At this point, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 is news to no one. The pandemic is disrupting organizations of all shapes and sizes, and creating new and unforeseen challenges for everyone. Countless industries and companies around the world are taking hits on their revenues, with many already freezing or significantly downsizing their activities. This hurts everyone, from employees to investors and shareholders, and the difficult decisions executives have had to make will have both short- and long-term impact on every aspect of their businesses.
But while the situation may seem bleak, there are concrete steps you can take which will not only keep your organization’s proverbial head above the water, but which can actually give you a competitive advantage, both now and after the crisis is over.
Before we talk about a possible solution, though, let’s first examine the problem.
There are a variety of factors currently influencing organizations, ranging from the workforce’s mental health to shuttered supply chains. But from an HR perspective, the four biggest challenges we currently identify come down to attempts to cut costs by implementing a hiring slowdown – and in some cases, a hiring freeze altogether, a marked decrease in work with third-party contractors, headcount reductions and, finally, the re-allocation of internal resources by shifting talent away from struggling parts of the business to higher growth areas.
The rapid pace of economic disruption is putting pressure on HR executives and business leaders to act fast in executing these decisions. However, optimizing a global workforce in a large scale organization requires contending with both making these changes, while simultaneously ensuring the business continues to operate and develop going forward.
This requires companies to make intelligent decisions regarding what changes to make, while ensuring they utilize the remaining internal talent to its fullest potential in order to compensate for the reduced level of budgets or resources.
Workforce agility and mobility at scale in a company of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of employees requires clear visibility and insight into the skills and capabilities of the workforce, as well as the ability to dynamically reallocate talent across the organization.
How significant is this?
According to a study carried out by McKinsey about talent reallocation during financial crises, very.
Companies who were able to quickly move their resources around to fit the requirements of the challenges they faced saw a nearly 5% difference in their total returns to shareholders over companies who remained static.
But how do you go about restructuring your organization for that kind of flexibility?
First, you need to gain instant visibility and insight into the skill sets available across organizational functions and geographies: mapping, prioritizing and unlocking in-house skills is critical for businesses to quickly re-assign or re-balance talent.
Second, embracing project-based work as the driver of organizational agility will allow you to leverage the untapped in-house enterprise skills needed to transform the workforce, while still continuing to deliver and execute when responding to a quickly changing environment.
Developing the ability to reallocate talent at speed will allow you to move people around internally to high priority roles. This requires quickly identifying and assigning people to higher growth areas of the business, while trying to optimize areas that might be struggling.
This includes the ability to quickly access in-house skills, instead of relying on contractors and 3rd party services. This will allow your business to unlock capacity internally with part-time projects to compensate for lack of external resources and budget.
To get the most out of this, you need to be able to manage and utilize a remote and global workforce. Global organizations have talent in different areas, each affected differently by the evolving situation. Engaging, allocating and tracking the utilization of remote talent is key for efficient utilization of the workforce.
Finally, you need to be able to develop new organizational skills. The rapidly changing environment brings many challenges to organizations, but it also creates new business opportunities for those who respond fast; it is critical to develop new skills and capabilities among the existing employees to address the markets’ changing needs.
So how can this type of workforce utilization be accomplished, and what are industry giants like Unilever, Schneider Electric, Deloitte, and Walmart – among others – doing to make the most of their most prized resource?
It all comes down to internal mobility, and the idea of an internal talent marketplace, which allows both full-time internal talent mobility, as well as part-time project assignments. But while the concept is simple in theory, successfully applying it in practice is a different matter altogether.
Thinking of reallocating talent to high performing areas of your company? Download the report to see how Fortune companies like Unilever, Schneider Electric, and others are doing this today using an AI-powered internal talent marketplace.