Healthy people = healthy profits

Wellbeing and mental health are trending topics and for good reason! Many individuals and organisations are campaigning to end the stigma around mental health by raising awareness of the issue and fighting for better treatment and support being made available.

And businesses are catching on. More organisations than ever before are prioritising employee wellbeing and mental health over company profits. And this change in business approaches is yielding exceptional results.

Reduction in healthcare costs
It goes without saying that healthy employees cost you less. Most organisations pay out around $13,000 per employee on healthcare costs every year. And if you have an employee count of over 1,000…well, you do the maths. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that, when it comes to health, prevention is nearly always better than cure.

For many organisations, introducing office perks such as standing desks, healthy snacks, mental health treatment, gym memberships, and mindfulness initiatives have been great ways to support mental health and reduce health issues resulting from a sedentary lifestyle. “High-powered professionals often prioritise work over their own health. As laudable as this is, it can be unsustainable,” says Kayla Gill, content director at LuxuryRehabs.com. “It’s possible to achieve your goals while still living a healthy life.”

People want to work for ethical companies and so adopting these kinds of programmes can provide the added bonus of attracting and maintaining top talent

The rise of obesity and stress can have an extremely negative effect on employee performance. So, by taking proactive steps and caring for the mental and physical wellbeing of your team,you will see a reduction in medical claim costs and employee absences.

Improve recruitment and retention

Employees who are unhappy leave their workplace in search of somewhere better. Organisations that don’t prioritise the mental health of their employees will see a higher rate of employee turnover and find it harder to retain their top talent. Turnover costs US employers over $1 trillion a year.

Creating health programmes and enforcing wellness activities for employees are great ways to provide a healthy outlet for managing stress. This can make for a happier working environment. And a happier team means a more engaged and satisfied one.

What’s more, adopting health and wellness programmes shows potential employees that you are an ethical company that cares about treating people right and supporting them in all aspects of their lives.

People want to work for ethical companies and so adopting these kinds of programmes can provide the added bonus of attracting and maintaining top talent.

Boost productivity and engagement

Employees that are dissatisfied at work and struggling with their mental health will often be less productive and struggle to engage. Companies that prioritise employee wellbeing will see the mental health of employees improve, as well as their resilience to stress, their decision-making, their relationships with colleagues, and their approach to work.

Employee engagement is the gold standard for business success. Engaged and highly motivated employees will always do their best work and tend to go above and beyond what is required of them. Employee wellbeing and good engagement and productivity rates go hand-in-hand. One affects the other. Employees whose wellbeing in the workplace is prioritised are twice as likely to be engaged and productive at work.

If you aren’t investing in the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, you should be. Better mental health means boosted employee productivity and engagement, ultimately leading to higher profits and success for your business.

Better customer service
The better your customer service, the more customers you will attract and retain. Great customer service is central to the success of your business. Organisations that excel in customer service see the results of their efforts in the financial success of their businesses.

However, the success of your customer service will depend on the mental health and wellbeing of your employees. An overworked, stressed, or struggling employee will ultimately result in poor customer service. And this can hurt your brand reputation.

In contrast, employees that are well looked after and have high wellbeing tend to provide far better customer service, show more enthusiasm for their job, and be more productive in their role. These factors alone can boost business turnover and help win and retain high numbers of new customers.

Improve brand reputation

As a brand, if you support the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, it won’t take long for others to hear about your efforts. Employees love to shout from the rooftops about organisations they work for that allow for benefits such as flexible working hours, unlimited holidays, gym memberships, health insurance, and paid therapist appointments.

Organisations that provide the mental health of their staff are more likely to be highly favoured by their team, potential employees, and their customers. When people know that you care they are more likely to care about you, too. And in order to grow your business, you want people to care about it. So, supporting the mental health and wellness of your team is a great place to start.

Final words
Prioritising the mental health and physical wellness of your employees doesn’t just benefit them, it can also benefit your business. Healthier employees are happier employees and that means better job satisfaction, higher motivation levels, and increased company loyalty.



Redefining presenteeism in the workplace

Matt Jenkins argues that there are many reasons why people feel they can’t bring their “real self” to the workplace, which affects their productivity and retention of talent.
Many are familiar with the phrase “”Presenteeism‘As a person who gets a job even if he is ill. From coughs and colds to burnout and illness, people who go to work are less engaged and can be distracting.With vitality Reported by the BBC in June of this year Eighty-three percent of workers reported that presenteeism was present in the workplace. The quarter says it has deteriorated over the past year. There is no doubt that presenteeism is becoming an increasing threat to businesses around the world. However, there is a whole new category of presenteeism that needs to be considered. The idea is that an individual feels that he or she cannot bring his or her true self into the workplace, such as an extroverted or introverted personality, a sexual orientation, or a true expression of race or culture.

Hidden employee
Last year’s report from the Bureau of Higher Education Statistics (Hesa) found that African-American and Caribbean-black graduates were 6.3 points and 7.9 percent less likely to be satisfied with their work than white graduates.This is in addition to CIPD study found that LGBT + employees are more likely to experience workplace conflicts It’s more harassing than heterosexual or cisgender opponents.

Before Covid-19, there was a commonly held understanding of what it meant to be ‘present’ at work – it typically meant daily attendance at a particular office building. The term presenteeism was coined to describe the phenomenon at its extreme, and most work activities were based on co-location in a physical space. In fact, most forms of career advancement were generally considered to depend entirely on physical presence in the workplace for a regimented period of time.

However, since Covid-19 accelerated pre-existing trends towards more remote and flexible working, the concept of being ‘present’ at work has shifted. The pandemic eroded the concept that presence relies on physical co-location because for the past 18 months employees have had no choice but to be ‘digitally present’ as they work more flexibly across a range of settings, including their home.

The flexibility of work has not only impacted the space we work in, but also time. ‘Presence’ was once synonymous only with synchronous work, in which people work together on things at the same time (usually at a single office location). Now it is also an aspect of asynchronous work, in which work doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone and the cloud is the key location.

The workplace of the future

It is increasingly becoming clear that this redefinition of presence asks new questions of the office building. It can no longer be a dumb and unresponsive container for work activities carried out synchronously by a workforce that is physically attendant on a consistent and unchanging basis. In the post-pandemic era; it must become a smart and connected entity that can curate and manage the interactions of an office population whose presence will fluctuate with demand and reflect more unpredictable working patterns.

The pandemic has raised several debates in corporate real estate teams about the purpose of the office. While there is no single answer to this conundrum, the universal response in that the corporate office building will remain of critical importance as a hub to build culture and generate social capital, to seed innovation and train staff. But it will no longer be the only channel for work and it will no longer require daily attendance. In what some commentators have described as ‘omni-channel working,’ employees will work in the future via multiple channels. The task of the office building will be to become a ‘destination of choice’ that brings the right people together at the right time with the right tools for certain face-to-face activities.

The future-ready connected office

If ‘presence’ in the workplace is no longer a one-dimensional idea, but an increasingly multi-faceted one, then a stable, effective and unobtrusive digital infrastructure is needed to underpin all the emerging considerations around hybrid ways of working. Software and systems architecture need to seamlessly plug into the physical workplace and connect to other systems to work effectively and seamlessly to create the most flexible and collaborative work experience. Smart systems should be modular and scalable, so that companies can test the principles of the connected office at a basic level and be future-ready to scale up. In this context, the use of LED connected lighting with embedded IoT (Internet of Things) sensors makes a lot of sense from an operational and design perspective.

Academic research in the field of environmental psychology suggests that the continuing endurance of the office building is because it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively. There are fundamental psychological reasons why we need to be physically co-located to support creativity and innovation. As researchers Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel predicted in the Harvard Business Review in 2016: ‘Human aggregation, friction, and the interaction of our minds are vital aspects of work, especially in the creative industries. And that is why the quality of the physical workplace is becoming more crucial than ever.’

After the pandemic, the quality of the physical workplace will increasingly include smart systems and software to connect the infrastructure as part of a collaborative ecosystem. A shift in what it means to be present at work has seen to that



A new role for business leaders: Moral integrator

Claire was looking forward to the long holiday weekend. After two brutal weeks of late nights and early mornings getting ready for a new product launch, dealing with supplier disruptions in China, and managing a sudden labor shortage in Germany, the Fortune 500 CEO was ready to catch her breath and spend some quality time with her family. The plan was to leave first thing Saturday morning to beat the traffic headed to the shore. Instead of the alarm, though, Claire awoke to her cellphone buzzing. It was her company’s general counsel. The night before, one of the company’s top executives had been recorded drunkenly berating a waiter in racist and homophobic terms. Posted to TikTok within minutes, the video had already amassed more than 2.5 million views and was spreading like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook. Social media commentators were demanding action, institutional investors were calling, and requests for comment were flooding in from major news outlets. “Claire, how do you want to handle this?” asked the lawyer on the other end of the line.

In the past, few executives might have considered addressing social issues as part of their job description. Now, in an era when a single tweet can obliterate US$4 billion of a company’s value, it’s become even more important for leaders to understand how to negotiate this sensitive territory: in fact, it’s a business imperative. Executives need to know how to make sense of and engage with these issues so they can simultaneously deliver business results that satisfy shareholders, build trust with their employees, and meet the expectation many have that organizations are responsible for driving more equitable outcomes for society.

And the issues on the table are expanding rapidly. We saw this when North Carolina passed a bill in 2016 banning transgender people from using bathrooms in public buildings that did not correspond with their birth sex. Payments firm PayPal responded by curtailing its investments in the state, and performers canceled concerts and events. Amy Cooper, an employee of financial-services firm Franklin Templeton, was summarily dismissed by the company in 2020 after social media channels exploded with outrage over a viral video of her racially charged altercation with a Black bird-watcher in New York’s Central Park. More recently, when state legislatures proposed laws to restrict voting rights in Georgia, locally headquartered companies Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola eventually came out against the move, following heated public debates. Underlying these demands is the notion that businesses have certain moral and ethical obligations to the public.

More PwC insights

Ten Years to Midnight
Increasingly, ordinary people, customers, employees, suppliers, and even social media influencers expect leaders to speak out and act ethically, and immediately, when it comes to issues of justice and equity in their organizations—and in society at large. These emerging leadership challenges cannot be delegated or outsourced if companies are to build and retain stakeholder trust. And they most certainly weren’t on the radar when most of today’s executives were in business school or working their way up the corporate ladder. No, these new challenges require a fundamental shift in how business leaders understand and practice ethical leadership.

The present conceptualization of ethical leadership considers leaders as moral individuals within their organization (and increasingly in society). But it does not address how to bridge the gap between internal and external stakeholders’ expectations. The negotiation of this complex set of relationships requires the integration of what might appear to be competing codes and values: the fiduciary responsibility to maximize investment returns versus the moral obligation to fulfill the organization’s stated purpose and contribute positively to the external world. It’s a difficult balancing act. For example, retrofitting manufacturing plants to cut carbon emissions in support of environmental sustainability goals may be the right thing to do. But it can cost a company hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades and lost productivity, negatively affect quarterly earnings, erode the balance sheet, and depress share price.

CEOs, rather than being heroes or charismatic leaders, have to become moral integrators: people who recognize this tension and have the self-awareness to use collaboration and listening skills to navigate a world in which accountability is defined in different ways by different audiences.

Defining ethical leadership
Morals are an individual’s standards for right behavior. Ethics are the codification of individuals’ morals that inform the decisions they make and the actions they take. For instance, a person who believes institutionally raising animals for food is morally wrong may choose to adopt an ethic of veganism.

CEOs, rather than being heroes or charismatic leaders, have to become moral integrators: people who have the self-awareness to navigate a world in which accountability is defined in different ways.

So, what is ethical leadership, and where does moral integration fit in? Ethical leadership came into its own starting in the early 2000s, largely in response to corporate scandals such as that at Enron, the high-profile energy company that collapsed owing to fraud. Historically, the academic literature has defined ethical leaders as both “moral persons,” meaning that they themselves act in a moral fashion, and “moral managers,” meaning that they foster an environment that inspires or compels others to behave morally.

This definition has since been enhanced by introducing the dimension of moral entrepreneurship, whereby leaders innovate new norms of behavior that contribute to society’s moral development and build stakeholder trust. Consider the CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, Dan Price, who in 2015 instituted a $70,000 minimum salary among his employees, or the menstrual hygiene company that includes people of diverse gender expressions in its advertising rather than only cisgender (people whose sense of identity corresponds with their birth sex) women.

The operational and financial benefits of ethical leadership are significant and demonstrable. Studies show that ethical leadership improves the bottom line and produces returns. It directly combats corporate wrongdoing, such as financial fraud. There’s a link between ethical leaders and positive employee performance. When employees trust their leaders to act ethically, they are more willing to speak up when they see something wrong. The employees of ethical leaders tend to be more satisfied with their jobs and more willing to go the extra mile. In social psychology, that’s called organizational citizen behavior (OCB). OCB describes discretionary actions on the part of employees that are outside the formal performance management and compensation systems and beneficial (or intended to be beneficial) to the organization. For instance, OCB is demonstrated by that salaried employee who stays late and works over the weekend to help others meet a pressing deadline, or the one who volunteers to organize office-wide social events and brings homemade treats for team members’ birthdays. Ethical leaders increase OCB, and studies have demonstrated that OCB is a contributing factor to enhanced firm performance.

