Building an Agile Workforce: Strategies for Adapting to Change

Building an Agile Workforce: Strategies for Adapting to Change

Key Takeaways:

  • An agile workforce is highly adaptable to change, possessing traits like flexibility, proactivity, resilience, and continuous competence improvement.
  • A workforce adept at navigating change can lead to organizational flexibility, a highly skilled workforce, and improved organizational performance, including customer satisfaction and financial results.
  • Success in creating an agile culture hinges on hiring and retaining employees who support agility goals, emphasizing the critical role of employee mindset and behavior.

Given the fast-moving pace of business, organizations today must proactively build a workforce equipped to thrive in times of change. From attracting adaptable talent to fostering a culture of continuous learning, every recruitment decision becomes an opportunity to reinforce the organization's commitment to agility and resilience.

Building an agile workforce requires employees with the mindset and skills to embrace change rather than view it as a disruption. By attracting and hiring these individuals and creating an environment that encourages them to stay, the organization can become more productive and capable of reaching its strategic goals.


What is an Agile Workforce and Why is it Important?

When an organization possesses an agile workforce, its employees are highly adaptable to change. According to the Agile Business Consortium, agile employees possess the following traits:

  • Flexibility: Employees are comfortable adapting their behavior to accommodate planned and unplanned changes.
  • Proactivity: Employees anticipate changes and outcomes and adjust their behaviors accordingly.
  • Resilience: Employees “bounce back” and maintain performance amid change.
  • Competence: Employees learn continuously and master new skills to help them adapt to change.

Possessing an agile workforce can mean the difference between falling into a performance rut and achieving results that outpace the competition. The many possible benefits include: 

  • Organizational flexibility: When employees are empowered to generate new ideas and strategies for managing change, the organization becomes better at navigating tough times, including restructurings, layoffs, and economic downswings.
  • A highly skilled workforce: Employees who embrace continuous improvement and are open to learning new skills make it easier for the organization to achieve its reskilling and upskilling goals.
  • Organizational performance: A McKinsey study found that enterprise agility can help organizations improve customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance, resulting in a 20-30% improvement in financial results.

agile workforce


How to Build an Agile Workforce Through Recruitment

Despite the benefits of an agile workforce, many organizations have more work to do to cultivate one. In fact, a Bain & Company survey found that only 10% of business leaders strongly agreed that their company attracted and retained the talent necessary to support their agility goals.

As with many strategic business objectives, success or failure in creating an agile culture and organization comes down to employee mindset and behavior. Therefore, hiring and retaining employees who support the organization’s goals for agility is critical. There is much to gain by doing so. Gartner found that organizations with agile recruitment practices can realize a measurable reduction in cost per hire and time to hire and an increase in recruiter productivity.

Here are five ways talent acquisition teams can achieve those outcomes:


1. Develop a Brand Reputation for Agility

A strong employer brand is key to any successful recruitment program. To attract individuals with an agile mindset, it’s critical to cultivate a brand reputation that highlights the organization's commitment to agility and innovation. Doing so will help prospective applicants identify a strong fit and visualize themselves as employees. 

Candidates today want to work in organizations with cultures that align with their values and work style. Organizations should capitalize on this by presenting an employee value proposition (EVP) that helps employees see how their agile mindset and capabilities will be valued. 

Recruitment marketing teams can highlight agility in their company culture and EVP by:

  • Showcasing success stories of employees who have thrived amid change and uncertainty
  • Describing opportunities to demonstrate agility in job postings
  • Crafting job ads that speak to the organization’s desire to hire highly adaptable and resilient employees

Tip: A compelling employer brand attracts people who share the company’s values, but it must offer an up-to-date, authentic view of the organization’s culture, vision, and values. If it’s been a while since branding activities have been updated, it’s probably time for an employer brand audit and refresh.

employer brand strategies


2. Adopt Agile Recruitment Processes and Solutions

Companies must have efficient recruitment systems and processes in place to attract individuals with an agile mindset. After all, it will be much harder to attract and hire these individuals with cumbersome, manual processes that make the candidate experience disjointed and unorganized.

