5 Tips for Building Trust When Employees Return to Work

The day where people return to normal routines around work doesn’t seem as far off today as it did just a few weeks ago. As politicians itching to “re-open” the world look at ways to revive normalcy, companies now have to do the same as they consider operational needs and employee safety.

As the work environment shifts back toward what it was, what HR teams will find is that a new normal must now exist. Procedures that were once an afterthought, such as how the break room was cleaned, are now top of mind for everyone from entry level employees to the C-suite. Having the trust of your employees that the workplace is safe for them to return to is paramount to productivity.

And it isn’t just during a period of time when the virus subsides temporarily. The lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic is that even after a vaccine is developed, it will alter the way people view the cleanliness of public spaces and the amenities at their disposal for things such as washing their hands or cleansing shared surfaces, be it a meeting room table or door handles.

There is a lot more to consider than simply reassuring everyone that the facilities are clean and that the company is doing the best it can to assure everyone’s health. There are cultural aspects of day-to-day business to address as well as implications for the organization’s reputation to consider. As an article from the Society for Human Resource Management notes, job candidates interviewed in the future will ask how the company handled this situation and “about the organization’s business continuity plans, pandemic-specific plans and other coronavirus-oriented practices.”

HR departments have a significant challenge ahead, but not one they should shy away from or feel overwhelmed by.

“I think this is the beginning of the most exciting period we’ve ever been part of,” Eric Torigian, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Global HR for Akebono Brake Corporation USA told us on a recent episode of the HR Exchange Network podcast. “People are going to figure out how to pour their passion into it. The world has been getting ready for this for a while. We’ve been moving to an online world, a gig economy, toward remote work groups. In the next 20 or 30 years, this world is going to change a lot and people are going to come back to this time and ask ‘who were the people that made the difference?’ I think they’re going to look at HR people and say they’re the ones who led us through this.”

Leadership Considerations
To help you manage current and future employee expectations, here are 5 tips for managing your teams’ return to the workplace.

Get the Timing Right
The government telling everyone to get back to work isn’t likely to inspire faith in a lot of people given how things have been handled so far and the fact that social distancing has been as effective as it has. There are many people who would hesitate to return to a normal working environment in the near future and rushing them back early will likely undermine any good will accrued in facilitating remote work and establishing improved engagement practices during this period.

The first thing to consider is the situation in your local area. The number of new cases in the city and state will drive perception among your employees. Even if numbers are on the decline, a return may be seen as jumping the gun, particularly for large companies with bigger personnel footprints.

Once you decide to put things in motion, spend time discussing team needs with managers to determine which teams can remain remote and which ones are required to return. Then, assemble your operations staff and develop a plan to create safer physical spaces.

Finally, engage with your employees to find out how they’re feeling about a possible return to the office through surveys and town halls. Doing so and incorporating their concerns into your strategy will go a long way toward building the type of trust necessary to maintain a good reputation with your employees.

UPCOMING WEBINAR: The Power of Organizational Trust

Facilitate Social Distancing
Social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. This means restaurants will likely have to re-think seating arrangements, cleanliness practices and personal protective equipment and testing for staff before they can re-open. That may mean limiting the scale of business and changing the way people flow through the every part of the building.

Offices will have to consider whether desks spaces are separated enough to comply with social distancing standards and retail operations will need to continue limiting the flow of people into their stores for the time being.

How companies react and commit to this new normal is going to determine how well they maintain morale and what the reaction of returning workers to physical locations will be. For new hires, seeing a commitment to social distancing will reassure them that they’ve joined an organization which has their health and wellbeing top of mind.

Culture of Cleanliness
There is always a lot of talk about culture in HR, and in the wake of this pandemic, that is likely going to have to change as well. But as Torigian noted in our discussion, teaching people how to be responsible around each other and avoid the spread of the virus is a challenge for both organizations and society as a whole.

“That’s not just something that’s good for business, it’s something that is going to be required in the new world,” Torigian said. “We’ll learn how to do it and we’ll get really good at it.”

This means changing social norms. For example, banning handshakes in favor of greeting techniques that respect personal space and safety.

READ: Life After Coronavirus in HR

Beyond that, HR teams have to consider what mechanisms are in place to ensure cleanliness, such as handwashing stations and requirements for different roles. Which employees require personal protective equipment, for example, is a key consideration.

Additionally, using company resources to ensure safety will help employees feel the organization is doing everything in its power to prioritize their health and therefore, will be more dedicated to doing their part. Care packages with cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, tissues and other items they can use to stay safe is one small act that could go a long way toward inspiring confidence.

