7 steps to building a resilient organizational culture
Find out why skills-based strategies are the answer to overcoming ongoing uncertainty
“Change is the only constant” is an old adage—but it accurately describes what leaders are dealing with today. Starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve faced ongoing disruptions in the 2020s, including widening skill gaps, economic turbulence, the rapid proliferation of AI, and rampant geopolitical tensions.
All signs indicate that many of these forces of change aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, some disruptions are likely to become more pronounced; for example, Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people.
Rather than letting these challenges snowball into bigger problems, organizations must develop workforce resilience so that their people are prepared to shift gears at a moment’s notice to preserve business continuity no matter what comes next. Resilient organizations have the tools and strategies to successfully execute do-or-die pivots while also communicating these changes to their workforce to ensure everyone feels aligned, engaged, and empowered.
The importance of organizational resilience
While workforce resilience has always given top-performing companies an edge, it’s becoming increasingly essential now that our working world moves at a faster pace. In addition to economic turbulence and AI innovations, market convergence is one of the primary factors that’s causing talent needs to shift. While companies in the same industry used to function relatively similarly, now every organization must become a technology company. From oil enterprises that are embracing greener energy sources to healthcare companies experimenting with telemedicine, market convergence is redefining skills needs and operational processes.
To succeed in this volatile environment, organizations must be adaptive and agile—particularly during a crisis. Resilient organizations can reallocate talent to respond to shifting priorities, create a culture that helps employees feel safe and empowered, and tap into all of their workforce’s skills to create innovative solutions to pressing challenges. Alternatively, companies that lack resilience will not only suffer bottom-line losses but also struggle to maintain morale amongst employees.
7 steps to build a resilient organizational culture
If you’re looking to level up your work environment to help your organization thrive in the face of disruption, here are a few steps to get started:
#1. Embrace changes in technologies and processes
The most resilient leaders understand that keeping their fingers on the pulse to uncover the latest technological innovations is crucial for the success of their businesses. Legacy approaches underpinned by manual tools won’t cut it in our Post-Industrial era of work, which is hallmarked by ongoing change.
Rather than sticking with obsolete systems and processes, executives must push the boundaries for improvement and take stock of the resources they’ve got available to support various change initiatives. Many leaders are exploring a new generation of AI-powered talent management tools to gain an in-depth understanding of the skills of their workforce has and how they can be strategically reallocated to overcome emerging challenges.
#2. Define organizational values
Every employee should know how their work contributes to your organization’s overarching goals, even as these objectives change over time. When workers feel like they understand the why behind the tasks they’re doing, they will be more motivated to execute these responsibilities to the best of their ability. Companies that have a well-defined North Star and communicate their key values and mission to their workforce can feel confident that this shared understanding of their organization’s purpose will help instill a greater sense of resilience throughout their workforce.
#3. Promote open and transparent communication
Transparency should be a priority for all communications, from 1:1s with managers to internal emails and town halls. Organizations with resilient cultures recognize that communication is a powerful tool to promote best practices and open conversations around ethics and values. All stakeholders should strive to build trust by giving employees regular updates and creating opportunities for two-way communications so people can get their pressing questions answered.
#4. Identify and prepare for future skill needs
Skill gaps are clearly heading in the wrong direction, which poses a serious threat to business success. By 2030, Korn Ferry estimates that talent shortages could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues.
Rather than missing out on these earnings, resilient companies proactively address future talent gaps by taking stock of skills now. Leaders need clear insight into their peoples’ capabilities, which isn’t always easy to come by. Skills information is usually siloed among a few different HR systems, making it difficult for executives to get a single source of truth. To make matters worse, skills taxonomies are often out of date, leading to skill-building strategies that may not address the actual needs of the organization.
Companies that are looking to level up their resilience are turning to skills intelligence tools like Gloat’s Skills Foundation to gain visibility into all of their peoples’ capabilities. These systems are updated in real-time and pull from a worker’s LinkedIn profile or CV, in turn capturing the full range of expertise they’re bringing to the table.
#5. Diversify teams and foster inclusion
The most resilient organizations understand that in order to maintain the support of their entire workforce, all of their people must feel seen and empowered to grow their careers with the business. These companies actively work to mitigate bias and favoritism across all talent processes and create programs that help foster diversity and inclusion across all teams.
Many resilient organizations turn to talent marketplaces to ensure all employees have equal visibility into career opportunities. The platforms generate suggestions for projects, gigs, and full-time roles based on the skills employees have and the knowledge they’re looking to build.
#6. Empower decision-making at all levels
While rigid hierarchies and strictly defined jobs may have made sense in a working world that was predictable and stable, this approach won’t hold up in an era of ongoing disruption. Rather than confining employees to the roles they were hired to do, resilient organizations empower workers to take on an array of responsibilities by matching people to open opportunities based on the skills they possess.
These organizations also teach leadership skills at every level of their company so that all workers are empowered to make the right decisions. Soft skills such as communication, conflict resolution, and coaching are valuable throughout everyone’s career and can help more junior employees navigate challenging situations and make tough decisions thoughtfully.
#7. Prioritize cross-functional collaboration
Even the most talented teams benefit from working with employees from other departments because these workers will bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to the opportunity. Resilient organizations are committed to actively changing work processes to empower employees from various groups to come together to complete the same project.
These companies also provide employees with ample support mechanisms to charter, bring together, run, and disassemble teams at scale. To facilitate this agile creation of cross-functional teams, many organizations turn to talent marketplaces. These platforms enable hiring managers to post a project and get matched with employees whose skills and capacities align with what they’re looking for.
Overcoming barriers to building resilience
While it’s clear that building organizational resilience is advantageous, many companies encounter a handful of challenges along the way. Miscommunication is a common hindrance that prevents businesses from effectively responding to emerging challenges. Leaders must make a concerted effort to communicate directly with their entire workforce through town halls, videos, and emails. The more open and transparent leadership communications are, the more likely employees will be to go the extra mile for their organization during trying times because they’ll understand what’s happening and what they can do to help.
Employees also need ongoing access to skill-building opportunities to help their companies become more resilient. While L&D content is a step in the right direction, people also need hands-on experience to become true experts in what they’re learning. Talent marketplaces can give employees the chance to participate in mentoring, shadowing, and projects that help them build on the job expertise.
Finally, silos can put a damper on workforce resilience. If people always work with the same colleagues and stay within their teams, key knowledge may remain trapped within specific departments. To prevent this from happening, leaders must encourage cross-functional collaboration at all levels of the organization.
Ultimately, the skills your workforce has and your leaders’ ability to reallocate talent to meet emerging priorities will make or break your organization’s ability to overcome pressing challenges. Businesses that take a skills-based approach to talent management will always be more resilient than their job-centric competitors because these organizations will be able to rapidly spin up cross-functional teams and shift gears at a moment’s notice.
To learn more about how you can prepare your organization for the challenges that the future of work holds, check out our guide 3 visionaries, 1 strategy, which includes tips from Arianna Huffington, Al Gore, and Josh Bersin.