Two case studies
As part of my doctoral studies, I analyzed how organizations applied ethical leadership in response to publicized incidents of anti-Black racism involving their employees. The goal was to test the idea for the role of moral integrator. I focused on two cases that took place in the United States in the last three years within publicly traded companies. The cases followed the same basic pattern: a casual observer’s smartphone video of an employee demonstrating racist behavior went viral; social media users quickly identified the employee’s company and flooded its social media accounts with demands for an organizational response.

In one case, the event occurred in the workplace; in the other, it transpired outside the office, but the location did not appear to make a difference in how the public reacted. In both cases, the companies responded to the outcry with a mix of statements on social media, press releases, and traditional news interviews with corporate executives detailing the steps the company was taking to address the situation.

The employee in one of the cases was terminated as soon as the video went viral. In a video interview with a business news outlet, the company’s CEO discussed the decision to immediately fire the employee in terms of aligning management’s actions with the organization’s stated values, claiming “zero tolerance for any kind of racism.” Journalists questioned the CEO’s portrayal of the company’s ethos, noting that former executives and current board members had financially supported political candidates with ties to white nationalism and that the company’s track record of hiring and promoting underrepresented groups was abysmal.

In an open letter on the company’s website, the CEO repeated the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) to her personally and to the company, noting that D&I directly contributed to delivering superior service to clients and returns for investors. However, none of the company’s public quarterly or annual reports bore any mention of D&I. The topic was also absent from the two earnings calls following the event. Neither the company’s leaders nor the analysts raised it.

The response in this first case exemplified a lack of moral integration by the organization’s leaders. Although the CEO made the expected remarks in the media about the incident and about the company’s values, and the company acted quickly to discipline the employee, when it came to communicating with investors and proactively taking a stand on the issue of racism, the executives were silent. The message conveyed was that the company outwardly presented an image of caring about D&I but inwardly considered it irrelevant to investors. In other words, talk of anti-racism was a show for the public rather than a topic for the boardroom. The company’s response did not move the dial or signal that this was a watershed moment. To a degree, it came from a standard tool kit. Firing an employee for behavior that violates a company’s code of conduct is an established human resources practice.

Public reaction to the company’s handling of this incident was mixed. Members of the business press heaped praise on the CEO for being so passionate about D&I. Social media commentators lamented the lack of tangible outcomes, noting that firing a single employee and returning to business as usual did not address systemic issues. Ultimately, the incident and the company’s response did not appear to hurt earnings or share price. The executives lived up to their fiduciary responsibility to investors but not to the expectations of some stakeholders.

In the second case I examined, the executives approached their response differently. The employee was not terminated as a result of the incident. Rather than focusing on the employee, the CEO and other leaders concentrated on the broader issue of racism in business and society. They framed the event as management’s failure to properly train and educate employees about unconscious racial bias. “This is on me and my team,” said the CEO. Some cable news journalists questioned whether this response from the company would make it a target for activists looking to create trouble for prominent brands. One interviewer seemed to imply that the problem was the recording and sharing of the event rather than the incident itself. The executives dismissed this notion. Instead, they acknowledged that they could not eradicate racism because it was a systemic issue in society—but they could address it within their company. And they transparently put forth a plan to start driving change there. Moreover, they made their training curriculum freely available online for other organizations to use.

The incident and the cost the company incurred in responding to it were proactively discussed by the executives on the two earnings calls following the event and mentioned in the quarterly and annual reports. Most importantly, these executives were humble. They met with the individuals who were harmed in the incident and apologized. They also listened to concerns from community groups and publicly shared what they learned. The company’s earnings and stock price rose following the incident, and the company earned praise from stakeholders across the board.

In both cases, the executives were trying to perform a delicate operation of integrating their personal ethics with both the expectations of organizational stakeholders and their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. These goals may not always seem to be aligned because of the costs involved in delivering to stakeholders in the short term. Companies know they must build and maintain trust with societal stakeholders by acting in accordance with evolving societal norms for ethical conduct. The recent focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) programs and reporting reflects the awareness of this imperative among investors and analysts.

How to incorporate moral integration
How can CEOs both head off incidents that will spark a backlash and send messages that all stakeholders will accept?

In the two cases analyzed here, certain executives stood out because they simultaneously managed stakeholder and shareholder expectations, particularly regarding the ability of businesses to bring about social change in their organizations; and they listened to stakeholders and shareholders with discernment. They engaged in difficult conversations with individuals who had been harmed by the events involving their employees, and publicly acknowledged, with humility, the challenges their businesses faced.

They reframed the issue of corporate participation in efforts to promote social welfare as investments that benefited the business as well as society, not purely as an expense. For example, the CEO in the second case explained that the company was investing in its culture to directly enhance customer experience and said that this would drive revenue and market share—key contributors to share value. The CEO put the company’s actions into words that linked ethical leadership practices to fiduciary responsibilities in terms investors understood and could appreciate.

One way to emulate this approach is to learn how to have the right kinds of conversations. This is where coaching can help. Dialogue should not be performative, appropriated by corporations solely for the self-serving goal of enhancing organizational efficacy. Coaches can support organizational leaders in practicing ethical leadership by helping them make sense of these complex situations and then, through dialogue, creating lively exchanges and mutual understanding between groups with seemingly competing priorities.

Another element to encourage is heightened self-awareness. Self-awareness prepares leaders to better trust their instincts and act in alignment with their values. Both elements are critical to the practice of ethical leadership. In the second case study above, the self-aware leader instinctively acted with humility and tried to address the systemic cause of the problem: racism in society.

Self-awareness also improves resilience. The surest way to cause people to burn out is to make them do something for money they believe to be wrong. To engage in more effective and productive dialogue, leaders will need to develop a strong sense of how their words and actions affect others. Among the many ways to cultivate self-awareness, mindfulness is one of the most powerful. Mindfulness is often trivialized, despite neuroscientific research demonstrating its value.

Every day, executives are facing events and realities that require moral integration: viral videos of racist language from employees, pay equity concerns, sustainability targets, and ransomware demands, to name a few. They need the ability to operate beyond existing leadership practices. They need to understand how to connect in more authentic ways with stakeholders without compromising their integrity. As moral integrators, they can help influence their shareholders to accept initiatives aimed at advancing social justice by translating their actions into terms compatible with their fiduciary relationship. Similarly, organizational leaders can work with stakeholders to understand their concerns and desires for change and identify approaches for implementing solutions. Ultimately, these approaches can deliver results that build trust in society and produce sustainable shareholder value.



The Power of Sign Language to Create a More Connected and Inclusive World

Like most college and university presidents, I find this fall to be an especially promising time as our schools have resumed face-to-face instruction across the country. We no longer take for granted the power of learning in the physical presence of others. While learning can be effectively achieved virtually, after the hiatus of face-to-face learning for many of us over the past 18 months, we enter this new academic year with a deeper and more profound appreciation for the physical presence of our communities. Language is central to all of this.

At Gallaudet, our reunion this fall on campus is especially poignant and perhaps more deeply cherished. For our linguistic minority that uses and learns through both American Sign Language (ASL) and reading and writing English (bilingual education), being back on campus means restoring our 3D visual language and learning experience and our visual sign language vibrancy. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we seamlessly shifted our entire educational mission into the cloud, into the digital virtual world, including our pre-K-12 educational programs. However, a majority of our students left campus to reside in predominantly spoken language environments and maintained their lifeline to the signing visual experience through video screens. Once the screen is turned off, so too, is their access to the visually vibrant signing campus. While we were able to replicate much of our sign language vibrancy online, we lost the 3D and physical vibe that we achieve when we gather and socialize, whether it’s intentional and planned or just incidental meetings in the halls or on our campus grounds.

Access to language and communication is a fundamental human right, one that all too often is denied to deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people. Only one to two percent of deaf children worldwide have access to education in sign language. For centuries, sign and spoken language have been set up as rivals inchild development, language planning and deaf education, presenting parents with a stark binary option, pick either spoken language or sign language, denying too many children the full range of options to support their language, brain growth andlifelong well-being. Consequently, policies and practices have missed the opportunity to support families and children,embracing the full possibilities that can be achieved if every child — not only deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind children — receives exposure to sign and spoken languages. Sign language is not only beneficial for those born deaf. Most adults will suffer from late hearing loss after the age of 55. Knowledge of sign language, far more than most people realize, is a universal imperative.

At Gallaudet in 1960, a team of researchers proved that ASL was a language in its own right. Today, on our campus and in the Gallaudet neighborhood, you see the power and vibrancy of sign language everyday with both hearing and deaf people. Many of the nearby businesses have signing employees, as well as visuocentric menus and point-of-sale terminals. On H Street there is a signing Starbucks, a deaf-friendly Chase branch, and Mozzeria, a deaf-founded and deaf-staffed Neapolitan pizza restaurant. Just a few blocks away is the Apple Store at Carnegie Library with nearly two dozen deaf employees. We are seeing the power of how American Sign Language strengthens our community and brings us together in new and inclusive ways. Late deafened people and their families can now find settings where they can naturally immerse themselves in sign language to build a more inclusive family experience for everyone.

Our sign language economy in the United States is big business. It brings economic value to our cities and our neighborhoods. Our local and state bilingual education programs create thousands of jobs for deaf and hearing people who are bilingual. Colleges and universities across the nation generate more than$43 million in revenue from teaching ASL, with Gallaudet training most teachers for these programs through our Master of Arts in Sign Language Education program. Gallaudet is proud of the fact that our university and our alumni have played a major role in building a sign language economy in the U.S. now worth an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion.

There are many misconceptions surrounding sign languages. Just like there is no universal spoken language, sign language is not universal. There are hundreds of sign languages and dialects used throughout the world, including ASL, Black ASL, and protactile sign languages used by deafblind people

The human experience and research affirm that the brain does not prioritize spoken language over sign language. Science has shown that the brain recognizes sign languages and spoken languages equally. Science also has shown the benefits or “gain” of learning visual language on brain development, including enhanced reading skills and comprehension, improved complex brain functioning especially with math and music, even protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s. Importantly, research on how human brains produce language on the eyes and hands as effectively as through the ears and mouth is changing our understanding of the impact of visual learning and visual language on the development of the brain and children.

Sign languages are currently enjoying a moment in the spotlight, from the myriad of deaf actors using sign language in recent movies such as CODA and television shows such as New Amsterdam and This Close, to the use of certified deaf interpreters at recent COVID government briefings. All of this is welcomed, but these must not just be fleeting moments that fade once the cool factor wears off, an all too familiar experience for the deaf community. Sign language should be respected, embraced, valued the same as any other language each and every day.

More than ever, as Gallaudet has returned to campus and the classroom, I contemplate the power and vibrancy of sign language and its integral role not only in our students’ lifelong success but also in the creation of a more inclusive and connected world. As it has for 157 years, our university remains steadfast in its mission to expand bilingual learning opportunities across our students’ lifespan. By doing so, Gallaudet will continue to help the broader world more fully recognize, respect and embrace the value of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind people and their contributions to our world.

But Gallaudet and the broader deaf community cannot do this alone. Our world needs a sign language mind shift, a profound societal awakening that access to any language, signed or spoken, is ultimately about the fundamental right to human connection – connection that we all rightly expect, need and enjoy – connection that is so central to our life and liberty.

Fittingly, the theme of this year’s International Day of Sign Languages was “We Sign for Human Rights.” I invite all of you to be our partners as we grow the signing ecosystem and cultivate opportunities in the local, national, and global economies. What can you do? Befriend your deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind neighbors and colleagues, take ASL classes, support deaf organizations and businesses, hire deaf talent, and immerse yourself in the vibrant signing culture close to where you live and work. We all will be enlightened through our shared experiences and the far more connected and inclusive world that we create together.



How Entrepreneurs Solve the Big Fish vs. Big Pond Dilemma

ollaboration with a partner is not strictly a two-way affair; instead, prospective partners take the entire competitive landscape into account when forming ties.

In the movie Jerry Maguire, a sports agent played by Tom Cruise is fired from his top agency after openly criticising its impersonal approach. He is forced to go it alone, but all his clients desert him, preferring to continue to be represented by a large, established organisation. That is, all except American footballer Rod Tidwell (played by Cuba Gooding Jr), who feels his career could use more personalised attention.

While movie-goers know that, indeed, things end well for Tidwell, an important question remains: When striking a partnership, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? In a paper published in the Academy of Management Journal, my co-authors* and I looked at the particular case of developers and publishers of PlayStation2 (PS2) video games, at a time when self-publishing of titles was not yet an option and developer-publisher ties were necessary to commercialise a game. We found that the level of experience of developers and the relative uncertainty they faced in terms of getting personalised attention from a publisher were driving much of their decision to seek a certain “pond” size.

Two conflicting goals requiring a trade-off

Akin to the book industry with its authors and publishing houses, the video game industry involves developers that propose game concepts and initial development, and publishers that provide late-stage development and access to markets. Out of the 163 PS2 games which have sold more than 1 million units, only 30 were published directly by Sony, the manufacturer of the console.

When partnering up, developers typically seek two things. On the one hand, they want a close collaboration in order to develop the very best product there is. In an extremely crowded video game market, an average product may essentially be a “dead fish”, so to speak. (Over 3,800 game titles have been released for the PS2.) On the other hand, developers would also like to secure the largest market access. After all, how sad if no one ever hears about their newly launched PS2 game.

