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How to Build a Workforce That Can Adapt During Economic Uncertainty

The past few years have underscored the importance of agility and adaptability for enterprise organizations. The COVID-19 pandemic caught business leaders off guard, and many discovered just how unprepared they were to pivot quickly.

Today, the threat of a global recession is looming, and many businesses are unprepared for a season of economic downturn. The talent market undoubtedly changed during the pandemic and now employers need to be ready for another massive workforce shift.

So what steps can organizational leaders take to help their businesses become more agile and build a workforce that can adapt and withstand economic challenges?

Implement a skills-first approach

If you want to build a workforce that can adapt quickly, you must assess your talent with a skills-first mindset. It’s critical that as a business leader, you are able to take a step back and get a clear picture of the work that needs to be done, the skills that are needed to do the work, and an understanding of the skills that you have internally already.

If you don’t have accurate and up-to-date skills data, it’s almost impossible to adapt quickly and efficiently when your business needs change. For example, you may discover that you have an immediate need for a particular skill, and if you don’t know what skills you already have within your organization, you may be missing out on the opportunity to fill that gap internally (which is generally much quicker than hiring externally, and keeps top talent engaged).

Your skills data should be a single source of truth for your HR and talent teams – a place where they can go to see a snapshot of your workforce’s skills at any given time. Making sure that your HR systems such as your ATS and CRM speak the same language related to skills is a critical first step to becoming an agile, skills-first organization (learn more about how Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform can help).

Data from LinkedIn shows that 40% of employers who hire on LinkedIn currently use skills to fill open roles, and those employers are 60% more likely to find a successful hire than those who are not using a skills-based approach. When you look at your talent through the lens of skills, you can be confident that you are able to fill gaps in your workforce as they arise.

Invest in the right tech

While well thought out talent strategies and smart planning are important, without the right tools and tech to help execute your strategy, your carefully crafted plans will be much more difficult to achieve.

Adaptability and agility require efficient work, and there’s no better way to increase the efficiency of your talent function than to invest in the right tools. Top of the line HR tech solutions use AI to help organizations keep a constant pulse on the skills within their workforce and enable faster time to hire, and better collaboration between talent teams, HR and hiring managers.

With a Talent Lifecycle Management solution, you can also anticipate your talent needs, allowing you to build talent pipelines and hire proactively. Building a sustainable talent pipeline filled with qualified and engaged candidates that recruiters can connect with at any time is one of the best ways to ensure that your business can adapt to rapidly changing talent needs.

Talent pipelines allow businesses to hire top talent (with the right skills) on demand. And if you use the right tool that helps reduce bias, you can ensure that you are sourcing candidates fairly, to create a more inclusive workforce.

Develop an internal mobility strategy

Once you have the right tools to help increase efficiency and agility in your Talent Acquisition teams, you can focus on unlocking the true potential of your workforce with an internal mobility strategy.

Business and talent needs can change rapidly and, during a time of economic uncertainty, cutting hiring costs can reduce some of the financial burden on the organization. Internal hires cost much less than sourcing and onboarding brand new external candidates.

And, with an internal mobility strategy, you can also fill roles quicker with internal candidates who already have the skills you need. You can also identify current employees who may not already have the skills you’re looking for, but have the potential to be upskilled and learn the skills that are in demand – allowing them to fill a new role within the organization.

Sophisticated learning and development programs help employers by unlocking the potential of current employees, but they also help employees develop in their careers and stay engaged in their work, which is proven to increase retention rates. By using insights into the skills deficits in the business (and the supply of skills in the wider labor market), HR teams can align their plans with business objectives to develop a winning L&D program that everyone can get behind.

Coming off the heels of the Great Resignation and heading into a potentially volatile economy is not the time to lose your top talent, so anything you can do to keep your talent engaged (while filling key skills gaps and meeting business demand), is critically important.

If you don’t have an internal mobility strategy in place already, it’s time to invest in a Talent Marketplace – a platform that aids internal mobility. Talent Marketplaces allow employees to find and apply for new roles internally, or find short-term projects or gigs that they are interested in helping with. Employees can also apply for development opportunities such as mentoring or training, according to their individual interests and career goals.

A high quality Talent Marketplace, powered by explainable AI, can help employers save time and money on hiring, while keeping their talent engaged long term and helping each individual employee develop their skills.

As today’s employers face one challenge after the next, building a workforce that can adapt to a number of different circumstances is crucial to compete and survive. If employers have learned anything in recent years, it’s that talent needs can change quickly, and agility can make all the difference.

By implementing a skills-first approach to talent management, investing in the right tools and creating a robust internal mobility strategy, businesses can be better prepared for whatever workforce challenges come next.

Download our report on organizational efficiency to learn how Beamery can help you unlock productivity in your workforce, and be prepared for the next shift in your business needs.