Career Transitions
Businesses are bound to operate differently from here on out and with that comes some new realities. People who have traditionally been in office may no longer be required to be there and some, unfortunately, will not be required at all. That, however, does not mean those people must be cut loose.

Now is an ideal time for companies to engage in career mapping exercises to better understand the capabilities and interests of their employees. There is already talk of mass efforts by some in government to retrain much of the workforce for positions that can be done remotely and for careers that offer different prospects going forward than what they’ve experienced in the past, but that is something that may be better led by HR professionals than government programs.

Invest in Employee Wellness
It may seem an invasion of privacy at first, but given the implications for your staff as a whole, monitoring on-site employees’ health and wellness is a matter of public safety. Some public health experts say that office buildings and public spaces such as bars and restaurants cannot be re-opened until there are testing methods that can be done quickly and accurately to determine if someone is carrying the virus.

We’re likely a ways off from that being a possibility for many businesses, but others are already putting measures in place to conduct temperature checks at entrances and getting creative as they find solutions for social distancing buzzers and one way routes through shared spaces so that people don’t cross paths or come face-to-face with one another.

As an article from Bloomberg noted recently: “The way we work, shop, travel and eat in 2020 – and probably beyond – is being plotted out in boardrooms around the world.”

Meanwhile, office spaces may have to be redesigned, moving away from the open floor plans that have been trending for several years and toward cubicles with high walls so that employees have more isolated spaces.

To get ahead of these issues, now is the time for organizations to begin discussing what their path forward is and consider how much risk they are willing to take on in bringing employees back to work. What improvements need to be made to sanitation procedures, ventilation systems and the structure of the workplace are all things that need to be evaluated.

Source : https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/hr-talent-management/articles/5-tips-for-building-trust-when-employees-return-to-work

Demystifying Disruption

In today’s turbulent world, most organizations face the prospect of continual disruption, sometimes called reinvention, transformation, agility, renewal, revitalization, repurposing, and so forth. Often disruption feels daunting because it requires massive change and replacing old routines with new unfamiliar patterns.

Having been involved through research and personal experience (for longer than I want to admit—decades) in organizations, leadership, and individual disruptions, and having a passion for simplicity, let me demystify disruption by distinguishing it into three phases with a few tips about each phase (in less than one thousand words) to hopefully make disruption more approachable.
A: Why (What’s So)?
1. Understand the context. When people understand the context that explains why things happen, they more readily accept what should be done and how it should be done. More simply, content (what and how) is king, but the context is the kingdom (why). Following this logic, disruption starts by understanding the context and impetuses for change. There are dozens of future-of-work presentations available that share trends that will disrupt business. For example, I like the work by Paolo Gallo, who has a wonderful summary of digital, social, and other trends. For organization, leadership, or personal disruption, answering why disruption matters by understanding context is important to define real change and sustainable change outcomes.

2. Focus outside-in. Most organization, leadership, or employee disruptions occur inside oneself or a business, but they are sustained when they have an impact on others outside like an organization’s customers and investors. This outside-in focus captures why disruption matters with the question: “Why will our/my disruption deliver value to those we/I serve?” I began my career starting “inside-out” (if we build it they will come); now I tend to start “outside-in” (anticipate and add value to external stakeholders). Both have to be done, as shown in figure 1. But an outside-in focus offers a sustainable why for disruption.

Understanding the context and focusing outside provide a rationale for why disruption matters. Combined, these agendas provide a clear description of “what’s so” as a baseline for disruption.


If the reason for disruption is clear and accepted (answering the why based on context and outside-in thinking), figuring out the outcomes of disruption (what or so what?) then becomes important. My colleagues and I have found that there are three generic outcomes of disruption, which can be sequenced as in figure 2.

3. Turnaround. Turnaround disruption means shedding costs and removing complexity. Disruption resulting in efficiency generally requires bold and decisive choices to manage all costs through activities like reengineering processes, simplifying products or services, managing labor productivity, and attending to capital investments. Turnaround disruption also comes from turning complexity into simplicity in mission, strategy, products, services, and governance.

4. Transform. Transformation disruption means creating new patterns for growth by establishing new organization capabilities or personal competencies that meet future needs. The organizational outcome is a new identity both in the marketplace and workplace. The leadership outcome of transformation disruption is a new set of skills that enable leaders to respond to new situations. Turnaround often precedes transformation, just like a field is cleared before planting new crops.

