Resilience – how to futureproof your business

As Covid has shown, we must always be prepared for external shocks. But just how do you ensure that your business is resilient enough to cope when the unexpected strikes?

First, just what is resilience? A look in a dictionary gives us the following definition: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. 

It can also refer to the ability of an object to bounce back into shape after being put under stress. In both cases what really matters is the way resilience equips us to be able to respond quickly and effectively to the strains put upon us, and to do that without breaking. Having a resilient business has always been important, but right now, and post-Covid, it’s more critical than ever before.

While Covid was a shock that came out of the blue, the waves it sent crashing through the system continue to reverberate. Indeed, with inflation now at levels not seen for 40 years, and the first major conflict in Europe since 1945 looking to continue for the foreseeable future, those waves have if anything got bigger and look a lot more threatening.

In many ways Covid simply accelerated many trends which were already emerging, such as working from home. But as a direct result this also accelerated many technological changes, not least among them its use to enable employees working remotely to stay in touch through digital means.

As a result, what were once trends some way off in the future, are now an accepted part of the way we communicate with each other. The change may have been forced upon us by events, but we were all flexible enough to accept that change was inevitable. The system was put under considerable pressure, but we had the resilience to be able to quickly find new ways to cope.    


What does it take to be a resilient business?

If resilience is being able to cope with new and unexpected pressures in an unpredictable world, just what does that look like in a business environment? And, more importantly, what are the characteristics of a resilient business?

Clearly to be resilient we need to have access to the financial resources, people and assets when needed. We also require a clear understanding of the risks the business is exposed to and just how far it can flex under any unexpected strain. That also means we need to have the data and the ability to model these possible scenarios in ways which allow us to to predict and react to events even before they happen.

That’s all easy to aspire to, but not at all easy to achieve. It requires a tricky blend of efficiency, agility, empowerment, insight and control. Above all it needs us to address three key areas:

  1. Operational efficiency: to ensure that our business can stay competitive by removing complexity and cost.
  2. Organisational agility: making sure that we can adapt quickly to changes through flexible processes, with access to the funding to enable us to do that, and in real-time.
  3. People power: the ability to develop our workforce as the driving element in continual improvement through their skills, motivation and leadership.

The pandemic – and the continued uncertainty in the world – has and will continue to test us in each and every one of these core areas.


Building resilience with technology

The good news, if I can put it that way, is that we have very quickly seen that technology offers a real and vital support in building the foundations of a truly resilient business. 

Once again, Covid has accelerated the importance of technology in delivering goods and services, allowing businesses to develop their offerings, and communicate effectively both internally and externally. By having better insight into just what’s going on within a business, we are better able to stress test and stay ahead of whatever may come along in the future.

This is particularly important with the regard to the resilience of our workforces. The identification, development, and management of talent has never been more important. Technology may well be vital, but at the same time people need to be at the centre of that investment, because it is the organisations which invest in tech which will be the ones able to make quicker, smarter people decisions.


Finding the magic hiring switch

You don’t need me to tell you that the hiring market right now is the toughest it’s ever been. Many of my own customers tell me that they have been searching the market but to no avail. Unfortunately there is no magic switch you can turn on to change this situation. Or is there?

Here is an area where a resilient and flexible approach can provide solutions. Because, as we have seen, one major aspect of resilience is about providing people with access to a continual improvement in their skills. So might the answer lie within your own business?

That technology as well as enabling change, can help you identify and unlock the talent within your own business. Rather than a fruitless, time consuming, and expensive search for talent outside your organisation, could the answer lie within the pool of talent you already have? After all, Linkedin Learning report that 94 to 95% of employees would stay with a company longer if the company was seen to be investing in their training and growth.

The good news is that building a learning centric organisation doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you’ll need a more strategic approach to how you spot that internal talent and help it grow, but the support to help you develop the long-term learning programmes required to help your existing workforce to learn new and different skills is available right now.

Delivering this learning is even testing companies, like MHR, which work with organisations to create such learning academies. Right now we are employing content developers with e-learning, graphical and digital skills to help us deliver the kinds of programmes which will be increasingly needed in the future.

Before Covid almost all our training was ‘traditional’ classroom-based learning. That still has a place, but it is now only around 15% of what we do.

We’ve needed to be flexible and change to meet the new demands of the post-Covid world. But again this is an acceleration of an existing trend.

By 2025 around 75% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials. They’ve grown up in a digital world. Not only will they expect their employers to be technically ahead of the game, but they’ll expect the training programmes they engage with to be as dynamic and digitally motivating as those they use in everyday life.        


Increasing the visibility of internal talent

Through our own learning management system (LMS), we are already working with a range of customers who are reaping the benefits of increasing the visibility of the talent they already hold within their businesses. This not only helps them ensure their employees have the skills they need to meet various compliance demands, but also helps them create an employee base with the skills required to meet future demands.

But don’t just take my word for this. Here is what one of our customers in the Healthcare setting has said about how the LMS has benefited their company:

“We’re using LMS to track our externally accredited training, having automated the process from manual records, reducing the risk of human error. It means, as a learning team, we’ve become more efficient and proactive in renewing training requirements as opposed to being reactive.

"There is still some way to go with this, but this is down to our internal process as opposed to the LMS. Having created some of our own training courses, we’re ensuring new joiners experience the same standard and messaging, creating consistency across our business.

"The LMS is helping us monitor attendance on programmes and ‘sweep up’ non-attendance more quickly, thus reducing the skills gap. On that point we are starting to gain a bigger, more valuable picture of the skillset of our business, and more importantly, where the gaps are.”  

Resilience, the ability to respond to pressure and bounce back even stronger, has always been important. Right now – in our post Covid world – it is absolutely vital. Without it businesses will simply not survive.

But the good news is that the technology exists right now to allow companies to address the key issues around resilience – and to quickly make the changes needed to streamline their businesses. Not least being able to respond to the need to develop the next level of talent, and identify and close the skills gaps which might well hinder the ability of the organisation to rise to the challenges the future might hold.

As Covid has shown, we never know what’s waiting for us around the next corner, but we do have the tools right now that will enable us to meet those challenges whatever they may be, and emerge stronger, faster, and - dare I say it - more resilient than ever.


Laura Robson is head of customer learning & education at MHR Global

To find out more about just how the MHR Global Customer Learning Academy could help you to create a more resilient and flexible workforce and future proof your business click here now