In operational terms, the concept of agility can be defined as employees’ capacity to gather and disseminate information about changes in the environment, and respond to that information quickly and expediently. From a strategic perspective, this combination of speed and data-driven innovation is increasingly important for many businesses to maintain a competitive advantage.
At Gallup, we measure agility by asking workers for their level of agreement with two general statements about their organisations:
• In my company, we have the right mindset to respond quickly to business needs.
• In my company, we have the right tools and processes to respond quickly to business needs.
Our recent study of employees in France, Germany, Spain and the UK provides a look at how they view their organisations’ capacity for agility. They point to considerable room for improvement in all four countries; in none of the four do more than about one in six employees (16%) fall into the “agile” category — meaning they feel strongly that their companies have both the mindset and the right tools and processes to respond quickly to business needs.
The importance of a company’s ability to respond quickly to business needs is reflected in a clear relationship between
these perceptions and employees’ optimism regarding their organisation’s overall performance. Employees who view their company as “agile” are significantly more likely than those who do not to have confidence in its financial future, and to feel it is ahead of the competition.