Why HR is critical to an Agile Organisation

As the impact of digital technologies takes hold, those that are steering the transformation of businesses, such as Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) or in some cases the CEOs and CTOs, increasingly need the support of HR colleagues and external workforce solutions providers to help them identify and build the agile and flexible teams they need.

Businesses are also running closer to a ’sprint’ based mentality, where projects are smaller and on a shorter time scale utilising smaller teams with the agility to deliver more quickly.

Add to that Digital transformation programmes which aren’t end to end they’re cyclical and iterative.

This requires agility.

Becoming, or even being, agile is not just a process, it’s a massive behavioural change required by the organisation and it’s employees and contractors.

A recent US study by Randstad highlighted that by 2025 most workers and employers agree that the majority of the workforce will be employed in an agile capacity, either as contractors, consultants, temporary or freelance. The study suggests that by 2019, agile workers could comprise as much as 50% of the workforce vs around 11% today. For some companies this is an easy transition, Microsoft for example has nearly two-thirds as many contractors as full-time employees, for others it’s an entirely new way of working.

There are great benefits to both businesses and employees in having an agile workforce;

For businesses

  • Reduce need for permanent headcount in specific roles
  • Reduce the need for redundancy and layoffs
  • Leverage and flex the availability of skills and expertise
  • Increase speed of getting stuff done
  • Challenge ‘corporate’ thinking and assumptions with outside ideas

For Employees

  • Potentially better work / life balance.
  • More opportunity and flexibility
  • Potentially a better negotiating position (skill dependent)
  • More choice
  • Better career growth than working as a permanent employee.
  • Better job security (providing your very self motivated)

To remain competitive, companies will need to rely on ‘agile’ talent and other resourcing arrangements to quickly expand and contract or flex capability in order to be able to focus on the tasks at hand. There will be a need to embrace this higher percentage of agile talent and capability and treat it like an internal resource and not one that has always been seen as separate and less essential to a companies strategy or competitive advantage.

HR leaders, who are already stretched and in some cases already part of that agile workforce themselves, will need to turn their attention to this flexible workforce and to external workforce solutions providers to help identify, attract, and retain critical talent.

Talent pools and more specialist teams of people who can work together at short notice will spring up and make themselves available either dirctely or through thrid party platforms, and they may be the new kids or ‘agencies of talent’ on the block. This is something I have personal experience of, and the need for, drawing teams of specialist consultants or contractors together to meet the needs and requirements of delivering smaller, more agile, complex projects quickly for strategy through to deployment solutions.

Organisations and more specifically HR will need agility in their strategic decision making to anticipate these talent needs, adjust in real-time and utilise workers from a variety of employment arrangements. Establishing a culture of ‘flexible’ talent development to ensure their organisations have a sustainable pipeline of agile talent that meets the needs of a business that’s flexing and fluctuating to the changing environment around it.

Flexibility and Focus are key themes in our book

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Also published on Medium.