The problem is that meeting both goals to the highest degree is unrealistically difficult. Large publishers with strong connections to retailers and which are able to organise vast launch campaigns often attract many high-calibre partners. As such, a partner may not receive a lot of personalised attention. Especially if many other, stronger developers work with the same publisher. A trade-off is usually necessary.

We collected data on 367 developers of PS2 games and 170 publishers between 2000 and 2009, the time period when console games were most popular. The majority of our sample firms were based in the three countries that dominated the industry: Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Our data collection strategy enabled us to build a comprehensive dataset on the activities of the mostly private developers and publishers in the industry.

We supplemented our data analysis with two waves of in-depth interviews. We found that younger or newer entrepreneurs focused on getting development help and worried less about reaching the largest number of consumers. This point was particularly salient for early-stage developers. As one of them told us: “When you’re innovating … there’s always some snag and always some complication that you did not foresee. It is crucial than [an established firm] is going to support you.”

Keeping an eye on the other horses in the race

In addition, the more competitive the market – i.e. the more developers are out there competing for publisher attention – the more a novice entrepreneur might be concerned about getting the proper level of attention that will ensure product differentiation. An interviewee said: “You have to worry about the competitive set that the publisher supports. The publisher may have great capability in your title because they also publish your major competitor. Then you have to ask yourself, is it going to lead them to prioritise your project lower.”

After all, entering a collaboration is only the first step. Securing the desired resources from the partner/publisher is not always guaranteed. Established firms in technology industries may sign more developers than they can eventually support, a fact that is not lost on these entrepreneurs. The number and the quality of the “other horses in the race” create uncertainty – and a definite threat – for developers. As a matter of fact, our data showed that when a developer ranked lower than average (in terms of the quality of its previously published games), it was 26 percent more likely to have its projects cancelled than its higher-ranked peers.

In all, experienced entrepreneurs who didn’t expect to need as much support based on their track record were willing to give up almost four times as much development help as inexperienced developers to secure better market access. Of course, publishers do not wait around to be chosen. Naturally, established publishers with high market access also prefer to partner with experienced developers, reducing their risk of needing to toil over duds.

Collaboration is more dynamic than it may seem at first glance

Although our dataset concerns the video game industry, our results apply to other types of entrepreneurs who need to form collaborations, partnerships or other types of ties to go to market. These include content creators of any kind partnering with platforms or other market intermediaries that may help refine their products. Biotechnology entrepreneurs partnering with pharmaceutical firms to hone their products and gain market access are another great example.

In fact, we all face the big fish/big pond dilemma more often than we realise. When we take a job in a famous company, we accept the idea that we are (in all likelihood) going to be just one of the many very smart people working there. Standing out may prove difficult. Conversely, if we choose to work for a new start-up, we may rise rapidly, but our opportunity to shine outside the firm (through speaking engagements or media requests, for instance) may remain limited. In our personal lives, if we choose to befriend a very popular person, we may have to fight for their time and attention.

Any sort of collaboration entails a trade-off between our status, the status of the partners we have in mind, and the status of the other people interested in partnering with them. The process is a lot more dynamic than it seems. Depending on the competitive landscape, you may want your very own Jerry Maguire.



How To Be A Good Internal Consultant

As an internal consultant and a member of an internal consulting team (although “internal consultant” or “internal consulting” is not in our “official” job titles), my colleagues and I are often called on to lead, support, and offer coaching, consultation, or facilitation services on wide-ranging areas, projects, and initiatives including culture, change management, conflict management, leadership development, organizational development, learning & development, onboarding, and so much more. Indeed, now more than ever, today’s HR professionals play the role of internal consultants (Miller, 2016).

The Association of Internal Management Consultants (AIMC) says that an internal consultant provides various client support services within the enterprise. They may be in a variety of areas (e.g., project management, quality management, human resources, information technology, training & development, finance, supply chain management, process improvement, etc.).

According to Phillips, Trotter, and Phillips (2015), “The rapid rate of change coupled with heightened competition on a global basis is increasing the need for companies and public sector organizations to develop effective internal consulting capabilities” (p. 3).

Important competencies to be a successful internal consultant (Phillips, Trotter, & Phillips, 2015) include communication skills, feedback skills, problem-solving & analytical skills, and organizational skills. Additionally, several core consulting skills (AIMC, 2017) are needed, such as business acumen, business process optimization, change management, coaching & consulting skills, and project management.

If you want a company to value you as an indispensable internal consultant — especially in the human resources, talent management, and leadership development space — here are a few tips I’d like to share based on my work and experience as an internal consultant.

First, it doesn’t matter how smart or knowledgeable you are or how much experience you have or bring. If you want to excel as an internal consultant and have top corporate decision-makers listen to you, you’ll need to master the art of influence & persuasion — how to sell your ideas and convince leaders to go along with you. Leaders are short on time and attention. You must master the ability to be concise, to-the-point, and ensure that your timing is right. For instance, if you are advocating for a specific program or agenda, but it does not align with your organizations’ goals or senior leaders’ mindsets, it will be very unlikely your proposal will ever have a chance of getting off the ground. The ability to both gain senior leadership buy-in and support and navigate an organization’s hierarchy, politics, and culture is absolutely critical to an internal consultant’s success (Zentis, 2018).

Second, learn to be interpersonally savvy because it is “an essential part of getting things done within organization” (Barnfield & Lombardo, 2014, p. 235). “Interpersonal savvy helps you read and address relationships appropriately and at the right time” (Scisco, Biech, & Hallenbeck, 2017, p. 261). I have seen individuals with graduate education and degrees (i.e., knowledge) be terribly ineffective at internal consulting because they were unable or unwilling to move out of their comfort zone (i.e., relying solely or mostly on knowledge or technical skills, rather than being savvy enough to read the situation and the relationship and understand what others need and respond accordingly).

Third, a positive attitude goes a very long way in helping you gain social capital, as well as getting you to the table of these decision makers. Regardless of how smart, talented, or experienced you are, if you have a bad attitude and cannot get along with others, you will struggle to get senior executives to listen to you. They may accept your work or ideas but will never see you as a leader or a person with the potential to become one. You have to play nicely with others. Even if you are the resident “genius” and you know how to do everything, if your attitude sucks, no one will care what you have to say, even if you’re right.

Earlier, I shared important competencies needed to be a successful internal consultant. These included Communication Skills, Feedback Skills, Problem-Solving & Analytical Skills, Organizational Skills, Business Acumen, Business Process Optimization, Change Management, Coaching & Consulting Skills, and Project Management.

Here are 8 competencies (some of these will be identical, similar to, or complement the ones previously outlined, while others will be new and different) you can incorporate into your repertoire to help become an effective internal consultant:

From CCL Compass (Scisco, Biech, & Hallenbeck, 2017):

  1. Communication (p. 9) – “Listen, convey your ideas and emotions with clarity and authenticity, and adapt your personal speaking as needed for the situation and audience to foster an environment of trust.”
  2. Interpersonal Savvy (p. 261) – “You need interpersonal skills to recognize and assess what others need. These skills involve not only listening to others, but also include noticing social cues that communicate how others are thinking and feeling, even if they don’t say so outright.”
  3. Influence (p. 17) – “Your greatest leadership asset is your ability to understand and persuade others. Influential leaders know how to get others to work with them, whether or not formal authority exists.”
  4. Tolerating Ambiguity (p. 401) – “[I]n today’s business environment, ambiguity is pervasive and affects leaders at all organizational levels. . . . Learn to handle ambiguity comfortably and confidently and learn to anticipate situations rather than simply react to or retreat from them. Make peace with ambiguity and gain greater control over how you handle key decisions in daily situations and over your career.”

From Awaken, Align, Accelerate (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011):

  1. Business Acumen (p. 159) – A leader with strong business acumen understands the global environment, business model, and key drivers of the organization, and leverages this understanding to recommend alternatives and measure performance.
  2. Building Collaboration (p. 285) – A collaborative leader participates with and involves others, promotes cooperation, builds partnerships, and resolves conflicts.
  3. Creating Alignment (p. 57) – An effective change leader creates alignment by ensuring the structure, systems, people, and processes are aligned in support of organizational goals.

From Bernholz and Teng’s Harvard Business Review article (2015):

  1. Be Entrepreneurial & “Be Scrappy” – In Bernholz and Teng’s article, in which they offered recommendations on how to build an in-house consulting team, one of their suggestions is “be scrappy” and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. At EMC Information Infrastructure (EMC II, which has since been acquired by Dell), an information technology, storage & protection company, Bernholz (now VP, Head of Corporate Strategy at Adobe) and Teng (now VP of Global Business Transformation at Commvault) knew they didn’t have the luxury of having extensive support staff that external firms often enjoyed. So they made up for the staffing shortfall “by assigning all [internal EMC] consultants to an “office development” team, such as recruiting, training and onboarding, knowledge management, or social committee. Though these require time commitment beyond project-work, they offer team members the opportunity to shape the group’s operations and culture, instilling an entrepreneurial mindset among [internal EMC’s] consultants.”

Takeaway: Here’s my advice to those who wish to be outstanding internal consultants to organizations. To increase your chances of success: (1) Take a few steps back (figuratively) to really understand the issue or problem and absorb (like a sponge) everything you see, hear, and experience; (2) Build and maintain solid long-term relationships throughout the company; and (3) Work to connect the dots by thinking about and asking these questions: (a) “Why has this issue been a recurring one?” (b) “How many people or departments have an influence over this or play a key role?” (c) “Who truly holds the decision-making power and who are the influencers in the organization?”, and (d) “If others (inside & outside the company) have come up with a solution, why has it not worked?” By talking and listening to others, you will be in a great position to better know and understand the organization and the industry in which it sits. Finally, learn to get along and work well with others and be nice. If you are a jerk, you will have a very hard time providing internal consulting services.



Five actions to help your organization leap from survivor to thriver

A new generation of leading companies emerging from the pandemic crisis will operate by the rules of a new S-curve of growth.
To innovate at scale, organizations can take a future-back approach by using future scenarios to create a multi-horizon strategic roadmap.
Using data to understand the customer and moving from supply chains to supply networks will help companies innovate the unique experiences customers demand.
Since World War II, the global economy has followed an extended S-curve of growth. The foundation of this growth has primarily rested on the traditional value drivers of scope, scale and efficiency to measure performance and value.

However, within the last 10 years, we’ve begun to see a shift, both with the backlash against companies that ignore their systemic impacts on the world, and with the explosive rise of digitally-driven, hypergrowth “unicorn” companies that have exponentially raised expectations around the consumer experience and propelled valuations to new heights.

We expect another disruptive generation of leading companies to emerge from the current pandemic crisis, accelerating existing trends and creating new ones. They will operate by the rules of a new S-curve, where innovation timelines compress and ideation, prototyping, piloting and commercialization will happen in rapid cycles at global scale.

Examples of companies that leaped onto the new S-curve during the pandemic include a healthcare enterprise software company developing a video-based medical consultation service in 48 hours for healthcare workers in the UK, an African taxi start-up becoming a delivery service, and a Canadian biotech company that used its AI platform to identify drugs already FDA approved that had the potential to treat COVID-19.

These and other innovative companies have left behind the traditional drivers of scope, scale and efficiency in favor of long-term value creation to meet the dynamic demands of their customers or broader society. In following the path toward long-term value, organizations will need to build their performance using new transformational value drivers that put humans at the center of purpose and strategy, deploy technology at the speed where exponential benefits accrue, and innovate at scale to be at the forefront of reshaping industries and customer expectations.

innovation infograph
The magic of the next S-curve showcases solving challenges with creative approaches
Even before the pandemic, customer behaviors and preferences were shifting toward hyper-personalized, predictive and adaptive customer experiences. The pandemic, which has kept many people at home, has rapidly escalated these expectations. Customers want the companies they interact with to know who they are, what they want and how to deliver products and services that are of high value to their lives.

Companies that use data to gain a deep understanding of their customers and provide unique experiences — whether it’s individualized cancer care, custom-designed and 3D printed athletic shoes that provide a perfect fit or furniture that is ergonomically designed to relieve a customer’s specific pressure points — will exponentially accelerate along the next S-curve of growth.

To innovate at the speed and scale they’ll need for success, companies will have to transform strategically, digitally and operationally.

Companies that use data to gain a deep understanding of their customers and provide unique experiences will exponentially accelerate along the next S-curve of growth.

How EY can help
Strategy consulting
EY-Parthenon professionals recognize that CEOs and business leaders are tasked with achieving maximum value for their organizations’ stakeholders in this transformative age. We challenge assumptions to design and deliver strategies that help improve profitability and long-term value.

Read more
A future-back approach sets the strategy for innovating at scale
Innovating at scale along this new growth trajectory requires companies to take a future-back approach to strategic planning, as exponential value creators have done in previous times of crisis and change. Leaders of these companies look into the distant future and consider whether their business will be as relevant then as it is now. They then use their purpose to explore their opportunities and their vision to work future-back scenarios that make sure they are following a path where the priorities and actions of today are positioning them on a relevant and exponential trajectory for 15 or 20 years down the road.

With future scenarios as a starting point, companies can then create a multi-horizon strategic map that charts a course from the future back to today. The latest EY Megatrends report is a think-tank research report on global futures and highlights five steps for developing a future-back strategy using megatrends as a foundation. The concept of future-back planning results in an ability to break free from past assumptions, explore megatrends that will change the world and identify weak signals beginning to reveal the future. From there, organizations can use that understanding, today, to develop a better strategic investment and transformation plans.

