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What Do We Mean By Talent Agility?

The pandemic sent many companies into “survival mode” and even several years on some of them are still adapting. Businesses had to transform rapidly just so they could adapt to remote or hybrid working models, let alone the rest of the changes that were taking place in the economy and the job market.

This revealed just how unprepared most (if not all) businesses were to pivot quickly and adapt to massive and unexpected changes in the market.

Ever since then, the need for agile business practices – especially talent agility – has only increased, as more and more organizations realize the benefits of having a truly agile workforce. But what does talent agility really mean and what does it look like in practice (and at scale)?

Defining “talent agility”

In very simple terms, talent agility means that an organization and its employees are able to respond quickly and adapt to unforeseen circumstances – whether it is a large external shift in the market or an internal shift in the way the organization is structured or operates.

A recent report from Gartner shares, “amid volatile economic, business and workforce environments, organizations require talent agility to achieve business agility. To achieve talent agility, individuals must have more power to proactively develop skills (particularly in-demand emerging skills), and HR needs more insight into the skills available in the organization.”

And according to Randstad’s 2023 Talent Trends Report, 77% of talent leaders say that their strategy focuses more on agility this year, compared to previous years. This was an 11-point jump from their 2022 study.

When an organization has achieved talent agility, they are able to rise to almost any challenge, and rapidly shift talent and skills to where they are needed the most, with very little resistance or delay.

Companies who have successfully built agile workforces have a serious advantage over their (less agile) competitors. The ability to confidently handle whatever is thrown your way is the ultimate goal for the talent function, and for the business as a whole.

What does talent agility look like in practice?

Talent agility has many different facets, and it might look a little different depending on the industry your organization is in, but there are a few traits that most agile workforces have in common.

When you are first getting started on your talent agility journey, there are three key pieces that you should work towards and consider: developing a skills-based talent strategy, rolling out an internal mobility program, and adding an AI-driven Talent Marketplace to your HR tech stack.

Deploying a skills-based talent strategy

A skills-first approach to talent management – looking at your talent through the lens of skills, and matching those people to opportunities based on a shared understanding of the skills needed to do the work – allows organizations to see the full picture of their talent. With greater skills insights, recruiters, managers and business leaders can make smart talent decisions quickly and at scale.

These insights help organizations understand the skills they already have internally and the gaps that are left. With this knowledge and data around skills, businesses are better equipped to develop workforce plans for a variety of circumstances. Ultimately, this makes organizations much quicker to adapt in the face of market changes or uncertainty.

The “traditional” way of hiring has historically included matching resumes, CVs and previous job titles to an open requisition manually, and only the candidates who meet all of the requirements get the opportunity to interview – which is far from being an “agile” strategy.

When you structure your talent strategy around skills (instead of previous experience or job titles) it gives recruiters a much larger talent pool to work with, and it gives more candidates the opportunity to be considered.

With a skills-based talent strategy and the knowledge of the skills gaps your organization has, it becomes much easier to know the specific skills you need to look for to fill the gaps – either with external or internal candidates. By focusing on skills, your recruiters can become much more efficient in all areas of talent management, including the hiring process – making your organization much more agile.

Launching an internal mobility program

Talent agility involves unlocking new efficiencies in your talent processes. One way that organizations can become more agile is through internal mobility – filling open roles and skills gaps with your existing talent.

With internal mobility, your organization can reduce time-to-hire and fill roles much quicker than with external candidates. Internal candidates have the benefit of already knowing the organization, and are typically able to ramp up into a new role much faster, compared to a brand new hire who needs to learn the ropes of the business before they can really make an impact.

As an added bonus, internal hires have proven to be significantly cheaper than external hires, and they tend to be higher-performers in the long term – a true win-win situation for businesses who are navigating any kind of uncertainty.

Investing in a Talent Marketplace

Skills-based talent strategies and internal mobility programs are great stepping stones to achieving talent agility, but they are hard to accomplish without one critical piece… an AI-powered Talent Marketplace.

A Talent Marketplace can help you organize and unify your skills data with one common skills language to give you a clearer picture of the skills you have internally, and the gaps that are left, at any given time. This kind of tool can really help your organization look to skills first and foremost for any talent decision.

The right Talent Marketplace can also serve as an internal job board that can provide your current employees with personalized recommendations for internal roles and development opportunities based on their skills, potential and interests. Not only does this empower your employees to take ownership of their career paths, but it also helps your organization become extremely competitive and more agile when met with uncertainty.

The ability to identify skills gaps as they open up and to move talent around internally based on skills – those are two of the key elements of building a truly agile workforce for the future. Both of those things are made much easier with a smart, AI-driven Talent Marketplace.

Learn more about how to achieve talent agility with Beamery.

About the Author

Andrew has worked for non-profits, universities, and world-class tech companies such as Apple, Box, and Splunk. He is currently VP Product Marketing at Beamery, where he drives the GTM strategy for the Talent Lifecycle Management platform.

Profile Photo of Andrew Keating