The importance of agility in adapting to change

COVID-19 has shown us that with the right technology backbone and insights, organisations can be agile, they can make strategic and informed decisions to mitigate business risk, take advantage of opportunities, and they can plan for the future, writes Stephen Jack, Managing Director & Vice President, Workday ANZ.

The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many businesses and put technologies and systems to the test. Those businesses that had invested in modern HR systems were well-positioned to adapt to the ever-changing environment and keep employees engaged and informed and were able to make changes to human resourcing plans quickly. Those that were using out of date clunky systems struggled.

At a time when speed and agility have never been more critical, CHROs need to ask critical questions about business agility and if they are able to respond quickly to change. They need to ask; do we have the right systems in place to take a lead and adapt and respond to the new normal?

These challenges were captured in a recent study involving almost 200 organisations in Australia and New Zealand. Titled the Workday Digital Agility Index, and conducted in partnership with IDC, it showed that nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of organisations admitted they struggled to realign organisation structures, or to track people skill sets for special taskforces during COVID-19. The same proportion said it was difficult to make changes to their HR plans, budgets, and forecasts during COVID-19.

It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the importance for businesses to be digitally agile. Businesses in all sectors have been significantly impacted and have had to make changes, rapidly, to their business structure and in how they manage their people.

Ask the critical questions
At a time when speed and agility have never been more critical, CHROs need to ask critical questions about business agility and if they are able to respond quickly to change. They need to ask; do we have the right systems in place to take a lead and adapt and respond to the new normal? Is my current system allowing me to properly support the business? Do I have access to the right data? Am I able to plan? Can I track employee health status?

COVID-19 has shown us that with the right technology backbone and insights, organisations can be agile, they can make strategic and informed decisions to mitigate business risk, take advantage of opportunities, and they can plan for the future.

Navigating change with agility
Flinders University is one organisation that understands the importance of agility. The higher education sector has faced enormous challenges over the past few years with enrolments falling, planned faculty consolidations and students and employees demanding self-service and better experiences, they have had to adapt to changing demands to survive.

Over the past three years, Flinders University invested significant time and resources into creating an agile culture at the university, not just focusing on the technology, and this ensured business continuity and allowed them to adapt quickly to change when they had to close their campus due to COVID-19.

According to Kerrie Campbell, CIO, Flinders University, “this was crucial when we were confronted with this unprecedented disruption to our operations, as it meant that we possessed the agile mindset and had empowered our staff to be able to cope with the state of flux the pandemic created.”

The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many businesses and put technologies and systems to the test. Those businesses that had invested in modern HR systems were well-positioned to adapt to the ever-changing environment and keep employees engaged and informed and were able to make changes to human resourcing plans quickly.

Streamlining WFH for entire workforce
Flinders University already supported flexible work arrangements and had policies in place that enabled remote work, but when COVID-19 hit, they had to make sure the entire workforce was ready to work from home. This included running people through policies and processes, some of whom had never worked from home before, to ensure they understood what was needed.

Flinders University implemented Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) to make life easier for its people and remove time consuming administrative processes. They did not know COVID-19 was around the corner when they started their transformation, but because they had implemented new technology and adopted a digitally agile mindset, Flinders University was able to navigate the COVID-19 environment and properly support its people.

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