Future-back planning provides an opportunity to break free from past assumptions, explore megatrends that will change the world and identify weak signals beginning to reveal the future. Organizations can use that understanding, today, to develop a better strategic investment and transformation plans.

Data will be the differentiator between products and unique experiences
Technologically, companies looking to make the leap from middle of the pack to exponential value creators, will need to more effectively harness the reams of data they are already collecting and generate vast amounts beyond what we collect today.

In a recent EY study, 83% of digital transformation leaders understood the value their companies could gain from leveraging data and analytics insights to speed innovation. Even 70% of digital transformation laggards see the same value.

Understanding the value data can bring
of digital transformation leaders use data to help them innovate faster.

To be successful, organizational leaders need to see data as an asset worth investing in. Further, companies will want to act on the following three innovation imperatives, as outlined in How data can help you innovate when change is constant:

Assemble the right teams that have experience across strategic change, design thinking, data science and industry knowledge. They’ll be able to ask the right questions to get the right results.
Develop a human-centered innovation business model, operating model, and culture that embraces and drives change. Using data to augment the capabilities and experiences for people in innovative new ways is the key to realized value.
Deliver insights and results fast and have a clear plan for industrialization. Analytics sprints can help teams iterate through business questions, starting simply and becoming increasingly complex to support new innovations that can be embedded at scale.
Of course, any actions companies take to strengthen their data and analytics, and artificial intelligence capabilities will need to tie back to the future-back strategy the company has set.

Customer expectations propel operational value chains into an autonomous era
Operationally, value chains will need to evolve to keep pace with making innovations tangible and real in terms of products and services for customers. For years, companies have relied predominantly on efficient, just-in-time supply chains that mass produce products to ship in bulk to customers. In delivering hyper-personalized experiences, companies will need to move toward flexible, resilient supply networks that are highly responsive to local needs, and flexible enough to reconfigure and deliver new products and services quickly.

In a networked era, supply chains will be data-driven and allow for end-to-end visibility, hyper personalization and real-time communication. This will allow companies to manufacture uniquely designed, bespoke products at scale. Emerging technologies also will play a critical role in disruptive innovation by helping companies to make real-time decisions and integrate data to source, make, sell and deliver their products.

In an autonomous era, companies will produce products at or nearer to the source of consumption. In this new autonomous reality, items would be available to customers on-demand and in real-time by accessing the flow of intellectual property and production when needed and producing products in seconds.

If the goal is to deliver hyper-personalized experiences, companies will need to move toward resilient supply networks that are highly responsive to local needs, and flexible enough to reconfigure and deliver new products and services quickly.

Along the new S-curve, the beyond is closer than we think
Along the new S-curve of growth, innovating at scale will require companies to place humans at the center of their customer journey, develop a future-back strategy, harness their customer data to deliver unique experiences and turn their supply chains into networked then autonomous supply networks. By understanding individual customer needs and delivering at scale in real time, companies can find themselves leading the next generation of post-pandemic disruptors into a beyond that is closer than we think.


The Explosive Growth In Coaching: One Of The Biggest Trends In Business

This week BetterUp announced another $300M round of funding, valuing the company at $4.7 Billion. Recurring revenues are already over $100 Million this year more than doubling year over year. Vendors like SpringHealth (Unicorn on the therapy side of coaching), CoachHub (a fast follower to BetterUp), Torch (coaching integrated into L&D), and others are now riding this wave.

As Alexi Robichaux (CEO) puts it, the world of benefits, learning, and employee development have merged. And I really have to agree. And the “digital health” industry itself has received more than $20 Billion this year, showing how explosive this new combination can be.

If you think about it as a CEO, the connection is obvious. We want our employees to feel healthy, energetic, engaged, and ready. Our Employee Experience research points this out in detail: all these benefits programs come together.

Later this month we’re going to be launching a massive study on this market, one we call The Healthy Organization. And what you’re going to see is that wellbeing programs, coaching, development, and leadership coaching are all connected together. In fact the one silver lining of the pandemic is that it taught us all a big lesson: if you don’t focus on the “whole person” at work, all these individual HR programs don’t add up.

Consider what Alexi tells me about his clients (Chevron, for example). Before the use of coaching, managers had sporadic leadership development training and many of them just struggle to learn to lead. Remote workers and staff members try to “learn to deal with stress” on their own. The wellbeing strategy is clear at the CEO level, but the head of compensation and benefits often sees these as “programs” and measures results through utilization.

BetterUp, which integrates development, coaching, assessment, and career growth, ties all this together. So this massive spending on “benefits” (which sits in the comp department) and the similarly massive investment in training (which sits in L&D) can now come together.

Chevron: Precision Development At Scale

I’ve interviewed Chevron in detail and the impact of BetterUp is amazing. Let me share some details here.

Since the start of the program in July of 2020, more than 1,200 Chevron leaders received personalized development. The Net-Promoter score of the experience is +65 (my last study of corporate L&D found that the L&D function itself has a negative net-promoter score), and 94% of these leaders say “coaching makes them more effective at their job.”

And it gets even better. Through a new offering called Coaching Circles, Chevron leaders can come together in small global groups to discuss and learn through expert facilitated discussions. These programs have now reached more than 3,000 Chevron leaders in 15 languages.

Other benefits from leaders (analyzed through self-reflection and assessment) at Chevron include a 15% increase in employee recognition, 12% improvement in business alignment, 13% improvement in problem-solving, and 16% improvement in strategic planning.

And in the case of Chevron, this initiative has helped the company transform and improve its entire performance management process. As the energy industry goes through massive change, this benefit alone more than cost-justifies the investment.

Where Is All This Going?

As you’ll read about in our upcoming Healthy Company research, Wellbeing at Work has come a long way. Going back to the Cadbury employee health and living facilities in the 1800s, today companies want to provide an end-to-end “healthy experience” for employees.

This brings together the disciplines of employee engagement, development, job design, and coaching into one integrated view. Add a dose of technology, and you get AI-enabled coaching, “whole-person” assessment, and a myriad of digital health programs added on. It’s a new whole-person focus for employees, and this brings the entire function of HR together. All in the flow of work.

And the vendor market comes together too. Vendors like BetterUp, which focuses on the whole employee “system,” will transform the way we think about corporate training, wellbeing, and leadership.

As I’ve told people many times, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s about the “unquenchable power of the human spirit.” When we give people the right support and a safe environment, they do amazing things for your company.

Start thinking about all your HR programs as investments in the “whole person” at work. It will pay off many times over.



Data Drop: Touchless Greetings, the Death of the Open Office and the Impact of Class on Collaboration

Returning to work was always going to churn up a mixed bag of feelings among employees and HR vendors are looking to get a sense of what those feelings are. Combine it with the ongoing wave of resignations, increased automation in the workplace and what you’ve got is a recipe for data telling you the story of how people are reacting to it.

As usual, my inbox is full of the latest studies and surveys being conducted by HR vendors, researchers and employers of all sizes. In today’s data drop, we’re going to take a closer look at how employees are coping with all these factors and what they aren’t looking forward to about going back to work.

No Touching
Remember the days of handshakes? Well your memory might be the only place they exist moving forward. After COVID-19, it’s only natural that a heightened awareness of contamination and swapping germs will be more commonplace. As employees return to work, employers are finding ways to give people more distance from each other or more opportunities to sanitize themselves and their environment.

When it comes to greeting each other, a Qualtrics study reveals that more than a third of employees say they’ll be using touchless greetings with colleagues, such as a wave or a friendly nod.

You might be tempted to think: what’s the big deal? It is after all, it’s just a greeting among people you already know. But the fact is, many employees have anxiety about the awkwardness of social situations and following proper etiquette when returning to the office. And for many of these people, this will be the first time they have met colleagues face-to-face. Around 57% of people surveyed said they would be meeting some colleagues for the first time when returning to the office.

While it may seem a small thing, this might be a good time to establish some norms around social etiquette, at least in the short term future while so much uncertainty swirls around COVID variants and how to ensure people are vaccinated.

Give Me My Space
As long as we’re talking about vaccinations, the folks over at interior design and architecture blog Homedit conducted a survey that revealed some concerns people have about the new workspaces they’ll be coming back to.

There were two really notable points to come out of it though. The first, was that 72% of employees feel that their employer should require some kind of proof of vaccination in order for someone to return to work. The data illustrates what many an HR professional knows to be true; the level of anxiety around COVID-19 has only eased somewhat following vaccine rollouts.

READ: Employee Experience Remains a Priority as Work Models Shift Post Pandemic

The second only illustrates their anxiety about being around each other further, with 83% of respondents saying they would prefer any other office layout than an open one. And science may have finally given us more of an understanding as to why that is.

A study released in June from the Journal of Management & Organization show that open office plans have a negative impact on employees. Specifically, it studied the impact of open office noise on cognitive performance, physiological stress and mood, monitoring things like heart rate, facial expressions and skin conductivity. The findings show a causal relationship between open office noise and physiological stress. People tended to sweat more and facial expressions show signs of tension.

After a year of people finding new levels of productivity and comfort working at home, plunging them back into any office environment could have negative impacts. If you’re absolutely certain returning employees to an office is what you want to do, you might want to consider ways to help them find spaces that ease stress levels. If you don’t, keep in mind that more than half of employees around the world are willing to find a new job if their employer eliminates the option to work from home at least part of the time.

Class Collaborators
Collaboration is a key component of a dynamic workplace these days and something that you find everyone from floor manager to C-suite executives talking about. It’s a skill that pops up in just about every job description these days and employers spend a great deal of time figuring out ways to facilitate and encourage collaboration.

Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that what drives someone to collaborate may not simply be their personality type, but their life experience, particularly as it relates to class. The study looked at groups of people from varying classes performing interdependent team work. What they discovered is that groups from lower social class backgrounds had conversations that were more wide-ranging, active and balanced than their middle and upper-class counterparts, something key to high team performance.

As the study notes, these people often fail to stand out as individual star performers in a divide and conquer approach to work, but when working as part of a collective are extremely effective.

Previous studies have revealed that in most collaborative environments, 3-5% of the employees involved were contributing 20-35% of the value add. Perhaps future research will draw a link between the two, but in any case, when looking at building teams that diverse in both culture and style, class may play a bigger part than you ever imagined.

Returning to work was always going to churn up a mixed bag of feelings among employees and HR vendors are looking to get a sense of what those feelings are. Combine it with the ongoing wave of resignations, increased automation in the workplace and what you’ve got is a recipe for data telling you the story of how people are reacting to it.

As usual, my inbox is full of the latest studies and surveys being conducted by HR vendors, researchers and employers of all sizes. In today’s data drop, we’re going to take a closer look at how employees are coping with all these factors and what they aren’t looking forward to about going back to work.

No Touching
Remember the days of handshakes? Well your memory might be the only place they exist moving forward. After COVID-19, it’s only natural that a heightened awareness of contamination and swapping germs will be more commonplace. As employees return to work, employers are finding ways to give people more distance from each other or more opportunities to sanitize themselves and their environment.

When it comes to greeting each other, a Qualtrics study reveals that more than a third of employees say they’ll be using touchless greetings with colleagues, such as a wave or a friendly nod.

You might be tempted to think: what’s the big deal? It is after all, it’s just a greeting among people you already know. But the fact is, many employees have anxiety about the awkwardness of social situations and following proper etiquette when returning to the office. And for many of these people, this will be the first time they have met colleagues face-to-face. Around 57% of people surveyed said they would be meeting some colleagues for the first time when returning to the office.

While it may seem a small thing, this might be a good time to establish some norms around social etiquette, at least in the short term future while so much uncertainty swirls around COVID variants and how to ensure people are vaccinated.

Give Me My Space
As long as we’re talking about vaccinations, the folks over at interior design and architecture blog Homedit conducted a survey that revealed some concerns people have about the new workspaces they’ll be coming back to.

There were two really notable points to come out of it though. The first, was that 72% of employees feel that their employer should require some kind of proof of vaccination in order for someone to return to work. The data illustrates what many an HR professional knows to be true; the level of anxiety around COVID-19 has only eased somewhat following vaccine rollouts.

READ: Employee Experience Remains a Priority as Work Models Shift Post Pandemic

The second only illustrates their anxiety about being around each other further, with 83% of respondents saying they would prefer any other office layout than an open one. And science may have finally given us more of an understanding as to why that is.

A study released in June from the Journal of Management & Organization show that open office plans have a negative impact on employees. Specifically, it studied the impact of open office noise on cognitive performance, physiological stress and mood, monitoring things like heart rate, facial expressions and skin conductivity. The findings show a causal relationship between open office noise and physiological stress. People tended to sweat more and facial expressions show signs of tension.

After a year of people finding new levels of productivity and comfort working at home, plunging them back into any office environment could have negative impacts. If you’re absolutely certain returning employees to an office is what you want to do, you might want to consider ways to help them find spaces that ease stress levels. If you don’t, keep in mind that more than half of employees around the world are willing to find a new job if their employer eliminates the option to work from home at least part of the time.

Class Collaborators
Collaboration is a key component of a dynamic workplace these days and something that you find everyone from floor manager to C-suite executives talking about. It’s a skill that pops up in just about every job description these days and employers spend a great deal of time figuring out ways to facilitate and encourage collaboration.

Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that what drives someone to collaborate may not simply be their personality type, but their life experience, particularly as it relates to class. The study looked at groups of people from varying classes performing interdependent team work. What they discovered is that groups from lower social class backgrounds had conversations that were more wide ranging, active and balanced than their middle and upper class counterparts, something key to high team performance.

