Uncovering HR’s role in delivering organizational agility

David Perring

Director of Research

Even before the pandemic, "increasing business agility" was consistently one of the top four challenges for HR professionals.

In fact, for the past six years, respondents to the Fosway HR Realities Research have consistently rated business agility as a major challenge. Only "organizational profitability & performance" and "improving customer satisfaction" have ranked more highly in that time.

Unsurprisingly, business agility peaked in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as most organizations pivoted to new ways of working.

The role of organizational agility today

Agility matters to organizations but facilitating it is a relatively new focus for HR teams. It requires innovation in organizational culture, a new wave of HR thinking and innovation in "people intelligence" through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This opens up new possibilities in how organizations can optimize and energize their people.

Without AI, it’s difficult to see how HR teams can enable agility. That’s because agility is powered by technology that automatically connects the workforce to opportunities, projects and roles using insights into people’s expertise and capabilities.

This concept may not sound revolutionary, but it is because the level of automation to make this work effectively and with agility is profound.

The power of AI in HR

AI means that individuals don’t need to complete time-consuming skills assessments in order to land their next project or role.

The AI automatically infers skills from an individual’s work history, CV, job roles, project work and certifications. No one has to manually trawl through lists of capabilities and match people to the skills required for available projects, gigs and longer-term work opportunities.

The AI matches people to work and pushes opportunities automatically. It’s frictionless. It’s fast. It's transparent.

Shop at your own talent marketplace

Talent and opportunity marketplaces enable organizations to identify and match internal talent to new opportunities at the speed of business rather than at the speed of manual intervention — which has historically characterized HR’s approach to talent mobility through succession planning.

Here the only human intervention is to upload gigs, projects and emerging roles and then let the software start to learn and refine its matching.

In the age of machine learning

Over time machine learning improves recommendations for work, learning and mentoring opportunities based on a number of factors, including skills feedback and the individual’s purpose, career aspirations and personal growth goals.

Where there are business priorities and skills gaps the organization can reach out directly to individuals and proactively engage them in the future direction of the organization and where their skills development fits in with that. Where a step up in skills is required, organizations can help show individuals how growing their skills can improve their employability.

The intelligence in the software can be a catalyst to make sure that the best people are working on the right projects. It also ensures that people are aligned to areas of innovation and business adaptation and at the speed of business — which is at the root of being agile.

Easily place the right people on the right projects

In the past, this would be a slow and laborious process, but innovation in HR, work and the workforce mean that this is now a reality. And this new reality is showing some impressive potential; some organizations are already talking about the ease with which employees can find internal opportunities to grow their career while at the same time reducing employee attrition. For example:

  • In their study of 32 million profiles, LinkedIn showed that people who had an internal move were more 20% likely to still be working at their employer after three years.
  • A large employer with 130,000 employees was able to release 45,000 hours of free work during the pandemic in three months by connecting workers to available projects.

HR in the future of work

These emerging case studies are proving it’s possible to energize and optimize the hybrid workforce and achieve impressive results. It's possible to create a compelling talent experience that unleashes potential, transforms businesses and drives employee advocacy for the hybrid workforce we’ll be working with for the foreseeable future and all with the agility needed for organizations to thrive.

Learn more about organizational agility in our upcoming webinar, “Enabling organizational agility through talent & people success.”

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