BUSINESSES survive by continually responding to the world around them, for instance, by harnessing new technologies or exploiting new markets.

Today, these global shifts occur more frequently, are more complex, and in knowledge-based economies, are more dependent on talent than ever. Being able to adapt to these shifts will set the winners apart from the losers.

LinkedIn and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently released a global study on the adaptability of talent in the workplace.

It revealed that Singaporean businesses are losing out on $360 million a year from lost productivity and poor hiring choices.

Hiring candidates who don’t quite fit the role can lead to lower productivity and retention rates, as well as increased recruiting costs.

Countries where employees tend to be adaptable — those who are willing and able to change roles and sectors — have stronger economic growth.

This is playing out across Asean businesses as well, which have a conundrum on their hands.

Some 65 per cent of their chief executive officers would like to increase head count next year, but a whopping 90 per cent are worried about the availability of key skills.

Although Singapore ranked joint-fourth out of 11 countries in terms of adaptability, there is still a lot we can do as a country to ensure we are fostering adaptable talent.

Here are some suggestions for business leaders to ensure they are finding and keeping the best employees, and for employees to help “future proof” their careers:



 Prioritise training and development opportunities

If change is inevitable, how prepared for it are you?

As a business leader, the reality is that if you want the best employees, it is your responsibility to provide ongoing learning opportunities.

Many executives worry that if they spend money on training initiatives, their employees will look for new opportunities and leave. The problem with this thinking is that if you do not invest in their growth, you risk stagnating it and, by extension, your company.

As an employee, take ownership of your career. It is essential for employees to be clear about their goals and aspirations within the organisation and, in turn, it is management’s responsibility to provide open, honest and constructive feedback to coach and develop them.

To help employees become truly successful, both sides need to adapt to the ever-changing environment, collaborate on a shared vision of career success and take intelligent risks on opportunities that they might not have traditionally considered.



 Look inside

It seems natural for an organisation to look outside the company to hire, but what if the ideal candidate is right under its nose? 

Part of becoming more adaptable means a willingness on the part of employees to address gaps in their skills and experience to match job requirements that may be outside a “traditional” career path, and for employers, in turn, to consider candidates who are already working for them.

Leaders, think about how you want to recognise adaptability within your company, or even how you may actually be discouraging it through traditional performance review processes that do not typically reward employees for lateral moves.

Employees, it is worth noting that having a broader understanding of the business — not just a specific business line or a particular job function — provides greater perspective, and this is essential for strong leaders.



 Find the best fit for yourself

Imagine how much time and money go into interviewing candidate after candidate through traditional recruitment methods, before finding the right match — or worse — settling on a less-than-perfect candidate whose skills do not match the role.

The PwC/LinkedIn study found that the longer the time taken to find the right candidates and the increased likelihood of mismatched talent to leave sooner are costing companies in Singapore $80 million in avoidable recruitment costs.

Employers should consider how they are using professional social networks for recruitment.

The study also found a strong correlation between the use of professional social networks and adaptability.

Such networks give organisations access to a larger talent pool that includes both passive and active candidates — dramatically increasing the likelihood of finding the right person for the job.

With these networks having brought unprecedented visibility to the talent market, professionals can showcase their talent to employers like never before.

LinkedIn’s Global Recruitment Trends research in 2013 found that professional social networks were the second most important source of key quality hires for talent acquisition leaders.

Clearly, the quality of your online presence has never mattered more.

Adaptability is increasingly a driving force that will have an impact on the success of professionals’ careers, companies, and economies as a whole.

If Singapore can develop a workforce that can respond nimbly to the fast-changing demands of today’s landscape, that will put the country on track for increased prosperity for all.


Article by Feon Ang, regional director for LinkedIn Talent Solutions in the Asia-Pacific.