A critical first step in creating an agile recruitment function is evaluating the hiring process and identifying possible areas of improvement. However, instead of attempting to become a highly agile recruitment function overnight, it’s better to prioritize areas that need the most attention. Priorities may include streamlining the application process with tools such as easy apply, shortening feedback timelines during the interview process, and identifying better ways to keep applicants engaged throughout the hiring process.

With a combination of process improvement and technology solutions, recruitment teams can become more effective in attracting agility-minded employees. Examples include:

Tip: Programmatic job advertising is an excellent solution for boosting data-driven decision-making and becoming more nimble when allocating recruitment advertising dollars. 


3. Implement Skills-based Candidate Screening and Assessment 

A surefire way of identifying and attracting agile talent is understanding the skills and capabilities that make them unique, such as:

  • Creativity: Candidates have shown the ability to find new solutions and ways of overcoming challenges
  • Emotional intelligence: Candidates demonstrate strong listening skills and respect other perspectives and points of view
  • Willingness to learn: Candidates willing to adapt to new digital tools and continuously add new technologies to their skillset

Once recruitment teams understand the skills and capabilities of agile-minded candidates, it will be easier to implement processes designed to attract them. These processes include highlighting desired skills in job descriptions and on the company career site, encouraging referrals from agile employees, and utilizing skills-based interviewing methods. When combined with employee learning and development programs and career pathing support for existing employees, these practices can help organizations build a workforce capable of staying ahead of industry trends and adapting swiftly to change.

Tip: Skills-based hiring helps organizations consider more than college degrees and candidate years of experience and expand the talent pool with a diverse mix of knowledge and capabilities. With these new skills circulating in the workforce, organizations become better at anticipating and navigating market changes.

talent acquisition


4. Monitor Industry Trends and Competitor Activities

In addition to implementing agile recruitment practices and attracting candidates with an agile mindset, organizations should stay informed of industry trends, competitor activities, and emerging technologies that help company leaders and employees anticipate and adapt to change. For example, AI and machine learning continue to help organizations predict and respond to change with greater speed and accuracy. 

In recruitment, the following trends and solutions will improve organizations' ability to attract and retain target candidates: 

  • Data visualization tools that enable data-driven decision-making
  • Employee-generated content and employee ambassador activities
  • More personalized candidate messaging via text messaging and chatbot technologies


5. Establish a Continuous Feedback Loop

Talent acquisition teams work best when they are fully aligned with business strategy and understand the hiring needs of each department and team. Therefore, it’s critical to establish an effective feedback loop between recruitment and other departments. 

The following actions will enable hiring managers, recruiters, and recruitment marketing professionals to refine recruitment strategies for maximum impact:

  • Regularly soliciting input from hiring managers about the skills most valuable for their open positions
  • Sharing interviewing and hiring best practices to help hiring managers become more effective hiring partners
  • Providing managers with hiring and retention metrics that help them understand the effectiveness of specific hiring tactics
  • Empowering recruiters to be proactive talent advisors to hiring managers and departments

Another source of recruitment feedback comes from the data and analytics tools the recruitment team uses to track critical metrics such as time to hire, candidate quality, cost per hire, and applicant conversion rate. These tools provide real-time feedback on job ad performance, applicant engagement, and labor market benchmarks.


Build a More Agile Workforce

Today’s fast-paced business environment makes it critical for organizations to hire individuals energized by the challenge of navigating change and uncertainty. The resilience and flexibility these individuals bring to the workplace helps organizations remain productive and competitive.

Optimizing the hiring process is an excellent place to start when building a more agile workplace, as recruitment teams can access several solutions and technologies to attract the ideal agile-minded candidate.

The team at Recruitics is here to help! Recruitics’ recruitment marketing and talent engagement solutions help organizations attract candidates that align with organizational culture and values, so the organization can navigate change, innovate, and grow.

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