As the study notes, these people often fail to stand out as individual star performers in a divide and conquer approach to work, but when working as part of a collective are extremely effective.

Previous studies have revealed that in most collaborative environments, 3-5% of the employees involved were contributing 20-35% of the value add. Perhaps future research will draw a link between the two, but in any case, when looking at building teams that diverse in both culture and style, class may play a bigger part than you ever imagined.



Five things freelancers must know about GST

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology and transformed the gig economy. Owing to the mounting uncertainty, people have switched over to freelancing. At present, India has the largest freelance workforce after the US.

A freelancer is a person who works independently and earns an income on a per-job or per-task basis. It could also be contractual, usually for short-term work. Freelancers work on multiple projects simultaneously for different clients. A freelancer is not an employee of any organisation and hence is not on pay-roll or entitled to any company benefits or perks.

Under the current Goods and Services Tax (GST) laws, any person supplying taxable services must be registered at the start from where they are providing such services. GST rate, as applicable to any other service provider (which is typically 18%), would also apply to such freelancers, based on the nature of services being provided.

GST affecting income
For registered freelancers, GST liability which is required to be deposited by them with the government is usually collected from the service recipient. This is over and above the value of services rendered by freelancers. While the same may result in slight working capital/cash flow issues with the time difference in payment to department viz-a-viz collection of their payments from customers, however, there would not be any other impact on freelancer’s income. This holds true in most cases unless the customers do not agree to pay GST over and above their value of service i.e. when the value of services are contractually agreed to be inclusive of GST.

In addition to the same, freelancers may be eligible to claim an input tax credit of GST paid to suppliers/vendors on procurement of goods or services, which are used in their freelancing business, subject to conditions. Hence, typically GST is not a cost to them if applicable.

For an unregistered freelancer, while there would not be any liability to pay GST, any GST paid on procurements to vendors would be a cost as they would not be eligible to claim input credit for the same. Accordingly, in such cases, the same would have an impact resulting in an upward increase in the overall cost of services rendered by freelancers to their customers.

Voluntary GST registration
When a person is not mandatorily required to obtain registration under GST law (usually when it does not cross the threshold limit), they can register by choice even if the turnover is less than the prescribed threshold.

If a freelancer obtains voluntary GST registration, they will have to abide by the provisions of the GST law. Also, they would be required to undertake all the related compliances and pay the applicable GST. However, obtaining voluntary registration may increase the overall compliance burden. This is seen as a preferred option while dealing with B2B customers, as they usually deal with registered persons. Obtaining GST registration would also help to reduce the input GST costs which a person may incur on procurements which would then be available as credit to such freelancers.

Services on online marketplaces
GST is generally applicable in both scenarios, i.e., where services are provided via online marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, etc. or directly to clients. The liability to collect/ deposit the same with the IT department would remain with the ultimate service provider in both scenarios, as per criteria mentioned earlier.

In addition to the same, in case of online marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer etc., an analysis may be required to examine if the same would qualify as an ‘e-commerce operator’ under GST law. In such a case, additional GST compliances would have to be undertaken by such online marketplaces. Online marketplaces qualifying as e-commerce operators, would also be required to collect TCS @ 1% from persons, including freelancers who are supplying their goods and services through their electronic platform. Credit for such TCS would be available to such persons, subject to conditions.

In addition, depending on the exact nature of services being provided through online marketplaces, GST implications would have to be determined from such service providers.

Filing returns
Freelancers are required to comply with the prescribed compliances like other registered GST assessees. They would be required to undertake filing of monthly/quarterly (depending on turnover) returns, i.e., return of outward supplies (GSTR-1) and summary return for outward and inward supplies (GSTR-3B). In addition, annual compliance in the form of GSTR-9 is also required to be undertaken depending on the prescribed turnover.

In case the freelancer’s turnover exceeds INR 5 crore, annual reconciliation statement in the form of GSTR-9C is also required to be filed. Multiple penalties for non-compliances (registration, documents, invoices, etc.) of various provisions have been provided under the law, however, in case of delay in filing of monthly/quarterly returns, a late fee of INR 50 per day per return has been prescribed.

GST registration benefits

One may argue that obtaining GST registration would result in additional compliance burden on small service providers like freelancers, however, it may be noted that GST has provided a very simplified compliance process for taxpayers.

There are various benefits in obtaining GST registration such as availability of GST credit for tax paid on procurements, which in case of unregistered freelancers would be a cost. Same can also be utilized for discharging output GST liability of services, by the freelancer, thereby passing minimal burden on the end consumer.

Further, obtaining GST registration also helps service recipients gain more trust and deal more transparently with freelancers. Even the government encourages larger businesses to deal with GST compliant service providers.



The Politics of Influence in Top Management Team Meetings

Interactions between the chief executive and other members of the top management team appear to follow distinct scripts. Managers who take note can boost their standing or stay out of harm’s way.

Top management teams (TMT) have been studied since at least the 1980s for insights into how chief executives and their deputies make the strategic decisions that can make or break organisations. But little is known about what exactly happens in the decision-making process, which more often than not is steeped in politics and power play. This article is about a ground-breaking study we conducted that filmed and analysed verbal and non-verbal exchanges in TMT meetings as they happened.

Our findings, published in a new paper, suggest that, contrary to previous research that highlighted the influence of stable, longstanding alliances in organisations, coalition-building in TMTs can also be in the moment and fluid. By forming even temporary coalitions with other TMT members and deploying simple influencing behaviours, senior managers can persuade the CEO to take their side and sway key decisions.

Reading the room right

We studied two TMTs similar in size, gender composition and other key dimensions. TMT A belonged to a medium-sized computer game company based in Canada while the other, TMT B, was the top team of a business services company with global operations.

For each team, we videotaped their meetings and examined them in minute detail, from emotional tone, body posture, hand gestures to eye contact. We also interviewed each of the team members after the meetings.

Five kinds of CEO-TMT member interaction patterns emerged, which we outline below.


In the most amicable of the interaction patterns, the CEO and other TMT members see eye to eye right from the start.

What would be a wise strategy in this environment? Build on this congenial atmosphere by employing the rational argument and drawing others into the conversation.


This is when the CEO disagrees with the rest of the team at the beginning, and the team resolve their differences through a constructive discussion during the meeting. Our findings show that managers can gain legitimacy by appealing to a higher authority and, again, by using rational argument to great effect.


This is a scenario in which the CEO retreats to the background as an observer, while two team members debate an issue.

Duelling managers can bolster their case by declaring ownership (“this is my project”) and drawing on one’s experience and knowledge (“I know my team better than anyone else”). The spectating leader might be wise to delay a decision while emotions cool, as the CEOs in our study did.


This is when a disagreement between the CEO and a team member triggers an adversarial dynamic at the start of a strategic issue discussion. There is a risk the decision-making process becomes polarised.

Here, participants need to be politically savvy. They can seek support, build a coalition by directly appealing or looking at colleagues, and draw on the credibility and agenda of others. A CEO could check to see if there’s scope for an upward appeal (“the founder needs this to be done before the end of next month”).


This pattern evolves when the CEO and a TMT member are in opposition: The former challenges and undermines the latter while other members simply look on.

For those who find themselves in an undermined position, dismissed and ostracised by the team, the best chance of surviving is to duck, retreat and fight another day. In our study, one executive chose to derail the discussion, and another turned the conversation to another topic. Another magnified the risk of the rival proposal.

Playing your cards right

Importantly, we found that more than one constellation could form in a single meeting. Team members can be congruous or cooperative when they discuss one issue and adversarial or undermining another. This suggests that the TMT decision-making process is more dynamic and nuanced than shown by previous research.

How you use influencing behaviours matters. For example, we observed rational argument in all five constellations albeit with very different delivery – relaxed incongruous, emphatically with plenty of hand gestures in cooperative, and calm and authoritative in undermining. Each led to different outcomes. Thus, tone of voice and body language can be very effective influence mechanisms.

Finally, cultures also play a part. In East Asia, for example, leadership styles tend to be more hierarchical, providing fertile soil for undermining and adversarial situations, although the general patterns hold.

TMTs are contested spaces characterised by conflicts, alliances and negotiated orders. When collaboration fails to resolve differences, our study shows that executives with deft political skills are likely to prevail. In other words, those who can relate well and demonstrate situationally appropriate behaviour in a manner that inspires confidence and trust will get their way.

Our findings offer tips that could help senior managers navigate the patterns of interaction we observed. A reliable guide to reading the situation and deciding what actions to take is to ask yourself: Am I aligned with the leader? Am I aligned with my peers? How much energy do they have about the issue? Then play your hand accordingly.



Do you really want that promotion?

If you are good at your job, all sorts of push-pull forces within your organization—and society at large—will propel you into bigger roles with more responsibilities, including managing people for the first time or taking on larger teams.

And many people understandably want those bigger jobs, and the reasons go beyond the pay bump that often comes with promotions. It’s called a career ladder for a reason: it’s something to climb. As human beings, we are wired to strive for greater status, and all the markers that come with it: titles, more pay, and a better office (at least, back in the day when people had offices). Social media platforms amplify that dynamic because we share our titles with the world.

Within organizations, there can also be an assumption that all high-performers want to move higher. So, as managers assess and develop talent to be future leaders, the default belief at many companies is that people will want to move up—a point that I hadn’t quite appreciated until I interviewed Shawna Erdmann, the senior vice president of learning at Comcast, the telecommunications multinational based in Philadelphia.

“Often the leaders of a company, including boards and HR, will pick and choose among upcoming executives for promotions, but no one ever has a conversation with that individual to ask them, ‘What do you want to do? What are your ambitions? What do you see as your goals or your next steps?’” she said. “So often we miss that critical piece and then we wonder why, when we elevate someone, they might not do as well as we expected. But nobody ever asked them, ‘Do you really want that job?’ Maybe they were just super happy making a difference at their particular level, and they didn’t have the ambition to do the next thing. We need to get better at having those conversations.”

Listening up
The crises of the last 18 months have led to profound shifts in our perception of the role of organizations in society, the nature of work itself (how and where it gets done), and the qualities that matter most in leaders now. This period of disruption has also led many people to reconsider what they want to do and where they want to live. And so, with all these fundamental career questions being put on the table, I would argue that we should add one more: do people really want the promotions that everyone assumes they want?

Yes, I get that it might seem like trying to fight gravity. The reward systems we have in place are structured to create a powerful upward pull. But once the thrill of the new title and pay bump wears off, a lot of people find themselves in roles that they may not like or be suited for. It’s a fact of life that many people think they want a particular job until they actually get that job.

The reward systems create a powerful upward pull. But once the thrill of a new title and pay bump wears off, a lot of people find themselves in roles they may not like or be suited for.

It’s a point that Kasper Rørsted, the CEO of Adidas, made to me when I interviewed him back when he was CEO of the German chemicals company Henkel. During our conversation, I asked him what advice he would give to someone who was about to become CEO for the first time. His answer is just as relevant for anybody looking to move into any higher position because every senior position brings new demands and difficulties.

“I would ask them the question, ‘Do you really want the job?’” Rørsted said. “It’s such a demanding job. On the outside, it looks very shiny. But there’s a lot of hard work. You get paid to do all the uncomfortable things. You don’t get paid to go play golf in Savannah. It’s not just glamour. I’m not saying it’s hardship, but are they able to live with it? So that’s the first one—‘Is it really what you want?’”

The question is a personal one for me. Over my 30-year journalism career, before I moved into consulting four years ago, I twice turned down an offer to run a big newsroom department. I was the number two in the department, and so the assumption was that I would want the job. But in working closely with my boss, I had exposure to what his job entailed, and I knew that much of it didn’t suit my strengths or personality. And I wanted to keep doing what I enjoyed most as an editor, which was working with reporters to do great journalism. Did I pay a penalty in terms of my trajectory there? No doubt. Do I regret it? Not for a second.

The “up or out” culture that started in many fields such as law and academia—the pressure to achieve a certain rank within a certain period of time or else—has become a bedrock notion of many companies. But some CEOs I’ve interviewed over the years have applied fresh thinking to compensation and hierarchies so that talented individual contributors feel rewarded without the usual pressure to move into bigger management jobs. They include Selina Lo, who was then CEO of Ruckus Wireless, a provider of wireless networking equipment based in Sunnyvale, California.

“In my company, there is a rule that all new managers need to know: that it’s not a given that their people [under them] will be paid less than they are,” Lo told me in our interview. “That’s part of becoming a manager—that you really have to enjoy enabling people. I want people who are good managers to be managers. I don’t want people to become managers just because they feel they need to.” And she wanted people who are not manager material but have other skills to get the monetary rewards for doing their jobs well.

Think of it as the Peter Principle in reverse: rather than rising to their “maximum level of incompetence,” according to the famous maxim that describes how ambitious employees often trip themselves up by taking jobs they are unqualified for, people may realize they don’t want a particular job because it doesn’t match their skills or career goals.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for ambition. But for those considering promotions or HR leaders managing talent pipelines, the ambition should not be blind. It’s time people start asking the question more often: do you really want that job?


From The Great Resignation To The Great Migration

Much has been written about The Great Resignation, the trend for over 3.4% of the US workforce to leave their jobs every month. Yes, the trend is real: companies like Amazon are losing more than a third of their workers each year, forcing employers to ramp up hiring like we have never seen before. (The trending hashtag in TikTok is now #quitmyjob.)

