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Want your company to thrive? Hire adaptable people

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May 2014
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Every workplace has them – employees who are incredibly skilled at a particular task. Maybe it’s creating presentations, or building the perfect spreadsheet. Perhaps they have a strong ability to build relationships with clients or can tell a story through numbers. These people are valuable because of the skills they’ve acquired, but how did they become the “go-to” people in the office? They likely saw a need and were willing to adapt to fill it.

How willing are your employees to adapt their skills to the opportunities available to them? A new report called Adapt to Survive by LinkedIn and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analyzes the ability of labour markets to adapt to evolving demands. We looked at the willingness of employees to learn new skills and how employers value adaptability in their work force. It turns out that the more adaptable your employees are, the more productive they will be. Productivity is higher because people and jobs are better matched. Poor talent alignment is costing Canadian companies as much as $1.9-billion in lost productivity annually, the study found.

How can you change your practices to ensure you’re hiring the most adaptable talent? I have three suggestions that can help your company find the ideal candidate, and save time and money in the process.

1. Look inside

It seems natural for the organizations to look outside the company to hire, but what if the ideal candidate is right under your nose? Current employees may not immediately jump to mind when you’re writing out the responsibilities and requirements for a new role, but becoming more adaptable means a willingness for employees to address gaps in their skills and experience to match job requirements. Don’t overlook who is right in front of you.

Traditional pay and performance review processes do not typically reward employees for being adaptable. Think about how you want to recognize adaptability within your company, or even how you may actually be discouraging it. Are you ignoring the significance of a lateral move, or does an overseas assignment leave employees further behind? Look at how adaptability is being treated in your organization and how to begin seeing this as a true indicator of success.

Only one in 10 jobs are filled through internal promotions within Canadian companies. Finding the right candidate should begin internally and the search only spread out when needed.

2. Find the best

How much time and money does your company spend interviewing candidate after candidate through traditional recruitment methods, but never finding the right match? If the need is great enough, you may even end up hiring a less-than-perfect candidate and regret it when their skills don’t match the role. In Canada, the consequence of compromising is costing employers nearly $2-billion a year, according to the study.

There’s a strong correlation between a country’s use of social professional networks and its adaptability ranking. The Netherlands has embraced social professional networks more than any other country outside the United States and its adaptability score reflects this with its No. 1 ranking in the PwC/LinkedIn Talent Adaptability Score. Canada is ranked third, with 42 per cent of Canadian recruiters citing social professional networks as a top source of quality hires. Social professional networks give organizations access to a larger talent pool, and to both passive and active candidates. This shows us that Canadian employees and employers are benefiting from this form of modern professional matchmaking.

3. Make them great

So you’ve found the right talent. How do you mobilize your employees to reach their full potential?

At LinkedIn, we’re focused on empowering employees to take ownership of their careers, and, by extension, move our business forward. The process of empowerment is a partnership for career success that requires commitment from both the employee and the employer. It is essential for the employee to be clear on their goals and aspirations within the organization and in turn it is management’s responsibility to provide open, honest and a constructive feedback to coach and develop them on the road to success. To help employees become truly successful, we all need to adapt to the ever-changing environment, collaborate on a shared vision of career success and take intelligent risks on opportunities that we might not have traditionally considered.

Adaptability is increasingly a driving force that will have an impact on the success of your company, and the economy as whole. If we can develop a work force that can respond to the changing demands of the fast-moving industries of today, we can close the skills gap and put the Canadian economy on track toward increased prosperity for all.

Brian Church is country manager for Canada and head of sales solutions for North America at LinkedIn (@LinkedIn).

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