Business Leaders Say They Are Unprepared to Manage Today’s Changing Workforce

Global survey from KellyOCG identifies four key behaviors of organizations thriving amidst the change

KellyOCG Global Workforce Agility Report 2021

Next level agility: The four dynamics of a resilient workforce

TROY, Mich., July 21, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The pandemic triggered a seismic shift in how, when and where we work, as well as record levels of individuals leaving their jobs. Business leaders around the world acknowledge this dramatic change, but many admit they are unprepared for how to manage talent, use technology and support their employees in this new environment, according to the KellyOCG 2021 Global Workforce Agility survey of more than 1,000 senior executives across 13 countries. Key survey findings include:

  • More than half (59%) of executives say their businesses will adopt a hybrid working model post pandemic; yet one in four believe their leaders lack the skills to manage the workforce they want to build.
  • Less than half of executives (49%) say they have a clear view of the optimal mix of talent required across all business areas, and 27% are unsure of what their employees want in terms of a post-Covid work environment.
  • Only a minority of organizations are using leading-edge technologies to respond to critical issues around workforce planning and management, including monitoring productivity and efficiency (44%), managing a remote workforce (38%), and predicting skills requirements (32%).
  • The majority (55%) report that talent from underrepresented groups has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – but fewer than half (43%) say they are executing a fully developed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy for their full-time staff, and only 19% have one for contingent labor.
KellyOCG Global Workforce Agility Report 2021

Next level agility: The four dynamics of a resilient workforce

In contrast to these underprepared businesses, the study identified a group of leading organizations – the ‘Vanguards’ – who report employee wellbeing and productivity have significantly improved within their organizations during the pandemic, alongside improved revenue growth over the past three years. These leaders, which made up approximately 10% of respondents, are taking a strategic, long-term approach to improve the resilience, agility and wellbeing of their workforces, compared with the ‘Laggards’ – respondents who report a decline in employee wellbeing and productivity over the past 12 months.

“Our research shows a majority of executives agree that talent has never been more important as a source of competitive advantage, yet they are ill-prepared to manage and support that talent,” explains KellyOCG President Tammy Browning. “Given that we are in the midst of a “talent tsunami” – with workers leaving jobs at record levels – this is a challenge leaders must face head on. The Vanguards provide a roadmap on key actions that will give businesses the edge they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive and fast-changing marketplace – ensuring their workforce is fit for a future in flux.”

Specifically, the data uncovered four key dynamics of the Vanguards’ response to the pandemic that are helping them build a more agile and resilient workforce, and a more profitable business.

  1. Vanguards amplify workforce fluidity. They are more likely to have a comprehensive strategy for bridging skills gaps by employing new talent, bringing on contingent labor (62%) and implementing re-skilling initiatives (52%).
  2. Vanguards are building a better employee experience. Nine in 10 (91%) Vanguards say improving the employee experience is as high a business priority as improving the customer experience.
  3. Vanguards are improving DEI. While many still only pay lip service to DEI programs, Vanguards are around twice as likely as Laggards (67% vs 35%) to have fully developed DEI strategies in place for both permanent and contingent talent.
  4. Vanguards understand that adopting leading-edge technologies is critical to managing a workforce in flux. Many have already begun implementing new technologies to alleviate workload pressure and enhance efficiency (64% vs. 48% of Laggards), and nearly half are using technology to gain visibility of workforce utilization and to improve the recruiting process.
KellyOCG Global Workforce Agility Report 2021

Next level agility: The four dynamics of a resilient workforce

Throughout the report, KellyOCG shares insights from in-depth interviews with five business leaders across industries. These executives provide on-the-ground perspectives on their responses to the pandemic, their priorities over the coming months, and the initiatives that have been most successful in bolstering workforce resilience. One of those independent experts is Heidi Gerhard, Head of Talent Strategy at BASF.

“We are capitalizing on learnings from the pandemic to optimize our employee experience, because we recognize that it will drive our competitive advantage. It opens us up to new talent, new perspectives and, ultimately, innovation, which delivers value for our customers,” says Gerhard.

Read the full report for additional insights.

About KellyOCG®
KellyOCG® connects companies with the talented people they need to fuel and grow their business through our unrivaled global talent supply chain and leading workforce solutions including Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). We combine decades of people industry experience with proprietary insights and a continued focus on technology to produce world-class programs that meet an organization’s unique workforce needs and can start them on their journey to total talent management. Our ability to anticipate what’s next for talent solutions drives us to challenge the status quo making us a trusted partner for our global client portfolio, which spans leading industries across North America, APAC and EMEA. Visit or connect with us on LinkedIn to learn more.

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