Less than half of UK businesses implementing talent development programmes according to the study by Cranfield School of Management and recruitment outsourcing specialist Capital Consulting.

Lack of financial investment and insufficient support from senior management are cited as the main factors.

While 60 per cent of the businesses surveyed said that talent management – the strategies and practices needed to define, identify, develop, attract and retain those deemed to have skills valuable to an organisation – is essential to a businesses bottom line, only 41pc were strategically managing their star talent.

Dr Emma Parry, research fellow at Cranfield School of Management, said the report should serve as a “wake-up call” to employers at a time when mounting global competition and the changing demographics mean the need for strategic management of human capital has never been greater.

She added: “The ‘disconnect’ between what senior managers are saying and what they are doing is very worrying. It’s clear that, in the main, their actions have not caught up with their rhetoric when it comes to talent management.”

To help businesses meet this urgent challenge, the report includes a framework for best practice talent management.

Jeremy Tipper, group managing director of Capital Consulting, said: “Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the growing importance of attracting the best available talent from the market place but often fall short when it comes to following through on development, retention and allowing talented people to reach their potential.

“The changing nature of UK and global economies and the demographics that lead to a shrinking talent pool entering the workforce will really begin to bite over the next three to five years. Acquiring and keeping people is already very important and will only become more so.

“How good you are at managing talent will become a crucial factor in whether you are a winner or a loser in terms of competitive advantage.”

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