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Are Asian Businesses Struggling to be Agile? While businesses around the world are entering into the "Agility Era", Asian businesses seem to be a little less vigorous about it

By Komal Nathani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Since the time "agility" has become a buzzword, businesses around the globe are waking up to its benefits and need in the workplaces. Often we see the term "agility" taking rounds on social media, but how much have we known about it?

What is agility, and how does it matter in business?

Business agility can be defined as an ability to respond rapidly to the changes in an internal and external environment without losing momentum or vision for it, according to Paul Rehmet, the author at Agility.

While businesses around the world are entering into the "Agility Era", Asian businesses seem to be a little less vigorous about it.

A latest workplace agility barometer report titled as "Agility + Ability – to enable business growth" says, "Two in three businesses in the Asia-Pacific are not quick enough to redesign the workforce to meet urgent business needs."

With a lot of workplace disruptions taking place, Asian companies need to have an agile environment, which allows an organization to respond to change quickly and efficiently.

The report underscores three important trends that define why agility is an urgent need in the Asia-Pacific region,

  • Lack of Understanding in HRs to Enable Agility

The HR department has a big role to play when it comes to enabling agility in human resources of companies. The reforms in the organization come with a responsive behaviour of HRs that allows the business to climb a rapid growth. With so many external changes taking place in an organization, it's the core responsibility of the HR department to be quick with decisions. The study found that while HR departments are capable of hiring key roles within a short span of time, a lot can be done to provide strategic insights. Only 31 per cent of C-suite leaders in the region believe that their HR function is capable of providing strategic workforce insights, which is much lesser from last year's 37 per cent.

The report suggests that the HRs need to think beyond the traditional methods of recruiting, training and development of employees, to become a change agent. They should rather lead the change through effective business partnerships.

  • The Contingent Workforce Continues to Grow

The report found that the contingent workforce in Asia is growing profusely. It found that the average tenures of permanent workers are getting shorter with half of an organization's workforce staying for fewer than three years.

The April KellyOCG report also confirms a rise in gig economy. "Three out of four free agents choose a free agency for positive reasons. 97 per cent of businesses using free agents report overall satisfaction," says 2 April report of this year.

The KellyOCG report notes that the organization must stay focused on maintaining a balance between contingent and permanent workforce as it affects the organization's discipline and devotion.

  • Changing Worker Preferences

The report finds that most C-suite level executives want to work on their own terms. It says that the current workforce at C-suite level is the most multi-generational workforce ever as it not just includes Gen X or Y but also Z.

"As automation gathers pace, re-skilling, retraining and redeploying employees to perform more analytical and higher-value jobs must take place in early stages of adoption of new technology," says Peter Hamilton, KellyOCG Asia-Pacific's vice president and regional director in the report.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!


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