Adaptable Employees: Characteristics & Importance

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Nothing stays the same. That's why businesses need adaptable employees to stay in business. What you'll learn in this lesson is how to identify an adaptable employee and why they are so important.

Adaptable Employees

Adaptable employees are the backbone of successful companies that are able to change with the times. An adaptable employee is someone who isn't afraid of change and can easily shift gears and focus. It's someone who doesn't get flustered when changes come. For example, when working on a team, and the project specs need to be changed last minute, adaptable employees won't shy away from this challenge. Instead, they embrace it and work with it to find the best solution.

Adaptable employees are not afraid of change.
adaptable employees

Things change, and consumers often change their desires for things. In order to stay in business and offer people what they want, a business needs to keep changing how it does business. Facebook, for example, had to change course several times in order to stay successful. Now, it has become the most popular social media network thanks to its adaptive employees that help make the company adaptable.


So, how can you find adaptable employees for your company? Here are some characteristics to look for:

Adaptable people like to experiment and are curious. They want to find out what will happen. They don't mind uncertainties but rather embrace them, as they learn through experimenting. Instead of worrying about failing, adaptable people see opportunities as they experiment.

Instead of complaining about changes, they think ahead, looking for ways to be successful, using whatever resources they have access to. They are also open to new ideas instead of being stuck in old ways of doing things.


Adaptable employees are a very important part of an adaptable company. Without adaptable employees, a company won't and can't adjust to changing market conditions. For example, Blockbuster died because they wouldn't or couldn't adjust to the new streaming technology that more and more people were adopting (think Netflix).

Facebook is an excellent example, as this company has had to change goals several times to stay successful. These may not seem like big changes, but they affect how Facebook advertises itself, which in turn changes how the company interacts with its customers. At first, Facebook was only open to college students with a .edu email address. Early users liked the exclusivity and embraced Facebook. Limiting access to only college students severely limited the pool of potential customers for Facebook. In 2005, Facebook opened up to high school students as well. A year later, Facebook opened up to anyone over 13 years of age.

Over the years, Facebook allowed businesses to create their own Facebook accounts. Facebook then introduced targeted ads. Now anyone can place a particular post or account on Facebook. There is also a local marketplace where people can sell their used items to other local Facebook users. Users can also open up a Facebook store to sell their own items. Facebook has changed a lot since it began as strictly a sharing platform for college students.

Developing Adaptable Employees

If your current team lacks in the adaptability department, don't worry. There are ways to encourage your employees to grow in their ability to adapt and change as needed.

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