Randstad: Mastering the 5 Bs of talent management. Building workforce agility in the AI era


How equipping a ‘buy, bind, boost, borrow and bot’ mindset can help.

Equipping your organization with the necessary skills to meet strategic objectives is a paramount concern for HR and talent professionals. The "5Bs" approach — buy, bind, boost, borrow and bot — provides a comprehensive framework for acquiring these capabilities and addressing related challenges.

1. Buy: Acquire specialized knowledge and skills
When in-house skill development isn't feasible within the required timeframe, buying skills through hiring permanent or temporary staff becomes essential. However, this approach depends heavily on the talent market and budget constraints. The scarcity of certain technical skills can drive up costs and complicate acquisition efforts.

Evaluate whether internal candidates can fill these roles with the appropriate training. Training internal talent may be more time-efficient and cost-effective. Moreover, it avoids the acclimatization period external hires need to understand your business culture, systems and processes.

However, introducing new hires can enhance team diversity and bring fresh perspectives. Employing specialists who can cascade their knowledge can upskill existing staff, effectively blending new and internal expertise.

Evaluate whether internal candidates can fill these roles with the appropriate training. Training internal talent may be more time-efficient and cost-effective. Moreover, it avoids the acclimatization period external hires need to understand your business culture, systems and processes.

However, introducing new hires can enhance team diversity and bring fresh perspectives. Employing specialists who can cascade their knowledge can upskill existing staff, effectively blending new and internal expertise.

2. Bind, boost and build: Develop an internal pipeline
McKinsey & Company research indicates that reskilling often yields positive economic returns, controlling salary costs, shortening onboarding times and boosting morale. Invest in hiring candidates with a high potential for learning and adaptability, then nurture their development through robust training and retention strategies.

While competitive salaries and bonuses are significant, flexibility has become a crucial motivator post-COVID-19. Offering remote or hybrid working options, compressed hours, or a four-day workweek can significantly enhance retention.

Employees increasingly seek purpose beyond profit and continuous learning opportunities. Targeted upskilling and reskilling initiatives not only boost individual performance but also ensure organizational resilience against technological disruptions. You can also harness adjacent skills and connect skills to create new capabilities.

For instance, at Randstad, we identified employees pursuing digital skills through internal training programs and transitioned them into new roles requiring these skills. This proactive approach resulted in a 90% retention rate in their new digital positions, demonstrating the effectiveness of aligning training with employee interests and motivations.

3. Borrow: Leverage temporary skills when you need them
Borrowing skills can be a cost-efficient strategy for short-term needs. Cultivating a talent community that includes part-time, freelance, contract and contingent workers complements your permanent workforce, creating a flexible pool of skills to draw from as needed.

This might involve reallocating internal resources to specific projects or leveraging the gig economy. Internal mobility, through rotations or temporary assignments, keeps employees engaged and adaptable.

4. Bounce: Let go obsolete skills and knowledge
Encourage employees to unlearn outdated skills and processes, fostering a culture of continuous learning. With human knowledge doubling every 12 hours and half of all skills potentially becoming obsolete within two years due to AI, adaptability is crucial.

For example, leadership paradigms have shifted from "command and control" to interactive collaboration. Technologies advance rapidly, as seen with the evolution from dial-up internet to smartphones.

Provide ample learning opportunities and safe environments for employees to embrace new skills. Focus on inherent human qualities such as adaptability, creativity, problem-solving and communication, which remain relevant regardless of technological changes.

5. Bot: Enhance performance with automation
Automation technologies can manage repetitive tasks, freeing workers for higher-level functions. Technologies analyzing real-time data can make faster, better decisions, enhancing human performance rather than replacing it.

For example, tech can analyze real-time data from sensors, cameras and other sources to make quicker and better decisions than any human could. However, there are many crucial human qualities that robots will never be able to replicate, such as empathy and leadership.

There is understandable concern around generative AI and its extension into professional fields previously untouched by it — from writing and research to law and medicine. To calm these fears, involve your people in the adoption and roll-out of new tech solutions, providing optimal consultation and communication at every stage of the process.

HR policies that prioritize employee involvement, training and consultation in technology decisions positively influence how employees perceive and embrace technology, according to research by Warwick Business School. The research found that when employees are actively involved in decision-making regarding technology, it not only enhances their understanding of its potential, but also instills a sense of ownership. Positive perceptions of technology adoption translate into higher adoption rates.

Prioritize employee involvement, training and consultation in tech implementation. Recognize the human need for adaptation and ensure that technological changes consider work quality and employee well-being alongside productivity.

By mastering the 5Bs of talent management, organizations can build workforce agility, ensuring they are well-equipped to thrive in the AI era.


About Randstad Enterprise
Randstad Enterprise is the leading global talent solutions provider, enabling companies to create sustainable business value and agility by keeping people at the heart of their organizations. As part of Randstad N.V. — a global talent leader with revenue of € 25.4 billion — we combine unmatched talent data and market insights with smart technologies and deep people expertise. Our integrated talent solutions — talent acquisition (RPO, MSP, services procurement/SOW and talent BPO) delivered through Randstad Sourceright, and talent development and transition (talent mobility, career coaching and outplacement) delivered through Randstad RiseSmart — help companies build a skilled and agile workforce that moves their business forward.

For more information, visit www.randstadenterprise.com.