Australian workers are more agile and innovative than their risk-averse bosses according to new research released today.
Workforce and recruitment experts Chandler Macleod has released its annual Workplace Barometer which highlights the divide between the ability of staff to adapt versus the lack of vision and willingness of management to act.
The new research found while those at the top understood the importance of agility, few seemed able to put the theory into practice.
Conversely the report highlighted that workers and managers at the coal face had both the skills and experience to navigate through change provided they were given the opportunity.
Chandler Macleod Chief Operating Officer, Cameron Judson, said companies were sending the wrong message to their workforces by tightening controls in tough times when they should be empowering them to take control.
He said the report showed that while industries such as manufacturing were leading the way in Australia in terms of agility, others such as mining, despite its prolific growth, were becoming more cumbersome.
Growth often leads to an obsession with duplicating processes and unnecessary bureaucracy, but begins to pinch when agility is the skill and mindset needed most,”he said.
Mr Judson said that“agility”will be more than just a business buzzword in 2012 with continuing economic turbulence making business conditions difficult to navigate.
The Chandler Macleod Workplace Barometer, Organisational Agility: Navigating the Maze, found that:
- 95 per cent of Australian companies believe they need to be faster and more agile in order to survive, but few are doing anything about it.
- 75 per cent of companies believe they have become more agile since the global financial crisis, but 69 per cent said they have difficulty in keeping customers satisfied in an ever changing environment.
- 21 per cent of respondents from the mining sector said they had become slower and less agile since the GFC.
- 64 per cent thought they could easily predict the skills they would require in the next 12 months while 87 per cent said they would have difficulty finding staff with those skills.
- 56 per cent of companies claim to have increased their focus on staff retention but only 42 per cent have any long term succession plans for critical roles.
The two main barriers to agility were associated with poor structure and leadership issues
Mr Judson said the report was quite revealing in that it highlighted the gaps in strategy for many Australian companies.
“Companies, both big and small, will need to become more agile if they are going to survive 2012,”he said.
“One month into the new year and we are already anticipating a tough year for business with the announcement of massive redundancies in a number of industries.
“Companies that have embraced agility through the use of flexible workforces, both permanent and temporary, will be able to take advantage of changing market conditions.
“Those that haven’t will continue to walk the fine line between boom and bust with the ever present tension between job creation and job destruction.”
However Mr Judson said simply loading up with contractors and consultants would not provide agility if there was no structural change at the same time.
“The mining sector would appear to be classic example of this,”he said.
“While the report shows they are enthusiastic adopters of flexible workforces through outsourcing (61 per cent increase) and the use of contractors (72 per cent increase) and consultants (59 per cent increase), they are also perceived by their own workforce as being slow to react (53 per cent) and less likely to give staff the autonomy and responsibility to act (46 per cent decrease).
In contrast, the report indicates that in the manufacturing sector the use of contractors and the like is very similar to the mining sector and yet the majority (53 per cent) said their company was quick to react and were more likely to give staff the autonomy and responsibility to act (61 per cent increase).”
Mr Judson defined organisational agility as the capacity to identify and capture opportunities more quickly than your rivals and said that since the GFC many companies had become risk averse and, as a consequence, missed golden opportunities.
He said it was imperative that companies challenge traditional HR practices and management structures if they are to cater for the growing diversity in modern workplaces and create greater agility.
Companies that have a culture of empowering their employees to initiate and encourage training and internal promotion will survive and become more agile and prosper.”
A complete copy of the report can be obtained from www.workplacebarometer.com.au.
Cameron Judson is available for comment and interviews. Please contact Peter Turnbull for further information.
For media inquiries contact:
Big Splash Communications
Ph:07 3395 0772 M: 0401 501 514