5. Assimilate. Assimilation disruption means embedding a new agenda throughout an organization through helping employees take personal ownership for it and creating shared commitment from all stakeholders. For leadership or personal transformation, new desired behaviors are sustained by creating new patterns. Employees internalize, claim, and own the disruption as “theirs,” not something done to them by their leaders.

Determining which type of outcome your disruption will accomplish will help you focus attention and resources. They tend to be sequential, so you can also build on one to the other.
C: How (Now What)?
Once the why (what’s so) and what (so what) of disruption are enacted, the challenge then becomes making the desired outcomes happen. The how (now what) of disruption requires attention to both the content of change (e.g., how to select the right actions that make change happen) and the process of change (e.g., how to build acceptance to the change).

6. Have a menu of levers for change. We have found that a host of levers exist for making disruption happen. These levers are governance mechanisms and organization practices that turn aspirations into actions. We have worked with many levers for change that can be seen as a menu of actions including structure, right culture, positive accountability, information, talent, work, and leadership. It is often difficult to know which menu items to start with. We have found that business and HR leaders can select from this menu of actions those that have the highest impact and are easiest to implement. This prioritization guides initial actions that can build on each other.

7. Manage the process of disruption. To gain buy-in and acceptance of disruption by those affected by it, it is important to attend to how disruption happens (or the process of disruption). This process includes knowing when and how to involve people, inspiring them, and starting simple.

These seven disruption tips demystify the why, what, and how of disruption (see figure). If you chunk disruption into phases with actions at each phase, then disruption is not overwhelming, but doable. This plan of approach may be applied to organization, leader, HR (or other function), and individual disruption. In applying these disruption tips, business leaders are ultimately the owners who take primary accountability and responsibility for making disruption happen; HR professionals are the architects who design and facilitate the process.

Source: https://www.hr.com/en/magazines/hr_strategy/april_2020_hr_strategy_planning/demystifying-disruption_k9bblubr.html

Can artificial intelligence help society as much as it helps business?

In 1953, US senators grilled General Motors CEO Charles “Engine Charlie” Wilson about his large GM shareholdings: Would they cloud his decision making if he became the US secretary of defense and the interests of General Motors and the United States diverged? Wilson said that he would always put US interests first but that he could not imagine such a divergence taking place, because, “for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.” Although Wilson was confirmed, his remarks raised eyebrows due to widespread skepticism about the alignment of corporate and societal interests.

The skepticism of the 1950s looks quaint when compared with today’s concerns about whether business leaders will harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and workplace automation to pad their own pockets and those of shareholders—not to mention hurting society by causing unemployment, infringing upon privacy, creating safety and security risks, or worse. But is it possible that what is good for society can also be good for business—and vice versa?

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To answer this question, we need a balanced perspective that’s informed by history. Technology has long had positive effects on well-being beyond GDP—for example, increasing leisure or improving health and longevity—but it can also have a negative impact, especially in the short term, if adoption heightens stress, inequality, or risk aversion because of fears about job security. A relatively new strand of welfare economics has sought to calculate the value of both the upside and the downside of technology adoption. This is not just a theoretical exercise. What if workers in the automation era fear the future so much that this changes their behavior as consumers and crimps spending? What if stress levels rise to such an extent as workers interface with new technologies that labor productivity suffers?

Technological social responsibility (TSR) amounts to a conscious alignment between short- and medium-term business goals and longer-term societal ones.

Building and expanding on existing theories of welfare economics, we simulated how technology adoption today could play out across the economy. The key finding is that two dimensions will be decisive—and in both cases, business has a central role to play (Exhibit 1). The first dimension is the extent to which firms adopt technologies with a view to accelerating innovation-led growth, compared with a narrower focus on labor substitution and cost reduction. The second is the extent to which technology adoption is accompanied by measures to actively manage the labor transitions that will accompany it—in particular, raising skill levels and ensuring a more fluid labor market.

Exhibit 1

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Both of these dimensions are in sync with our previous bottom-line-focused work on AI and automation adoption. In our research, digital leaders who reap the biggest benefits from technology adoption tend to be those who focus on new products or new markets and, as a result, are more likely to increase or stabilize their workforce than reduce it. At the same time, human capital is an essential element of their strategies, since having the talent able to implement and drive digital transformation is a prerequisite for successful execution. No wonder a growing number of companies, from Walmart to German software company SAP, are emphasizing in-house training programs to equip members of their workforce with the skills they will need for a more automated work environment. And both Amazon and Facebook have raised the minimum wage for their workers as a way to attract, retain, and reward talent.

