Resilient Workforce roadmap 2022

Acronym VUCA made its spectacular way into boardrooms in the past couple of years. Never before did leaders understood it on such an intuitive level as during the disruptions brought by the pandemic. While VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) reality is more often taken into account during strategy meetings, it’s somewhat overlooked with regards to employees. Despite its massive potential.
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Businesses, which passed their resilience test and learned to adapt to the ever-increasing pace of change developed business strategies and response system. This allows them to focus on increasing resilience of their workforce to further improve the vital business indicators. Year 2022 is the year that will zoom into employees wellbeing and increased work satisfaction. Planning for this, the aforementioned VUCA may prove itself invaluable resource. 

To counteract VUCA dangers, futurist Bob Johansen developed VUCA Prime, response system for each of threats in fast-changing environment. This could serve as a roadmap for businesses that plan for workforce agility in 2022. 

Lead through Volatility with Vision

Vision is a powerful driver for employee retention. It’s not enough to craft a vision statement and put it out there for others to discover. In 2022 clear and inspiring vision should become the centerpiece of employee development plants. When volatility of the business environment becomes a psychological burden for your workforce, vision is their anchor to get through the storms. 

How can you infuse vision to support your workforce resilience:

  1. Complement goal-setting with vision-splicing. More powerful than helping their company to achieve its business objectives is helping their company to realize its vision. Increase employee motivation with helping them to “slice” a piece of company’s vision. Create supporting visions working towards big company’s vision for each of the departments, teams and allow individuals define their own role in how they see themselves contributing to this vision. 
  2. Attracting new talents becomes easier when recruitment is vision-based. Reflect in the role description, how the prospective recruit can contribute to the vision. Working towards something bigger than yourself can prove invaluable in attracting and retaining Quereinsteigers leading the great resignation and Gen Z, looking for meaning-based career choices. 
  3. Empower your leaders with Collective Visioning tools when introducing change. Nothing increases buy-in more than participatory approach to change. Implementing challenging projects, transitioning to new systems or automation of job roles will go smoother and can bring unexpected benefits, when people affected by the change can express their best vision for the said change. Leaders should act as facilitators in this exercise that, if done properly, will turn your employees into change champions. 

Increase Understanding to counteract Uncertainty

We are all naturally averse to uncertainty, which shakes our fundamental survival system. Uncertainty increases anxiety levels, which is neither productive nor healthy, and definitely works against businesses wanting to retain employees. Prioritize knowledge and information-sharing to increase employees’ understanding of changes and reduce uncertainty. Even when change outcome poses uncertainty for the company itself – share with your employees what progress towards big decisions is made, applying the principal of radical transparency. 

How can you promote Understanding to improve workforce resilience:

  1. Break silos in your organization. All departments should be aware, that they work together towards shared vision and not compete with each other. Facilitate information-sharing between departments by creating dedicated Wikis, where employees can share their best practices and visions, towards which they are working. 
  2. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration by organizing design thinking workshops, where representatives of different departments work together towards solving problems the organization is facing. 
  3. Pair team members of different departments to work on process and product improvements and customer oriented solutions. Sales and marketing team members could pair to find solutions on increasing customer satisfaction, while promoting understanding of each teams’ practices. 

Reduce Complexity with Clarity

Complexity of the changes calls for grasping vast amounts of information to synthesise into something we can make sense of. What is needed is more simplicity in our solutions, products, policies and environment. The more complex a problem is, the more focus on simplicity should be directed. Help your workforce to gain clarity to make sense of complexity of the world, so that they can work more productively instead of dealing with roadblocks. 

  1. Simplify internal policies, SOPs, and procedures. Churn all the noise and increase visibility of what’s important. Don’t aim to create complex documents for all to understand – aim to create one-pages written in clear and concise way. There should be no room for double interpretation of what’s expected of your workforce. Reduce their cognitive load by presenting important information in a condensed format, highlighting the key message. 
  2. A huge area of improvement in most of the companies oscillates around ways how working time is spent. Allow employees to gain clarity on where their time goes by tracking it with a software for their own information. Let them come up with the ways to restructure their time and get in control of it. Instead of requiring immediate email responses, encourage to block 2-3 slots a day, when the employee is available for email communication, calls or meetings. Self-organizing employees will work towards increasing their productivity and will have increase job satisfaction from the feeling of ownership over their time.
  3. Communicate with clarity and let others do so. Train your workforce for clear communication and encourage the culture of openness. Employees should never fear expressing unpopular opinions about the nature of work or their own mistakes and observations. Infuse your communication practices with clarity – from delivering important messages clear to allowing clarity in communication between all employees. 

Respond to Ambiguity with Agility

Agile methodologies saw wide cross-industry adoption since Agile Manifesto in 2001, and early lessons from surviving pandemic companies increasingly highlight Agile Business Models. The very own definition of agility is responsiveness to changes, readiness for unknown, quick reaction to changing realities. Every company, regardless of their industry, can benefit from adoption of Agile principles. You may consider adopting it company-wide, running a pilot or focus on specific company parts, which benefit the most from improved agility.

workforce development

Nurturing Agility in your employees:

  1. Introduce way of working in increments. Re-calibrating and checking for new developments in the environment allows to adopt to changes in nearly-real time. Instead of waiting until the important for decision issue is less ambiguous, other sides of the work could be done around it, decreasing total completion time, while creating the most up-to date solutions. 
  2. Empower your leaders with Scrum skills. Benefits of Scrum could be applied in various context. Leaders don’t need to feel obliged to use it as a default mode, but to have freedom of deciding, when using scrum approach is more appropriate.
  3. Develop a strong UX Culture. UX is not about making things look pretty, but about increased usability of the solutions and human-centric approach. Design culture benefits businesses with creative problem-solving and moving to the forefront of customer satisfaction, cementing business position as a leader. 

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Natasha Syed
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