But while we often blame the massive quit rate on the Pandemic, let me suggest that something else is going on. This is a massive and possibly irreversible trend: that of giving workers a new sense of mobility they’ve never had before.

Consider a few simple facts. Today more than 45% of employees now work remotely (25% full time), which means changing jobs is a simple as getting a new email address. Only 11% of companies offer formal career programs for employees, so in many cases, the only opportunity to grow is by leaving. And wages, benefits, and working conditions are all a “work in process.” Today US companies spend 32% of their entire payroll on benefits and most are totally redesigning them to improve healthcare, flexibility, and education.

Our new Healthy Organization Research found that this is a big work in process. Today only 13% of companies survey employees to understand what they need and only 18% actively manage and optimize workloads to remove stress. (Report here.)

So what’s going on?

This is not a Great Resignation, it’s a Great Migration.

Employees are migrating from “crummy jobs” to “better jobs” and from “companies that don’t seem to care” to “companies that really really care.” And for many workers this means moving to companies with opportunities for growth, promotion, and even a new industry.

We call these companies “Irresistible Organizations,” and our research found that about one in 7 are there today.

So workers, many of whom have been freed from their desks and long commutes, are simply voting with their feet (their virtual feet.)

I don’t think this is going away. For years companies have been debating what to do about employee engagement and retention as if it’s a sideline problem for HR to worry about. Today this is a CEO-level issue and a new breed of leaders is going to learn that taking care of employees is the number one thing executives must do.

Consider the following facts. Today more than 90% of all jobs in the US (including even truck drivers) are service-centered jobs. In other words, they add value through their human touch, care, consideration, or ingenuity. This means that every company, regardless of your industry, is essentially in the people business.

Second, with more than 14 million jobs open and a US workforce of around 160 million people, you already are missing almost one in ten workers for your company. Research from Citibank predicts that as many as ten million new jobs will be created from the US Infrastructure and Build Back Better programs, so next year it may be one in eight. In other words, if you walk down the hall in your office and count desks, every eight desks is a vacant seat.

Third, the financial return on investment in people is higher than ever. Amazon.com is planning on spending $4 Billion on hiring in Q4 alone (just to maintain their on-time delivery brand) and they aren’t even trying to improve retention. If they can afford to do this, you can too.

What does this mean for the future?

You have to run your company as if every employee has one foot out the door. It’s time to ramp up your Employee Experience program, focus managers on listening and supporting people, and seriously invest in career pathways and internal growth for your staff.

This is why new solutions like the Talent Marketplace, Capability Academies, Talent Intelligence Platforms, and Learning in the Flow of Work are so hot. Without an internal strategy for mobility and development, people just “mobilize” right out the door.

The Great Resignation is not just an interesting trend from the pandemic. It’s a permanent and long-lasting change in our workforce. And it’s one that’s good for workers and wages, but will put many employers under stress.

What Should You Do?

First, take employee experience seriously. This is not some fad that came along with Zoom and Teams, it’s an existential change in the way you manage people, and we have an entire assessment and body of research to help.

Second, focus attention on your employee brand. Recruiting today is heavily dependent on your reputation, so if your people are leaving or your company isn’t well-positioned, I can guarantee your talent pipeline is weak. Even big companies like Facebook, who have suffered from damaged brands from their own behavior, are now finding it hard to hire.

Third, get serious about facilitated internal mobility. Companies like Bon Secours Mercy Health, one of the largest healthcare providers in the US, are creating data-driven career pathways to develop new skills in telemedicine, informatics, patient care, and leadership. You should sit down and identify your future needs and create career pathways to get people there. (Hiring simply won’t work.)

Fourth, build a Talent Intelligence strategy. Without good data about the roles, jobs, and skills you need in the future, you’re flying blind. Each line manager will simply try to hire replacement jobs but you’ll have no strategy to develop people. A whole new domain of HR is needed: the “skills and job architecture” team, and we can help you set this up.

Fifth, bring your CEO and CFO along on the mission. Most CEOs know that talent is their #1 priority, but now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Investments in tailored and well-designed benefits programs, end-to-end wellbeing programs, and digital workplace tools to improve productivity and wellbeing are critical.

The Great Resignation is a big deal, but let’s use it to our advantage. As we enter 2022 it’s time to focus on your people strategy first. The rest of the business will be glad you did.


The purpose of “purpose”

If 2020 was all about crises—the pandemic and the outrage in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, to name two—and companies’ resilience and ability to navigate disruption, 2021 feels like it has been the year of “purpose.” Companies are issuing purpose statements with great fanfare, and the phrase purpose-driven company is so ubiquitous that it risks joining the ranks of strategic and going forward—words and phrases that are added almost reflexively to every sentence of corporate-speak.

Recent comments from General Electric CEO Larry Culp about the company’s historic decision to break up the conglomerate into three separate companies echoed this emphasis on purpose. Increasingly, recruiting and retaining talent relies more on the power of a company’s brand, Culp told Fortune. “It’s about position and purpose,” he said. “There was a point in time when people said, ‘I want to work for GE.’ Today, people are more focused on addressing climate, or being in healthcare, or in aviation.”

And that’s all to the good. Given all the global challenges such as climate change and inequality, and the central role that business can play in addressing them rather than leaving them solely to governments to fix, companies should be broadening their apertures to think about their impact. Any statements they choose to make, however, need to be both relevant to what they do and accurate.

Phil Martens, the former CEO of Atlanta-based aluminum company Novelis, who has served on many boards, recently told me that companies should rethink the old frameworks of being either B2B or B2C and should replace them with B2S: business-to-society.

Companies should rethink the old frameworks of being either B2B or B2C and should replace them with B2S: business-to-society.

“At each company I’m involved with, the question is the same: What is your solution for society, and how do you make that the core vision and the core driver of your company?” said Martens, who pushed during his time at Novelis to focus on recycling, because aluminum is an energy-intensive product to make. (He referred to this recycling as “urban mining.”) “The question of what your company can do for society,” Martens said, “then flows into organizational strategy. That approach can take a while to take hold, because people have to change their framework and realize that there are leadership opportunities, innovation opportunities, margin opportunities that they never thought of before in this broader approach.”

Reframing that purpose discussion takes time and hard work. Unfortunately, many companies are whiffing on the challenge, and instead are adopting the language of purpose without much action behind it. Just saying that your company works to make the world a better place—or some similarly anodyne expression—isn’t going to cut it.

In a recent headline, Axios predicted that the C-suite job of the future will be chief purpose officer. But purpose is not a responsibility that CEOs can delegate. They need to own this conversation, because it should inform the company’s overall positioning and strategy. It’s not just about talking points.

The truth test
So how do you come up with a meaningful purpose statement?

It starts with a goal that feels directly connected to the business, rather than a lofty statement that could be used by dozens or hundreds of other organizations. “It has to be real and tangible and live,” said author Margaret Heffernan when I interviewed her about her most recent book, Uncharted: How to Navigate the Future. “It has to be something people feel that they can do.”

More PwC insights

Ten Years to Midnight
These are the difficult questions that every leader must wrestle with, even though they may seem philosophical and not directly relevant to the bottom line: Why do you matter? How do you make a difference? What would be lost if your organization went out of business?

Healthcare businesses can make a credible case that they are improving or saving people’s lives. A nonprofit is often founded with a clear idea of the impact it wants to have. But the job can seem trickier if you are in a kind of commodity business. Imagine for a second that you run, say, a company that processes beets for sugar. How do you build a purpose around that?

Paul Kenward took up that challenge. As managing director of British Sugar, which is based in the east of England, he faced the task of defining a sense of purpose for the company. In my interview with him, he shared how the company rallied around the mission of creating “a thriving, homegrown sugar industry.” To back up those words with specifics, Kenward highlighted the fact that the company’s veteran engineers started as apprentices; that the entire crop is homegrown, with nothing imported; and that the business has reduced its water consumption by 26% since 2014. “Brits can be quite cynical about ‘visions,’ dismissing them as fluffy, airy things,” said Kenward. “But I think [visions] can be really important.”

Kenward’s approach checks the important boxes. It feels unique to the company, there are facts and details to support it by showing what it looks like in action, and all employees can have a sense of how they are contributing directly to something that is bigger than the company itself. That is the purpose of “purpose.”

Does your company’s purpose statement pass these tests?


Successful teams: Superstars need not apply

The role of the superstar within a sports team—even in individual sports such as tennis and golf—is undergoing an interesting change. The biggest soccer stories of the summer bear this out: first, an Italy team with no obvious stars won soccer’s UEFA European Championship. Team captain Giorgio Chiellini put that success down to one thing: “we put the interest of the team before the individual.” Italy’s top scorer over its eight games at the “Euros” scored just two goals—but the distinction was shared by four players, each scoring a pair.

Over the past summer, Ronaldo, now 36, joined Manchester United FC for €15 million (US$17.2 million) amid reports that he had never bonded with his Juventus teammates and coaches. One Juventus player, Leonardo Bonucci, admitted that they hadn’t played like a team but rather to make Ronaldo score. Jonathan Liew, writing in the Guardian, noted that Ronaldo is shown alone in every advertisement appearance: “This is not to say Ronaldo doesn’t inspire feelings. It’s just that they’re not the sort of feelings one normally associates with collective success in a team ball sport.”

It was a slightly different scenario at FC Barcelona, the club that lost Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s archrival when he had starred for Real Madrid CF, after a decade of Messidependencia. That term used to refer to the Argentine striker’s ability to conjure a goal in a tight match—Messi scored a record-breaking 672 goals in 778 games for Barça—but more recently, it’s highlighted the club’s unhealthy financial relationship with him. Barcelona paid Messi an unsustainable €555 million (US$674 million) in the four years between 2017 and 2021. “Barça parasited off Messi, until he began eating the club,” according to strategy+business contributor Simon Kuper, author of The Barcelona Complex. Without Messi, though, the club is languishing in ninth place in Spain’s La Liga this season, after having won it ten times with him.

The state of sports 2021
Today’s vision of teamwork has shifted from a system that revolves around an individual to a system that revolves around all the individuals working together: collective functioning. “[Nowadays] players think more about collective functioning than that moment of individualism,” said Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcântara in an interview with the Guardian.

Collective functioning is about what can be harnessed and created from the intersections of people’s skills and emotions; it’s the emotions that create a ripple effect that forms a culture. This is where Chiellini’s vision of the team excels—and catches up with what the business world has been talking about for decades. (See The Wisdom of Teams, by PwC managing director Jon Katzenbach and coauthor Douglas K. Smith, which was published in 1993 and has since become an enduring business classic.)

Perhaps the most compelling argument for the appeal of collective functioning came from golfer Rory McIlroy, a superstar in an individual sport who is now hooked on playing in a team. At the end of the 2021 Ryder Cup, in which the US squad beat Europe, he said, “I love being a part of this team,” looking away from the camera as tears filled his eyes. “I hope little girls and boys today aspire to play in this event or the Solheim Cup [the top female team trophy for golf], as there is nothing better than being in a team.” It was a reversal of what he had said in 2009 when asked about the competition (and when he had yet to be picked for the team): “It’s an exhibition at the end of the day…. I’m not going to go running around fist-pumping.”

Similarly strong emotions about teams were harnessed in 2020 by overachieving NFL side the Cleveland Browns, whose players connected to one another through the pandemic lockdown by sharing emotive stories about their four Hs: heroes, history, heartbreak, and hopes. Stories assign value to experiences and are easy to remember. The Browns used other tactics to bring the team together, such as appointing captains on a game-by-game basis, and finished the season 11–5, their best record in more than 20 years.

Optimal performance
The conditions required for optimal team performance, according to the late Professor J. Richard Hackman, author of Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances, have nothing to do with the talent of the team star. Teams that share resources, and have flexibility and opportunities for collective learning, still might underachieve if their structure and leadership are wrong. But get those elements right, and the team will flourish.

No matter how well superstars such as Ronaldo or Messi may play, the success of their teams depends on the weakest player, not the strongest.

You may know about the O-ring theory, named after the tiny gasket that blew in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle mission, causing the rocket’s destruction. In economics, it refers to the theory that the smallest components of a complex process must all work to achieve an effective outcome. So, if the value of an organization is based on a combination of each employee’s contributions, then success is determined by the weakest of those employees, not the strongest.

In sports teams, not to mention economics and business organizations, this is also known as the weak link theory; no matter how well Ronaldo or Messi may play, the success of their teams depends on the weakest player, not the strongest. Chris Anderson and David Sally make a convincing case for the application of this theory to soccer in their book, The Numbers Game—with backing from Diego Simeone, coach of La Liga champion Atletico Madrid, who says that it is why he and his peers spend hours looking to exploit opposition weaknesses.

The debate, according to Soccernomics coauthor Stefan Szymanski, raises a curious question about recruitment: if a player’s value is dependent on their teammates, why do soccer clubs only buy players as individuals, rather than as combinations of players? After all, teammates who collaborate more effectively, in any organization, can outperform those whose individual skills may be superior. The key is to discover who works best with whom, and who brings out the best in others.

This is not always easy. Sometimes even the people involved don’t know the answer. One study on team dynamics in soccer asked players which teammate they connected with most successfully on the pitch. Only one-third picked the correct person, based on an analysis of data on who passed successfully to whom. Teams that recognize the power of collective functioning and have leaders who create environments for those partnerships to flourish reap the benefits. Just ask the Italy team.


