How do you accelerate workforce agility in turbulent times?

Douglas Edmonds Douglas Edmonds Head of Sales and Solutions, APAC, KellyOCG

I met with six clients in Queensland, Australia a few weeks ago and all six were in the process of restructuring. It was a similar story at a recent HR forum and again at a procurement conference in Singapore. Agility, change, adaptability; they are all words I’m hearing again and again from clients, colleagues, and industry commentators, and it reflects a business environment that feels anything but certain. The International Monetary Fund predicts a drop in growth across APAC to 4.3% during 2023 compared to 6.5% in 2021 and an average of 5.5% across the last twenty years.

Of course, APAC represents a huge and diverse business ecosystem that is home to distinct cultures and economic realities. However, uncertainty seems to be a connecting thread across geographies right now, and senior leaders everywhere are looking to dial up workforce agility to ensure they can navigate rising inflation and global economic downturn.

But what does an agile workforce look like? How do you nurture individual agility? And what tools and technology do organisations need to invest in to ensure they are flexible enough to weather incoming storms? In this blog, I share three ways organisations can begin to build the foundation for long-term agility.

Reassess your workforce mix

Finding the right labor mix has never been more important – an organisation’s blend of contract, freelance, and permanent talent, and even automated tools, can define how well (and how fast) a business responds to change. But you can’t be truly agile without an effective contractor base. Growing the contingent workforce can empower leaders to streamline quickly in leaner times and scale up rapidly to respond to new opportunities. We’re now seeing an increased demand for contingent labour in markets that have traditionally preferred permanent talent, as leaders look for ways to bake adaptability into their business model. It can also be useful to reassess the location of key talent – do you need 10 lawyers sat in Sydney when you could have 5 in Sydney and 5 in Bangalore? Not only does this approach offer greater efficiency and value for money, but it can also help organisations to grow their local market presence and knowledge.

Develop individual agility to power workforce agility

Lots of business leaders think about agility from a structural or macro perspective, and this is an essential part of shaping an agile workforce. But if you want to unlock true adaptability, it needs to be baked into your culture. People who are comfortable with change, feel empowered by new challenges, and can respond quickly to new environments are invaluable in an agile workforce, and these skills should be sought out and nurtured. It’s also vital to ensure the search for agility doesn’t lead to burnout. Asking workers to do more with less repeatedly can lead to them being overstretched and exhausted. A true, long-term, agile workforce strategy must work for a company and its people.

Choose the right strategic workforce partners

Transforming workforce agility across a global business is rarely something you can do alone, and this means it’s crucial to choose consultants and strategic partners who understand your world, your business environment, and your people. Technology that increases internal workforce visibility is a great place to start, as it’s tough to power effective workforce transformation without a clear understanding of where you are today. Analytics tools that allow for further future insights and future planning are also becoming increasingly valuable in an uncertain world. At KellyOCG, we help global organisations to understand and effectively transform their workforces to meet business goals and increase agility to navigate complex challenges. But we’re much more than consulting partners; with decades of experience implementing and managing workforce solutions across APAC, we have a huge depth of knowledge and experience at our fingertips.

Workforce adaptability in APAC is nonnegotiable right now – either you get agile or you get left behind. However, this environment of intense change also opens up huge opportunities for innovation and those leaders and organisations who push boundaries now may reap greater rewards in the future. If you’d like to chat about workforce agility or find out more about the ways KellyOCG supports organisations in your region, drop me a line – I’d love to connect.


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