AMS chief executive officer, David Leigh looks at The future of total workforce solutions
There’s no doubt that the last year has been tough for everyone, but while Covid-19 has disrupted businesses, it hasn’t stopped the evolution of talent acquisition and management that we were experiencing before the pandemic. For global total workforce solutions firm, AMS (formerly Alexander Mann Solutions), the workplace evolution that we’re all experiencing now has long been anticipated.
AMS has been a pioneer in the world of total workforce solutions since it was first established by Rosaleen Blair under its original name in 1996. Since then, the firm has evolved and adapted to support the needs of businesses on a global scale. From the integration of technology, AI and automation into talent strategies, increasing globalisation and the rise of the contingent workforce, AMS has flexed and shifted in line with the changing talent needs of its clients while also driving innovation to get them ahead of the curve.
While the pandemic has certainly been a catalyst for a lot of change in the talent acquisition and management arena, Leigh explained that the company’s refocus and new image was already in the pipeline as businesses talent needs were already evolving and flexing at a significant rate:
“Our decision to re-brand wasn’t directly led by the global pandemic – in fact it has been in the making for some time – but there’s no doubt that Covid-19 created a need for further tweaks and refinement of our total workforce solutions.
“Before the pandemic struck, the ‘normal’ workforce was moving and flexing at such a pace that traditional talent strategies were, in many instances, too rigid to serve the needs of businesses. On top of this change that was already emerging, in the last year employers have had to strike a difficult balance between the need to create safe, supportive and, for many, remote working environments, while also adapting to the wide-spread restrictions to ensure continuity for customers, no matter what is happening in the macro economy.”
“It very quickly became clear that workforces need to be built for change – and we all need to adapt to this.” Leigh continued, “We are proud of our heritage, having pioneered the Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) industry 25 years ago, evolving to add contingent and advisory services, and today offering a total workforce solutions partner that integrates all these pieces. Now, though, we are pioneering workforce dexterity. It’s what the recruitment and talent market demand and what companies need.”
The future of total workforce solutions: dexterity
If we take a deeper dive into the definition of dexterity, in a business environment it can often be linked to ‘digital’, with Craig Roth, vice president of Gartner research describing it as “the ability and ambition to use technology for better business outcomes”. But workforce dexterity encompasses so much more than just digital.
Leigh explains, “It involves reframing talent management to talent liberation and adopting a new mindset across the entire remit of total workforce solutions that allows companies to harness the holistic power of their people in new ways. Our workforces are now in constant motion and a static approach to managing this simply won’t be fit for purpose.”
According to AMS, the concept of workforce dexterity is built on four pillars:
- Fluidity: bringing together a fluid mix of people, skills, and technology, with the flexibility to power a business through tomorrow’s demands in real time
- Diversity: a unique approach to combining a diversity of perspectives, skills, experiences, and roles to accelerate innovation and success
- Resilience: working to create a boundless organisation, with a resilient workforce of people and skills that can take on challenges, then evolve and thrive in the face of uncertainty
- Differentiation: beyond acquiring great people, extending capabilities with the right programs and technology to reach beyond competitors
Leigh continued, “Dexterity encompasses mindsets, beliefs and behaviours that employers and strategic talent partners need to adapt to in order to deliver workforce strategies that are relevant for today’s world. We’re already seeing elements of this emerge as a natural reaction to the pandemic.
“For example, organisations who a year ago were reluctant to implement widespread remote working practices have now accepted and embraced it. Diversity, inclusion and supporting mental health in the workplace has also never been so widely accepted. Crucially, this approach to dexterity is not about ‘keeping up with change’ – the pace of developments makes this an impossible target in some instances. Instead, it’s about cultivating a workforce with fluid, resilient, diverse and differentiated capabilities to enable true workforce dexterity to be achieved. When this level is reached, then businesses will be equipped to almost seamlessly adapt to change, no matter what form it takes.”
Workforces that are built for change
This ability to prepare for disruption in any shape is more important as the impact of Covid-19 continues to emerge. As Leigh explained further, “there’s certainly been a wealth of assumptions made since the pandemic began as to how the workforce and talent solutions have changed. However, in reality, we don’t really know. We’re still facing on-going volatility and uncertainty as the virus grips the world. As a result, workforces have to evolve not to a specific ‘point-in-time’ environment, but rather continually evolve for business needs.
“We can’t, however, ignore the fact that the workforce has evolved almost beyond recognition; how businesses manage this change now will be the difference between success and stagnation. Our clients are building for the future, and this means being boundless and global. We are helping them create workforces that are built faster, flex easily, and are quantified by skills, not heads.”
Harnessing a crisis
While AMS is now pioneering the concept of workforce dexterity in the long term, as Leigh explains, in the short term there is an immediate need for people strategies that have sufficient flexibility to allow businesses to scale their workforces up or down where needed. While this will require constant fluidity from those that support the talent acquisition and management processes, it also presents a great opportunity.
“As disruptive and damaging as the pandemic has been, and indeed, continues to be, it does also present the chance to reimagine and reinvent the workplace and talent strategies. For experts in people acquisition and all suppliers involved in workforce solutions, now really is the time to guide what the future will look like. As Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has become famous for saying: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” and the same is true when it comes to the future of recruitment, contingent workforce solutions and talent management.”
Whatever lies in store in a post-Covid world, one thing is for certain; employers need to create fluid, resilient, diverse and differentiated workforces in order to thrive. Businesses are striving for a strategy that empowers their firm to anticipate and capitalise on the constant shifts in people, processes and technology. And, as AMS has clearly recognised, dexterity – or rather, true workforce dexterity – is the means to achieving this goal.