How To Tailor Recruiting Strategies And Improve Candidate Engagement

On September 6, 2021, the United States government officially ended federal unemployment benefits. While some states opted to end the benefit sooner, the labor market has been in a state of flux since the cut-off. Workers have walked away from their jobs en masse leaving staffing and recruiting professionals little time to piece together effective strategies. We’ve reached a critical moment as we look to combat The Great Resignation. How did the labor market get to this breaking point? What can Talent professionals do to help? The end of unemployment benefits is a significant marker to study as we search for these answers.

Since September, PandoLogic has used its advanced proprietary data sets to track and highlight significant trends in the labor market. We aimed to study the relationship between employer behavior as well as the job seeker’s response in the weeks following the unemployment cut-off dates. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Stats and trends from June through September
What these stats and trends mean
What you can do to apply these trends to your hiring strategy in 2022
The State of Recruitment Post-Unemployment Benefits
In July of 2021, employers in states where the unemployment benefits were cut off early began anticipating a hiring boom. They increased their job listings to get in front of new job seekers re-entering the labor market. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate steadily dropped from 5.4% to 5.2% overall.

A proactive set of candidates also anticipating the cut-off began their job search two weeks early as well. Job seekers were steadily trickling into the labor market to shop around for a new job that could meet their needs.

As shown here, applicants per job increased when unemployment benefits ended, indicating an increase in active job seekers. This happened concurrently with a decrease in unemployment rates. 

Below you’ll find clicks-per-job and applications-per-job trends for all states. You’ll see that clicks increased way before applications.

It’s clear that job seeker behavior is changing. According to the data, this behavior indicates one thing: people WANT to work, but they’re shopping around and holding out for more meaningful careers. In the weeks following the end of unemployment benefits, job seeker behavior indicated an increase in active job seekers. But seeing more clicks per job vs applications indicates that candidates are shopping around for their next job.

What Does This Mean?
While “job shopping” has increased, we’re also seeing workers walk out of jobs at alarming rates. Our take is that, ultimately, the want for work is there, but the need for an incentive is stronger. A return to our human missions is of top importance.

It’s not enough that a job has been made available. The job in question needs to meet the candidate’s hierarchy of needs. Can it provide comfortable living? Can it fulfill a professional goal? Do the pros outweigh any potential cons? And in this sustained state of a pandemic, safety is also a top concern. This is where understanding your target candidate comes into play for 2022. These sentiments won’t go away anytime soon. So, knowing what matters most to your candidate can allow you to shape a strategy to help you attract, and retain, qualified candidates.

What Can You Do To Improve Candidate Engagement?
To build an effective hiring plan, it’s important to start listening. To better understand candidate behavior PandoLogic teamed up with Tracey Parsons, architect of the recruitment marketing and employer brand movement and owner of Parsons Strategic Consulting. In our study, we learned that today’s job seeker values transparency and authenticity. It’s time that Talent professionals lead with these values. Cultivating a personalized recruiting experience should be top of mind.

Offer any notable benefits and wages upfront. Your job titles and descriptions hold a lot more weight than you think. A strong job title can often include information like salary, sign-on bonuses, flexibility (think remote or hybrid), shift times, etc. Use that space to your advantage by highlighting what’s most important to your workforce. Our study revealed a 13% increase in jobs with salary information shortly after the end of unemployment benefits. That led to a 52% increase in conversions.

“[This proves that] when we listen to what the audience wants and deliver, they will convert at a better rate. The action of adding this information will save your recruiters and your candidates time by getting the cash conversation out of the way early,” said Parsons.

Thankfully, there are recruitment software tools on the market that can allow you to A/B test your job ads to ensure you’re always resonating with your audience.

Another way to create a more personalized experience is by incorporating AI chatbots into your hiring process. Tools like Wade & Wendy can offer powerful and customizable chatting functionalities that will engage your candidates and make them feel valued and respected. This is crucial. A candidate that feels supported from application to interview to onboarding is more likely to stay long term.

To stay competitive today, Talent professionals everywhere need to cultivate a culture of retention vs. churn and burn. Benefits or not, today’s job seeker understands their power and will use it. They will seek employers that have their best interests in mind and leave the rest behind.


How to minimize the impact of global crises on your employee and customer experience

Recent global crises have caused significant labor shortages – and the impact is leading businesses to reevaluate how to attract the right talent and protect their customer experiences from the fallout. Read our analysis and tips on balancing labor shortage with great CX.

As we move towards the 2021 holidays and the new year, ongoing labor shortages are becoming an ever-more glaring issue.

With a tighter labor market, companies emerging from the fallout of the pandemic are having to balance their economic growth with efforts to retain workers. More workers are considering whether their current or previous workplaces are right for them – and whether they want to return to such an environment.

Not only that, but consumer demands are higher than ever before. As our 2022 Global Consumer Trends report found, consumers want better treatment and their money’s worth – a hard goal to achieve when worker shortages are prevalent.

How can you minimize the impact of unforeseen global crises on your business while also providing customers with the experiences they desire?

Read our analysis of why labor shortages have come about, and our tips for encouraging the labor force while protecting your customer experience.

Free Download: Stay ahead of the curve with our 2022 Global Consumer Trends Report

Key labor statistics
It’s different from other US labor shortages
While labor shortages and an impact on economic growth aren’t a new problem, right now these issues coincide with a higher unemployment rate. In the US, from Q4 2019 the number of job openings rose 33%, but over 9 million people are unemployed. There’s a significant disconnect happening between employers and workers that’s driving lower labor force participation rates.

Workers are actively seeking new roles
Employees are radically reevaluating their current roles and the part they play in their daily lives. 20% of workers changed their job role during the COVID-19 pandemic. The labor market’s focus is changing, and businesses are struggling to keep up with staffing shortages.

Leisure and hospitality businesses were the most affected
Understandably given the in-person nature of the roles and the high risk of infection, the leisure and hospitality industry has been greatly affected by the pandemic. Around 1.7 million workers in this sector who lost their job since the end of 2019 have moved to a different sector or stopped work entirely, leaving a large skills gap in the labor market for manual services jobs.

Why is there a labor shortage?
The current global problem isn’t a new one. With working-age population growth stagnating and wage acceleration continuing to be slow, labor shortage was a problem long overdue.

However, right now there are several compounding issues exacerbating labor shortages, meaning a slow decline in the labor market has become a glaring issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic caused the loss of thousands of jobs and the closure of many companies, leading to 9.5 million people being classed as unemployed.

However, even though job openings grew over 2021 (with around 9.2 million open in August), trying to fill positions is tougher than ever.

But are these labor shortages due to health concerns? Or are they caused by the COVID-19 unemployment benefits offered on a federal level, as some states believe?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) polled 1,000 unemployed Americans for the reasons why they aren’t tempted by labor markets. They found that:

42% hadn’t received a response from jobs they’d applied to
32% were worried about being exposed to COVID-19
29% were being offered less pay than their previous role
17% were looking for a career shift
11% thought that expanded unemployment benefits gave them the ability to be choosier about jobs
9% were earning more through benefits than a new job would offer
Key Takeaway: The labor force is applying for jobs, but the roles available aren’t meeting their expectations – making this more of an engagement problem than a labor shortage problem. Engaged workers mean a better customer experience: 79% of companies with engaged employees have a significantly better customer experience than companies without.

Use experience management to ensure customers don’t feel the fallout of global crises.

The Great Resignation
Driven by the world-changing events of the past two years, employees have begun to reevaluate their priorities. What role does work play in their lives, and are they happy with the status quo? Can they find higher wages while also getting a better work-life balance?

Many, it seems, have found labor markets wanting. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July 2021 alone 4 million Americans quit their jobs. The Great Resignation, as it’s being referred to, has spread across the globe as workers consider how they want to spend their time – and whether their jobs are really right for them.

Key Takeaway: Companies need to offer more than just a job to fill open positions – employees are taking a stand on what matters to them. Businesses that see their employees as just another number might find that they suffer more from labor shortages as the labor force goes elsewhere for better benefits.

Not only that, but customers care more about employee experience than ever. According to McKinsey, one-fourth of consumers think that a company’s treatment of its employees is a consideration factor when making a purchase.

The ongoing skills gap
Before the pandemic hit, employers were struggling to find candidates that had the skills they needed for their vacant roles – and that issue is still ongoing in this new labor market.

SHRM’s research found that 60% of businesses say they can’t find applicants with the right skillset – and on the other side, 30% of applicants say their skills aren’t matching the jobs on offer.

The global trend towards technological advancement was hastened by the abrupt need for remote work and safer working environments, making the skills gap wider. COVID-19 sped up the adoption of digital technologies by three to four years, changing everything from customer experience to supply chain to internal operations.

Businesses all across the board are looking to hire workers that can keep up – and are finding it hard to source them.

Key Takeaway: Brands should seek technology-skilled talent from the labor market – but also accept that investing in potential workers with training and development might be the best solution for finding the perfect candidate.

Training your staff doesn’t help you to just retain workers – it also helps you to provide a better customer experience. With more workers able to consistently learn and adapt to new company directions, your customers will also benefit.

An aging workforce
The pandemic accelerated issues that were already soon to happen – namely, the rising proportion of older workers.

The close nature of retirement for many workers affected by the pandemic may have been partially responsible for many workers leaving labor markets.

Rather than waiting for a few short years to retire, many took the opportunity early. In 2020, 20% of the population of the US was retired, a 5% increase from 2015. Unfortunately, it will only continue.

Key Takeaway: There are always external factors that will affect the labor market – and in many cases, attempting to streamline recruitment or better target candidates might not make a difference. Learning how to separate internal business issues from the customer experience is key for making sure your business thrives, even when there are difficulties.

How brands and nations are resolving their labor market problem
Reducing financial support
As mentioned previously, there are concerns that financial unemployment support is a factor in workers not returning to jobs. Half of US states are planning to end additional federal-funded benefits to try and inspire higher labor force participation and reduce the unemployment rate.

However, only three states’ unemployment benefits, when combined with federal unemployment benefits, were worth more than average wages. Reducing the unemployment rate might not correlate with reducing financial support.

Wage growth and offering new benefits
To tempt workers to fill urgent job openings, business leaders are offering wage increases. The average hourly wage for non-farm workers working for private companies rose $0.20 in April, $0.13 in May, and $0.10 in June 2021. Particularly in the restaurant industry, companies are having to offer more money and better benefits – such as an emergency child care program.

Reducing capacity
For some businesses, reducing capacity has been the only way to cope with worker retention difficulties and ongoing safety restrictions. For example, the restaurant industry has had to greatly reduce the services it offers, even though overall consumer spending at restaurants rose to $440 billion in the 12 months ending in August 2021.

Tips for supporting your labor force and protecting customer experience
Having considered the nature of these labor shortages, the actions businesses and states have taken and candidates’ reasoning for refusing roles, there appears to be a mismatch between brand and employee experience. The labor supply and the labor market are balanced – but the incentive to work isn’t enough to convince potential employees.

Problems that affect you – supply chain issues, corporate profits – aren’t the focus for potential workers. Their lives outside of work and their experiences in work are the deciding factor in what roles they choose to take. Encouraging the labor force and retaining employees will mean looking critically at your business from an outside perspective and changing your offering to match.

Here are our tips for avoiding the labor shortage – and for protecting customer experiences.

Offer competitive wages
Wage growth has been stagnant for decades, and with the current federal minimum wage lagging $5.13/hour behind inflation from 1968, wage acceleration is long overdue. Workers reevaluating their working lives have been given a stark view of this problem – and they’re looking to rectify it with any new role they may take.

Enable flexible working
Workers have now experienced flexible working arrangements – and they’re not keen to go back. Before the pandemic, people had to accept working conditions as they were as the alternative was unattainable – but after nearly two years of flexible arrangements, they’re not keen on going back to the old ways.

88% of workers whose main capital is knowledge are looking for flexibility in hours and location – and brands are going to have to be flexible themselves to find workers to suit their needs.

Evaluate work differently
Before the pandemic, work completed at home was perceived as less valuable. In the new world of working, evaluating employees needs to be different.

According to Citrix, 86% of workers are looking to find roles with companies that prioritize outcomes over output. Rather than seeing 40 hours of work as the goal, companies need to see work quality as the measure of a job well done.

Finding workers for hard-to-fill positions might be easier with a better approach to the value of work – and making this view clear during the recruitment process.

Take the pulse on employee experience
Listening to your employees doesn’t have to be intrusive. Taking the pulse on workers’ experience can be mutually beneficial – and give you insights into your employee engagement that can stave off labor shortage issues down the line.

You can see not only how your current workers feel about your business, but understand how future employees will see you. How do your workers feel about employee referral programs? What do they want from their jobs? What are the needs of new hires and what actions have you taken that ensure your current workers are likely to stay?

An employee experience program is vital for making sure disruption stays at a minimum during times of crisis. The past two years have offered you the unique opportunity to improve employee experience – so don’t miss out on attracting workers over your competitors.

Focus on the quality of customer experience, not the quantity of interactions
Cultivating connections that are meaningful between your brand and your customers is the best way to mitigate fallout from issues in finding workers. Rather than raise prices and reduce services when workers are scarce and labor costs are high, focus on providing competitive experiences that will have your customers coming back and bringing others to your brand.

Using best practices for customer experience is just the starting point. Having a sophisticated approach to customer interactions that can adapt as your business capacity and capability change is key for ensuring your CX doesn’t suffer when staffing shortages become a problem.


