent gaps will emphasise the new ways of doing the work we do today.

  • Companies need to continuously prioritise developing the talent they already have, and upskilling and reskilling, in conjunction with effective talent acquisition, is critical to making this happen, said Anthony Ariganello, president of WFPMA.

  • It is important for companies to see digital transformation not as a goal, per se, but rather as an enabler for other goals such as greater efficiency, improved service levels, or a better employee experience. It is a foundational element of multiple people engagement topics.

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Main Findings

These are among the findings of a new report being released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA), titled Creating People Advantage 2023: Set the Right People Priorities for Challenging Times.

  • Only 35% Agree That Their Company’s People Management Function is Using Relevant Digital Technologies 

  • Just 30% Say That HR is Using Data and Analytics to Anticipate People Challenges

  • New Report from BCG and WFPMA Finds That People Management Functions Must Shift Their Focus to Prioritising Topics That Are Most Important to Future and Long-Term Performance 

Media Contacts:, 

BCG/Globally: Eric Gregoire:  

WFPMA/EAPM: Even Bolstad — president EAPM and board member WFPMA  

About Boston Consulting Group 

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most critical challenges and capture their most significant opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach that benefits all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact. 

  Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.  

About The World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA)  

The WFPMA is a global network of professionals in people management,  Its members are predominantly the continental federations which are made up of more than 90 national human resource associations representing over 660,000 people management professionals. The biggest of these continental associations is the European Association for People Management (EAPM), which consists of and 33 other European HR associations.