As the coronavirus upends economies and industries, organizations that want to survive must have an agile and resilient workforce. A new Aon survey looks at these crucial skills and how organizations are cultivating them.
COVID-19 has transformed the way most of us work. But what are the key changes that will help organizations stay competitive? A new survey from Aon looks at how businesses will be able to thrive during times of transition.
“There’s a lot of discussion today about what the future of work will look like and how companies can get there,” said Brooke Green, partner and practice leader, employee rewards in Aon’s Rewards Solutions business. “However, we think there is a better question for companies to ask themselves. Namely, ‘How do I build a more agile and resilient workforce with the capacity to adapt quickly to new business needs and disruptions?’ In other words, instead of trying to predict the future, let’s focus on preparing ourselves for potential challenges.”
“Accelerating Workforce Agility and Resilience”[registration] asked employers about workforce agility, which it defines as “the ability to quickly move employees into new roles or areas of the organization to support changing business needs.” Most believed agility among employees was crucial, with 84 percent saying it was either very or extremely important. Unfortunately, only 39 percent viewed their current workforce as very or extremely agile. “Therefore, it is clear we have a widespread workforce agility gap to address,” Green said.
Given that gap, there are ways for organizations to help their staff become more agile. “When asked to assess 10 key factors needed to build and maintain an agile workforce, the ability to attract and retain diverse employees and create an inclusive culture ranked near the top,” Green said.
The report notes that a diverse workforce can help infuse organizations with agility. Another skill that goes along with workforce agility is workforce mobility, which is “moving people vertically and laterally through an organization,” with 73 percent finding this either extremely or very important.
“At an organizational level, I would focus on a creating a culture that rewards mobility and then deploy systems and processes that facilitate mobility,” Green said. “For example, does your company champion people who take intelligent risks, which can include going on an international assignment or moving from one job function to another? Do you have a strong job architecture system in place that provides employees with visibility into both vertical and horizontal career paths through your organization?”
Mobility, she says, is something organizations can implement by giving employees the opportunity to make it happen. “Often, accelerating talent mobility isn’t about finding people with the right skills to move around in your organization; it is about making it easy for people to define their own path and seek out opportunities within a welcoming structure created by the company,” Green said.
The survey also looked at organizations coping with the pandemic and classified them into three categories: reacting and responding to the pandemic, recovering from the pandemic by returning to the workplace and updating business goals, or reshaping their business plans by creating or pivoting to new products and deploying new talent strategies. Only 24 percent of respondents had moved to the reshaping business phase, while most—67 percent—were in the recovery phase.
Green noted that some companies were working simultaneously in multiple categories, and that can work well, with the right employees. “These companies might label themselves as sitting in the middle of our framework, but they are actually working across every stage of framework simultaneously,” Green said. “Additionally, this is where we return to the concepts of workforce agility and resilience―if you boost these attributes within your workforce, you will move faster.”
How has employee agility benefited your association through the pandemic? Share in the comments.