The Person in Front of You Isn’t Headed Where You’re Going

The stories my son Grey finds the most entertaining are those about my father’s legendary lack of direction. He loves hearing how Grandpa would regularly get lost coming home from work, a place we drive to every single day. My father would nearly always end up about seven miles from our house at a restaurant called the “Giant Artichoke.” They sold only deep-fried fresh artichoke hearts. (The 1970s were kind of awesome.) But Grey’s favorite stories are about Grandpa driving around with the whole family.

We would be driving for a long time to a place that didn’t take a long time to get to. When one of us came to the realization that we were once again astray, we’d ask our intrepid drive if he knew where he was going. His most common response? “I’m just following the guy in front of me, he knows where he’s going.” It may sound like a joke, but my dad regularly drove hours out of his way based solely on this “the other guy knows” philosophy.

I direct my team to perform “blind” market pricings whenever possible. Blind pricing is matching a role and pricing it based on all the available details except what the person is currently being paid. This ensures the pricing used is not biased by the current compensation being paid. In my experience, too many compensation professionals choose, weight, or adjust data to align with what an incumbent is already being paid, or what a recruiter has said it will take to fill the position. Like my dad, this assumes the person in front of you knows where YOU are going.

I recently had someone new on my team price some jobs and the data came in a bit lower than the current staff for several positions. When I did an initial review with the client, they were shocked. They were a startup and had been intentionally paying people below market as they waited for funding to come in. We went back to the data and found that Level 1 and 2 positions were similar in price, but the jump to Level 3 was more than 40%! It turns out the Level 3 data and above matched several other surveys, but the Level 1 and 2 data matched the company’s current pay. In this case, the current pay was wrong. We releveled the data, and everything made more sense.

When I dig into analyses done by others, I often see adjustments being made to “bring the market in line with expectations.” Data is data, it is not information. Data is numbers, it is not a rulebook. Do your job analysis. Be confident in the role details. Price to the role, not the current pay levels. Then, evaluate where things stand and what to do. If you are paying below market, but can’t afford more, then just be cognizant of the opportunity that provides competitors. If you are paying above market, but the person is doing a great job, just make sure they know they are being paid well and fix things slowly over the long run. Please stop selecting and modifying data to match your past pay decisions. Just let the market data tell its story and use your own intelligence to decide what to do with that data.


Ten Things to Do Before Resigning

The number of people quitting their jobs reached a record high of 4.4 million in September 2021. Dubbed the Great Resignation, this mass exodus of workers from their positions is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to some experts.

“Everybody put their career plans on hold for the better part of a year of two,” says Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO, a company providing human resources outsourcing solutions to small and medium-sized businesses.

Now that many companies are returning to pre-pandemic operations, workers may feel this is the time to pursue new opportunities. What’s more, after working remotely for more than a year, many people are looking for greater flexibility going forward.

“The pandemic has made people take stock and decide: Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?” says Greg Selker, managing director and North American technology practice leader for executive search firm Stanton Chase.

However, before you decide to say goodbye to your current job, be sure to do these things first:

Understand why you want to resign.

“Before quitting, it’s worth reflecting on the reasons driving that decision,” says Kim Fulton, employee experience principal with global management consulting firm Kearney.

If you want to pursue a different line of work, changing jobs may be the only way to do that. However, if you are largely satisfied with your current job but would like more flexibility or higher compensation, that may be possible without switching employers.

Talk to Your Current Employer
Once you know why you want to leave, talk to your boss about your reasons. You don’t necessarily have to say you’re thinking about quitting to sit down and discuss whether there may be opportunities for remote work, higher compensation or a promotion at your current organization.

“Employers are really flexible right now because they want to retain their talent,” says Meredith Graham, chief people officer at Ensono, which provides managed services and solutions for businesses.

Have a Career Path in Mind
If you decide it’s in your best interest to change jobs, keep the big picture in mind as you plot your next move.

“It’s not enough to have another job lined up,” says Brandon Ashton, director of retirement security at Cornerstone Financial Services in Southfield, Michigan. “I think (workers) should have a career plan.”

That means thinking not just about your next job but also the ones that may come after that. As you begin your employment search, keep an eye on how a new job will move you in the direction of meeting your larger career goals.

Build Up Your Savings
Demand for employees is strong right now, but if you resign without another job lined up, don’t assume you’ll immediately be able to find a new position. “Realistically, it’ll be a few months, not a few weeks,” Ashton says.

Even if you have a new job lined up before resigning, there could be a gap before paychecks start arriving. Either way, make sure you have enough money in savings to cover a few months of expenses if needed.

Evaluate Compensation and Benefits
Before resigning, compare both your current compensation and benefits to what is being offered by other employers.

It’s a mistake to make employment decisions based on income alone, Graham says. There are many value-added benefits – from health care to retirement fund contributions – that could make it more beneficial to stay in a current position rather than seek out a new one.

Consider Company Culture
Company culture should also factor into a decision to resign. “The experience we have at work goes so far beyond the compensation,” Fulton says.

For instance, some businesses are built on the ideal of collaborative work while others may focus on empowering employees to pursue individual projects. Flexibility, communication and ownership are other examples of principles that may be promoted in the workplace.

Finding an employer with a company culture that aligns with your values can be key to job satisfaction. If your current company’s culture is already a good match for you, that may be reason enough to reconsider resigning.
Some employers will pay workers for unused personal time or sick days when they leave a job. However, these policies may have caps on how much is paid, and not every firm offers this perk.

If you have paid time off accrued, be sure to use it up before resigning, Ashton suggests. There is no reason to leave money behind when quitting a job.

Find a New Job
It’s always best to have another job lined up before quitting. “Don’t resign and then begin your job search,” Selker says. “Resign when you have an offer in hand.”

Having a job offer lined up also gives you one last chance to do a final comparison between firms to determine which will be the best fit for you, your career and your life goals. Again, look beyond compensation and consider factors such as flexibility, benefits and company culture.

Give Appropriate Notice
Once you’ve decided it’s time to resign, end your employment on a high note by providing verbal and written notice to your direct manager at least two weeks in advance of your anticipated end date.

“There’s nothing an employer hates more than a letter of resignation that says I’m leaving tomorrow,” Starkman says. While you may think you have nothing to lose by simply walking out the door, Starkman reminds people, “Your reputation is irreplaceable, (and) everybody talks.”

You don’t want a negative departure from a company to affect your ability to get a job or reference in the future.

Source :https://money.usnews.com/careers/articles/things-to-do-before-resigning

How to Foster an Ownership Culture Within Your Company – By Chelsey Beale, Fortuna Advisors

Nobody arbitrarily hands out a promotion. We strategically observe and guide our staff, while assessing behaviors and attributes that show someone is a candidate for advancement. If you want to show others what it takes to succeed in an upward role, start by empowering them to act like they have a stake in the company’s growth. It begins by encouraging them to have an ownership mentality and showing them how to model owner-like behaviors day in and day out.

I have been supporting organizational development for over 20 years and no two company cultures are alike. In my experience, companies that foster a true ownership culture enable each employee to proactively take actions to improve the customer experience, increase organizational differentiation, and discover competitive advantages that will deliver better results for the company. When every employee is motivated to act like an owner, they take more pride in their work and they are more emotionally committed to their jobs. They value opportunities to prove themselves, they drive forward progress and they are more confident in their business decisions.

Marwaan Karame, one of our Partners at Fortuna, often cites 5 traits we observe within an ownership culture. Although these characteristics typically flourish in a governance system with the right measure of performance, processes and incentives, every individual can independently take steps to embody these attributes, whether you’re an employee, a boss, or both. Adopting these qualities can greatly advance your career and the career of others. Consider which of these are within your and your employees’ reach, and which you should advocate for on your company’s behalf.

First, because an ownership mindset means adding value to the organization, spend company money like it’s yours. Be disciplined and purposeful with your business expenditures and save money where it makes sense. For example, be frugal with supplies and make modest travel arrangements for business trips. Don’t order something on a menu that you wouldn’t order for yourself otherwise. Instead of spending money just because it’s in your budget, think like an owner and use extra funds to find creative ways to generate value for your company.

The second important ownership trait is knowing where to direct your attention and resources to get the most value, which we call extreme prioritization. Statistically, 80% of a company’s success comes from 20% of its activities, so owners should be hyper-focused on that 20%. Show off your ownership attitude by practicing extreme prioritization in your own sphere of influence. Devote your resources to investments that are profitable and pass on the ones that aren’t. Getting caught up a lot of mediocre projects distracts you from the bigger ones that deserve resources and attention. Be selective to maximize impact.

Being an owner also involves making tough decisions and taking risks that don’t always work out in your favor. Yet, a successful leader knows you have to be willing to fail in order to grow.

An even better leader creates an environment where everyone is comfortable taking risks. Eagerness to experiment and accept failure should be encouraged to fuel long-term value creation and nurture independence. Be bold! Offer new ideas but also be willing to admit defeat, when it comes, then course correct, and keep pushing.

Fourth, nobody wants to be responsible for making a hasty judgment, especially an owner. But failing to act on an opportunity gives you a 100% chance of accomplishing nothing. You will never have all of the information you need to make the perfect decisions, but owners and leaders learn to act on what is available. More doing and less talking is the solution to crippling inertia that results from “analysis paralysis.” Consider the pros and cons and do your homework but be decisive and drive results. In today’s rapidly changing environment, you don’t have time to overthink every detail, so be confident in your decision process and own it.

Lastly, by proactively developing new capabilities, you show that you are in it for the long haul, committed to your organization, and actively seeking opportunities to grow. Success is all about long- and short-term wins, and your decisions are guided by your vision for the future of your company. Seek opportunities to invest in your colleagues and focus on 3- and 5-year goals instead of only quarterly numbers.

Not every company instills an ownership culture among its ranks. Yet there are ways to evolve to embrace and support this type of change. It can start with you. Act like an owner, and let others, including your supervisor, know what you’re doing and why. Transformations can happen when everyone is focused on the common goal of adding value to the company.


Pandemic drove changes in shape of workforce, not unemployment

The pandemic has led to major shifts in labour market participation – rather than mass unemployment as feared – according to the Resolution Foundation think tank.

There has been increased employment among younger women, but older workers and many men have been pushed out of the labour market altogether, it found.

Its Begin Again report with the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics points out that unemployment is only 0.3 percentage points higher than it was at the start of the pandemic.

Instead, the number of people who are economically inactive – who are not working or looking for work – has increased by 586,000 since the start of the crisis. This is far higher than the number of migrant workers who have left the UK workforce over the same period, it reports.

Among 55 to 64-year-olds, workforce participation has fallen by 1.2 percentage points since mid-2019, a sharper drop than in any other recession in the past 40 years.

Labour market
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HR roles survey: Response to the coronavirus pandemic and priorities for 2021

Participation among men between 25 and 34 has fallen by 1.6 percentage points in the past two years.

By contrast, women’s participation in the labour force has increased by 0.4%, and women now make up 48% of the workforce compared to 44% in 1992.

The Resolution Foundation also estimates that around 500,000 women have moved from part-time to full-time work since the pandemic began. Participation among women with young children has increased by 5.4 percentage points.

The think-tank attributes these shifts in labour market activity to two key reasons: second earners increasing hours to offset their partner’s loss of earnings (due to furlough or redundancy) and the increase in remote working enabling more women to enter work or increase their hours.

It predicts that remote and hybrid working will fuel wider, longer-lasting changes in the coming years. However, this could cause disruption for lower earners, who are less likely to be able to access this type of work.

Economist Hannah Slaughter said “unprecedented policy action” had prevented the mass unemployment many feared when the pandemic began.
“The pandemic has seen older workers withdraw from the labour market – and while anxieties about high levels of Covid-19 may understandably put some off from working today, the danger is they find themselves in early retirement tomorrow,” she said.

“While younger men have also exited the labour market, more of their female counterparts have joined the workforce. Mothers in particular have increased their hours for a number of reasons, from the need to offset their partner’s loss of earnings, to new opportunities created by remote working.

“We need to bank the benefits of more flexible working patterns in post-pandemic Britain, and avoid the risk of remote workers being turned into second class staff, as we have done with so many part-time workers.”


How the Candidate Experience Is Your Competitive Advantage

Over the past year, employers have been plagued with frenetic hiring and employees quitting. Recruiters are getting stressed out since recruiting, hiring, and retention strategies are all over the place. As a result, candidate resentment is continuing to grow. Talent Board Candidate Experience research shows that sustaining a quality candidate experience is difficult for companies big or small. Despite the changes in this post-pandemic world, the building blocks of a quality recruiting process and candidate experience remain unchanged. Ensuring the delivery of consistent communication and feedback loops are critical in today’s competitive landscape.

We control the candidate experience dials through the technologies we use, the processes we run, the timeliness of the communications we send to candidates, and the recruiter requisition load. We see how improving these aspects positively impacts brand affinity, referrals, and the business bottom line every year. This shows that the candidate experience is your competitive advantage.

During this informative webinar, Talent Board and the Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards President, Kevin Grossman, will share insights from their candidate experience benchmark research and teach you how:

Employers can improve all communication and feedback loops throughout the recruiting and hiring process
HR and recruiting technologies are empowering employers to provide better candidate and employee experiences
Candidates will take their brand alliance, product purchases, and relationships elsewhere when they have poor experiences – and how they’ll increase it when it’s great

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