How to create workforce agility and maximize the potential of your people in all markets
A global pandemic. Business closures. A shift to remote working. The Great Resignation. Economic instability. It’s an exhausting list for anyone, with the last few years bringing with them more challenges for organizations, business leaders, and talent teams than ever before.
In a challenging — and changing — macroeconomic environment, businesses have had to make crucial workforce decisions without the visibility they need for those decisions to pay off. That visibility and understanding, particularly around the skills that your people hold, can create an agile workforce that can withstand instability and swift changes.
Workforce strategies need to be shifted to focus on agility and internal mobility, rather than rash talent decisions that can cost businesses down the line.
McKinsey research references a Fortune 500 technology company, which conducted a workforce planning initiative to map talent needs to specific business goals. This led to the decision to reskill more than 6,000 employees for new roles and upskill over 20,000 employees in existing roles, filling 80 percent of its identified skills gap.
It’s all about gathering an understanding of your people’s skills and potential to help build your talent alongside your organization.
You don’t know what you can’t measure
There’s no doubt that visibility into your entire workforce can help place your people where they need to be to perform best and be utilized according to your business needs at the time. But without the data, you’ll be stuck back at square one guessing the best course of action with nothing to measure.
Skills profiles, data, and insights of your entire talent ecosystem are key. That includes current employees, previous employees, job applicants, and any other contractors or contributors in your organization’s network. Insights should be robust and can include things such as known skills, likely skills, technology skills, behavior insights, skills adjacencies, bridging skills, and learning gaps.
This data will help make strategic mobility decisions that align your workforce to the current and future state of your organization.
We’ve all seen the results of market changes, economic shifts, and even unprecedented situations, and how not having visibility to mobilize your workforce can lead organizations to make sweeping decisions to lay off and have to rehire mass amounts of staff or lose impact and revenue when their staff aren’t utilized in the right roles for the market.
Workforce agility is all about empowering your business to withstand changes without losing your people. Understanding the skills in your workforce and where those skills can be best used to the maximum potential can reinforce your business and your people in even the most uncertain times.
“To link talent to value, the best talent should be shifted into critical value-driving roles… That means moving away from a traditional approach, in which critical roles and talent are interchangeable and based on hierarchy. Getting the best people into the most important roles requires a disciplined look at where the organization really creates value and how top talent contributes.”
Putting workforce agility and mobilization at the front of your workforce strategy
Having agility and mobilization at the forefront of your workforce strategy enables you to shift your people into the roles you need them to be in, and use the skills you require at that time to weather storms.
“To link talent to value, the best talent should be shifted into critical value-driving roles,” says McKinsey research. “That means moving away from a traditional approach, in which critical roles and talent are interchangeable and based on hierarchy. Getting the best people into the most important roles requires a disciplined look at where the organization really creates value and how top talent contributes.”
Business leaders and talent teams need workforce intelligence and visibility into the skills they have and where they can be transferred in order to create an agile workforce and move their people into the right role for the right time.
Inject a skills-based strategy into every decision you make
Speaking of skills visibility, optimizing your workforce starts with understanding the skills inside of it. With full visibility over the skills within your talent ecosystem, you can throw away the old-school method of looking at job titles and educational backgrounds, and take on a skill-based approach to how you find, retain, and reskill your workforce for the current and future state of your business.
In a world where over 70 million US workers filed for unemployment insurance from March to December 2020, skills-based matching — rather than industry experience, education credentials, or their last job title — can help fill critical roles.
McKinsey research shows that almost 90 percent of postings in growing industries including technology, healthcare, and business management require a bachelor’s degree, even though many of these jobs can and should be viable options for those without advanced education. Skills-based matching significantly expands the talent pool for all roles.
- According to McKinsey research, organizations that can reallocate talent in step with their strategic plans are more than twice as likely to outperform their peers. “HR should manage talent rigorously by building an analytics capability to mine data to hire, develop, and retain the best employees,” the report goes on to say, “HR business partners, who articulate these staffing needs to the executive management team, should consider themselves internal service providers that ensure high returns on human-capital investments.”
- Reejig’s Workforce Intelligence, tool provides leading indicators to show where your workforce is heading. There are automated skills profiles for everyone in the talent ecosystem. This helps you understand which departments are poised for growth, predict future skills shortages, and see exactly who you’re made of, broken down by skill set, role, department, gender, language, age, and ethnic background.
- Implementing a central nervous system like Workforce Intelligence technology can also help manage attrition and turnover. Gaining one central view of your people on a granular level helps people leaders understand the flow of talent and track diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics — leading to more considered, meaningful talent decisions.