Agile professionals and organisations can adapt quickly to new, unexpected circumstances. It’s no wonder then, that “agile” is the word on everyone’s mind, as the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 came on fast and furious - and brought on a lot of change in a short period of time for professionals and companies alike.

From a hiring perspective, being agile means adapting hiring practices swiftly to avoid missing out on top talent in the market. From an engagement and retention perspective, agile workforce management allows a company to make quick decisions that address changing needs and expectations of employees.

Companies entering the recovery phase are seeking out tools for recovery - and it’s becoming clear that being able to manage your workforce in an agile way is one of the most important ones. In a recent webinar held by Michael Page Singapore, Nilay Khandelwal, Managing Director of Michael Page Singapore, Imran Bustamam, Head of HR, Ninja Van and Chris Mead, Head of Talent Acquisition, APAC, DuPont spoke about agility in the workplace and why organisations need to think ‘agile’ above all else when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.

In the workplace

Being able to navigate unexpected challenges means that you have an agile organisation. When all your carefully-made strategies suddenly become irrelevant, the best prepared companies should be willing to keep the best practices, rethink short term goals and make quick pivots at all levels of operations.

Organisations that rely heavily on face-to-face interaction to build and maintain relationships, both internal and external will have to quickly adapt to digital strategies and seek out digital transformation sooner than expected. From a hiring strategy perspective, agility allows organisations to reevaluate their teams, projected hiring needs and other employee-centric policies and make changes in response to new criteria.

Agility and hiring

When hiring, agility is essential as organisations need to be able to adopt new hiring practices that come along with virtual recruitment without missing a beat (or any talent). Most companies have adopted virtual recruitment as the way forward, and as circumstances return to some semblance of “normal”, it is expected that many companies will keep elements of virtual recruitment within their hiring process.

Seeking out agile talent

As circumstances change, demand for a certain employee is increasing - one who can easily adapt to unexpected situations, apply critical thinking at key moments and is able to go above and beyond what they were initially hired for. These traits aren’t necessarily found on a professional’s CV or in technical evaluations - it shows in their soft skills. Here are some important attributes that an outstanding, agile employee would possess:

● Resilient and the ability to handle ambiguity

● Willingness to contribute beyond job scope

● Ability to delivery on promises

● Action-oriented, rather than striving for perfection

● Willingness to learn and improve

Agility and engagement and retention

HR practitioners in India are finding that employee engagement and retention is among the biggest challenges during this COVID period. If a company was not used to working remotely until now, it’s no surprise that maintaining the same levels of connection through a screen is a major roadblock. Here are 3 way that companies can respond in an agile way to improve engagement and retention during these times:

1. Listen and care for employees.

While some HR practitioners feel apprehensive about conducting employee engagement surveys during this time, it has never been more important to gain feedback and insights to better understand where and how employees require support. Give employees a voice and follow up with actions to show your commitment for their well-being in the long run.

2. Understand that employee needs are changing.

The workplace is changing and employees’ needs and expectations are included in that. Whereas before, a good paycheck and decent benefits might be enough to secure the talent you need, employers now need a much stronger Employee Value Proposition (EVP), good non-monetary benefits and a purpose to believe in.

3. Find new ways to communicate. When you can’t count on in-person interactions and an office to foster a strong culture that will help with retention, it’s time to find new ways to communicate with employees. Communication has a strong link to employee engagement - so simply reaching out and talking to employees in a genuine, empathetic way can go far in ensuring your employees are in it with you.

Flexibility with contracting and freelancers

Contracting or temporary, project-based hires has emerged as an attractive, cost-effective solution for employers, as contractors help to fill staffing needs while still allowing for workforce flexibility as the global situation develops. Organisations that have this flexibility will gain an advantage in terms of reacting quickly to market changes without impacting productivity.

Becoming a responsive organisation

Agility, at its core, is the ability for businesses to respond to a quickly changing business environment with little impact to the core structures of the organisation. If the events surrounding the global pandemic have shown anything, it’s that we cannot take anything for granted as normal - and we must be ready to respond in an effective way to whatever is coming our way next.

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