North American Business Leaders Unprepared To Manage a Workforce in Flux

New research identifies key actions thriving companies are taking to advance technology, culture and talent management amidst the change

TROY, Mich., Aug. 04, 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. North American business leaders are now confronted with the challenge of addressing the changing needs of their workforce, but most aren’t taking the necessary steps to transform their technology, culture, or talent management practices for a successful future, according to the KellyOCG Global Workforce Agility Report 2021.

Key survey findings among North American business leaders include:

  • More than half of North American business executives (57%) plan to continue giving employees the flexibility to work either in the office or at home post pandemic; yet 1 in 4 believe their leaders lack the skills to manage the workforce they want to build.
  • Meanwhile, 77% of leaders say they should be adopting talent management platforms to manage full-time and contingent labor simultaneously, but nearly half (43%) say their adoption of cutting-edge technologies isn’t happening fast enough.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 North American leaders are unsure of what their employees want in a post-Covid work environment. Understanding employees’ preferences in this area is critical given that a quarter of U.S. workers plan to look for a new job when the threat of the pandemic decreases.
  • Only half of executives (51%) have a clear view of the optimal mix of talent required across all business areas; and 22% say that their current workforce has skills gaps they don’t know how to fill.

“As society emerges from the pandemic, businesses have a unique opportunity to use the lessons from the past 12 months to adapt their workplace and talent management styles in support of a more fluid future,” says KellyOCG President Tammy Browning. “It’s encouraging to see leaders so open to this shift; however, many are struggling to find the right strategies and tools for effective change. Our research identifies key behaviors of businesses that are thriving and presents these best practices as a guide for others.”

The KellyOCG research suggests that North American businesses should follow the lead of the ‘Vanguards’ – a group of thriving organizations that are outperforming their peers in preparing for the post-pandemic business world. This group, which comprised 14% of North American respondents, reports improved revenue growth over the past three years, alongside an increase in employee wellbeing and productivity over the past 12 months – compared to a decline in these categories experienced by the ‘Laggards.’

KellyOCG identifies four key dynamics driving the Vanguards’ approach to technology, culture, and talent management:

  1. Vanguards embrace workforce fluidity. They are more likely than North American executives to have strategies in place to bridge skill gaps by employing more contingent workers (62% vs. 40%) and implementing re-skilling initiatives (52% vs. 45%).
  2. Vanguards are building a better employee experience. Nine in 10 (91%) of Vanguards say improving the employee experience is as high a business priority as improving the customer experience. Strikingly, North American leaders lag behind in their agreement at 79%.
  3. Vanguards are improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). While less than half of North American respondents (45%) have executed a fully developed DEI strategy for full-time employees, and less than a quarter have a strategy in place that includes contingent workers, Vanguards are implementing strategies for full-time (67%) and contingent (32%) workers at a much higher rate.
  4. Vanguards understand that adopting leading-edge technologies is critical to managing a workforce in flux. In North America, 83% of leaders say their organization could benefit from adopting leading-edge technologies, yet more than half admit to feeling too overwhelmed by the number of available options.

The KellyOCG research indicates that, when these four dynamics are embraced together, North American businesses across industries can better attract, retain and motivate talent to meet their business goals. Throughout the report, independent experts provide further insights into these dynamics and how they are successfully creating a more resilient workplace for the future. One of those 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,” says Gerhard. “It opens us up to new talent, new perspectives, and ultimately innovation, which delivers value for our customers.”

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.

About the Survey
KellyOCG surveyed over 1,000 senior executives, 20% of whom are in C-suite or board member roles, across 13 countries – Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and U.S. – and 10 industries. In the U.S., the survey covered 229 senior business leaders across the country, including at C-suite and Board level. 


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