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Top Ten Practices That Matter Most for Business Resilience

As an organization dedicated to the professional development of HR, the Josh Bersin Academy wanted to understand what a world-class COVID response looks like. In partnership with Perceptyx, the Josh Bersin Academy surveyed 1,349 HR and business leaders and professionals to analyze 53 different organizational and HR practices and then correlated them against seven different business outcomes to determine what practices had the highest business impact. Read the 38-page report full of examples and best practices here.

Of 53 different practices studied, ten practices drive statistically highest value across all industries, geographies, and company sizes. These ten practices are all about people, and they logically fall into three categories: health and wellbeing, business agility and change, and adaptive transformation.

Figure 1. Top Ten Practices For Business Resilience provided by Josh Bersin Academy (source).
BersinAcademy - TopTenPractices - Resilience Report (1)

Health and Wellbeing: taking care of people and their families

  • Focus support on employee health and safety
  • Aggressively listen to the workforce to define “return to work” plans
  • Create integrated support for families and the entire worker’s life

Business Agility and Change: driving agility and change through mission

  • Reinforce and invigorate focus on purpose and mission
  • Communicate and support agile teams to deal with ambiguity
  • Quickly adopt technology to develop new products and services

Adaptive Transformation: reinvent work, jobs, and talent practices

  • Rapidly, creatively, and strategically hire new, needed talent
  • Heavily leverage contingent and part-time workers
  • Facilitate and support teams to experiment and learn quickly
  • Simplify and speed up performance management

While Some Practices Seem Obvious, They Aren't Easy to Execute Well

Many big companies are designed to focus on compliance and scale, and empowering people to rapidly come up with new programs and rapidly rolling them out, takes a new muscle; one that some companies may not have yet.

Similarly, developing an aggressive program for employee health, wellbeing, and family support forces a lot of new thinking. For example, companies need to not only disinfect their workplaces and design new travel and work protocols, they also need to listen to employees and their fears. For some companies, this can mean letting the employees decide when and how they come back to the office.

Certainly for adaptive talent management (rapidly redeploying people, hiring temporary workers, reorganizing teams into multi-functional projects, and radically simplifying performance management), these programs can take months or years to implement. The report found that companies that adapted very fast, were able to do so because they had developed the muscle to respond.

Other Practices Matter, but Have Much Lower Impact

Many other practices clearly matter, but they don’t have the similar levels of impact. They were more business necessity.

For instance, remote work became a necessity for millions of people overnight, and workers needed support, infrastructure and programs to work well in this new environment. Many organizations successfully ramped up these programs in days, not months or years. (Our Remote Work Bootcamp in the Josh Bersin Academy has become one of our highest-volume learning programs.) We believe effectively supporting remote work has now become a mandate, and all companies have to embrace it and all it entails.

Practices around keeping the physical work environment safe are also now essential. Grocery store workers, delivery drivers, healthcare providers, and warehouse workers all need safe and healthy workplaces. Our research found that organizations responded well with tactics to keep workers safe and healthy through new guidelines, policies and protective gear. Such workplace safety programs were needed to ensure business continuity.

HR teams had to ramp up quickly with new knowledge and tactical responses, ranging from collecting pandemic-related data to bringing together local teams to quickly respond to integrating HR teams with other functional groups.

The Most Successful Organizations Focus on People

Across industries, geographies, and organizational sizes, the most successful organizations are the ones that focus on people.

People-focused practices are not new and have been highlighted as business critical before. Organizations built on the understanding that their greatest advantage lies in the people that work for them and that empower each person to be psychologically and physically safe and have a say in their work are the ones that are much more resilient for any crisis.

The challenges the pandemic created are new and ever changing, but adaptive organizations with human-centered people practices will lead through this crisis and beyond.

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