Businesses That Embrace Change Face Fewer Obstacles During Disruptions, New RGP Study Finds

“A Model for Human Agility” reveals the common characteristics of agile organizations in the Now of Work

RGP , a next-generation global human capital firm, released the findings of a long-term original research study that examined how businesses can overcome obstacles presented by disruption. The study, “Human Agility in the Now of Work,” takes a quantitative and qualitative look at how Fortune 1000 businesses are adapting to forces of disruption, macro events and change, and explores how organizations can shift their perspective to view disruption as an opportunity.

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“It’s not just the unexpected macro events like the pandemic that create extraordinary organizational challenges – even expected change can create uncertainty”

RGP surveyed more than 200 C-suite leaders and entry-level employees from 117 companies across all Fortune 1000 industry sectors, and obtained insights through panel discussions, one-on-one interviews, a virtual workshop and quantitative survey over the course of six months. The research shows that organizations with a deep-rooted culture of innovation are more likely to experience 15 percent more benefits and fewer obstacles from large or sudden change events. However, more than 40 percent of executives and employees surveyed indicate that their organizations fail to change until their bottom line is at risk.

“It’s not just the unexpected macro events like the pandemic that create extraordinary organizational challenges – even expected change can create uncertainty,” said RGP CEO Kate Duchene. “It is essential for businesses to see change not as a burden or threat, but as an opportunity for growth and innovation. This requires a recipe for agility that is characterized by radical empathy, democratization of power, broadly distributed knowledge, nimble financial mindsets, a culture of flexibility and a foundation of continuous listening.”

Many Fortune 1000 organizations have already embraced a culture of flexibility, with nearly 60 percent of research participants saying their company supports alternatives to the traditional 9-to-5 workday.

The findings show that organizations with leaders who embrace innovation experience 16 percent fewer obstacles than those who do not. Businesses that actively increase diversity experience (+18 percent) and invest in workplace experience (+12 percent) see more benefits than companies that do not.

“We found that what equips businesses to thrive through disruption mirrors the characteristics that enable humans to survive,” said RGP President and COO Tim Brackney. “Every time an organization lives through a major change event, it develops communal knowledge and experience, forming a sort of muscle memory. The more an organization infuses agility into their people, processes and technology, the more benefits they realize and value they create.”

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Organizations that are successfully navigating disruption to capitalize on opportunities rather than viewing them as threats share five core characteristics:

  • Distributed Leadership moves decisions out of the C-suite, encouraging diverse voices across the organization to co-own the vision and execute it into reality.
  • A Culture of Flexibility supports empathetic management and enhances a sense of belonging for your workforce.
  • Resilient Operations proactively design opportunities for change to enable rapid response to market changes.
  • Nimble Finances support real-time monitoring and reallocation of funding to make proactive investments.
  • Continuous Listening enables organizations to amplify their ability to benefit from change by listening to their employees, customers, industry and the world.

“The need to adapt to a changing environment has always been key to both human and business survival, but the velocity of change we face in today’s Now of Work environment is unprecedented,” said Kate Duchene. “To keep up and thrive amid this accelerated pace of change, businesses need to infuse human agility into their corporate and cultural DNA, and it’s the radically empathetic organizations that will have the tools to evolve.”