The retail and consumer sectors are crying out for more creativity from its talent, according to an international study from global recruitment and talent management company, Futurestep. Creativity was cited as the competency in shortest supply, identified by more than one in five organisations (21 per cent), while a further 24 per cent named it as one of the skills that is most difficult to develop in new recruits.

As the economy braces itself for continuing instability, Futurestep’s study also named creativity as a critical ingredient for success. In response to the risk-averse culture that has emerged during the downturn, 21 per cent of respondents named creativity as among the most valuable competencies of retail sector talent. Yet, in a recent report on innovation in UK retail by Futurestep’s parent company Korn/Ferry, it was found that 70% of retailers have no formal budget for innovation.#

The Futurestep findings were revealed as part of its inaugural Global Talent Impact Study: Understanding the Race for Impact. Surveying over 1,500 HR professionals across five continents, the study, unveiled last month, took the temperature of six key sectors*, examining the competencies they are looking for in candidates and attitudes towards measuring the impact of talent.

Commenting on the creativity crisis, Jonathan Brown, EMEA RPO Operations Director at Futurestep said: “The creativity crisis that we are seeing in retail is being heightened by the economic climate. Budgets for innovation are squeezed, making creativity with limited resources even more vital.

“The economic situation, however, makes creativity increasingly vital as competition for consumer spend is greater and the expectation of those consumers is higher. Apple is a prime example, reinventing the store in an approach admired by competitors. Retailers that are attracting top creative talent by maintaining a focus on innovation are reaping the benefits by differentiating themselves and creating a competitive advantage, not only in store but across multiple channels including mobile.”

Futurestep’s global study found that customer focus is the most readily available competency among new retail hires, with a quarter of respondents (25%) naming this as easy to find. Functional and technical skills were also cited by 20 per cent of organisations as the easiest competency to develop in new recruits, skills that pose a sharp contrast to the complexities of creativity.

Mr Brown continues: “The challenge for the retail and consumer sectors now is to adopt the mechanisms to address it the creativity crisis. An organisation is only as good as the people within it, so without this critical component many businesses may well struggle to deliver upon the high demands of the road to recovery.”