Accenture's High Performance Workforce Study, which surveyed more than 250 senior executives in the United States, Europe and Australia, found that only one in seven (14 per cent) of respondents believe that the overall skill level of their organisations' entire workforce is industry leading.
Furthermore, just one in five said that the vast majority of their employees understand their companies' strategy and what's needed to be successful in their industry.
Respondents also reported that even functions they consider critical - sales, customer service, finance and strategic planning - are not performing as strongly as they should.
In fact, among those who rated these functions among the top three, just a quarter awarded the highest rating to the performance of their sales function, while under a third provided the same rating to their customer service, finance and strategic planning functions.
"The lack of essential skills is a vital issue for senior managers," said Peter Cheese, global managing partner in Accenture's Human Performance practice.