TSR: Technological social responsibility
Given the potential for a win–win across business and society from a socially careful and innovation-driven adoption strategy, we believe the time has come for business leaders across sectors to embed a new imperative in their corporate strategy. We call this imperative technological social responsibility (TSR). It amounts to a conscious alignment between short- and medium-term business goals and longer-term societal ones.

Some of this may sound familiar. Like its cousin, corporate social responsibility, TSR embodies the lofty goal of enlightened self-interest. Yet the self-interest in this case goes beyond regulatory acceptance, consumer perception, or corporate image. By aligning business and societal interests along the twin axes of innovation focus and active transition management, we find that technology adoption can potentially increase productivity and economic growth in a powerful and measurable way.

In economic terms, innovation and transition management could, in a best-case scenario, double the potential growth in welfare—the sum of GDP and additional components of well-being, such as health, leisure, and equality—compared with an average scenario (Exhibit 2). The welfare growth to 2030 that emerges from this scenario could be even higher than the GDP and welfare gains we have seen in recent years from computers and early automation.

Exhibit 2

However, other scenarios that pay less heed to innovating or to managing disruptive transitions from tech adoption could slow income growth, increase inequality and unemployment risk, and lead to fewer improvements in leisure, health, and longevity. And that, in turn, would reduce the benefits to business.

At the company level, a workforce that is healthier, happier, better trained, and less stressed, will also be more productive, more adaptable, and better able to drive the technology adoption and innovation surge that will boost revenue and earnings. At the broader level, a society whose overall welfare is improving, and faster than GDP, is a more resilient society better able to handle sometimes painful transitions. In this spirit, New Zealand recently announced that it will shift its economic policy focus from GDP to broader societal well-being.

Leadership imperatives
For business leaders, three priorities will be essential. First, they will need to understand and be convinced of the argument that proactive management of technology transitions is not only in the interest of society at large but also in the more narrowly focused financial interest of companies themselves. Our research is just a starting point, and more work will be needed, including to show how and where individual sectors and companies can benefit from adopting a proactive strategy. Work is already underway at international bodies such as the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to measure welfare effects across countries.

Second, digital reinvention plans will need to have, at their core, a thoughtful and proactive workforce-management strategy. Talent is a key differentiating factor, and there is much talk about the need for training, retraining, and nurturing individuals with the skills needed to implement and operate updated business processes and equipment. But so far, “reskilling” remains an afterthought in many companies. That is shortsighted; our work on digital transformation continues to emphasize the importance of having the right people in the right places as machines increasingly complement humans in the workforce. From that perspective alone, active management of training and workforce mobility will be an essential task for boards in the future.

The successful adoption of AI and other advanced technologies will require cooperation from multiple stakeholders, especially business leaders and the public sector.

Third, CEOs must embrace new, farsighted partnerships for social good. The successful adoption of AI and other advanced technologies will require cooperation from multiple stakeholders, especially business leaders and the public sector. One example involves education and skills: business leaders can help inform education providers with a clearer sense of the skills that will be needed in the workplace of the future, even as they look to raise the specific skills of their own workforce. IBM, for one, is partnering with vocational schools to shape curricula and build a pipeline of future “new collar” workers—individuals with job profiles at the nexus of professional and trade work, combining technical skills with a higher educational background. AT&T has partnered with more than 30 universities and multiple online education platforms to enable employees to earn the credentials needed for new digital roles.

Other critical public-sector actions include supporting R&D and innovation; creating markets for public goods, such as healthcare, so that there is a business incentive to serve these markets; and collaborating with businesses on reskilling, helping them to match workers with the skills they need and with the digital-era jobs to which they could most easily transition. A more fluid labor market and better job matching will benefit companies and governments, accelerating the search for talent for the former and reducing the potential transition costs for the latter.

There are many aspects to TSR, and we are just starting to map out some of the most important ones. But as an idea and an imperative, the time has come for technological social responsibility to make a forceful entry into the consciousness and strategies of business leaders everywhere.

Source : https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-analytics/our-insights/can-artificial-intelligence-help-society-as-much-as-it-helps-business

How to Be Agile Through a Volatile Reopening

Plans for an economic reopening are now in the spotlight, but this does not mean businesses will be returning to normal operations anytime soon.

A sharp, V-shaped recovery is not what most economic commentators are predicting. Until a vaccine is found and broadly distributed, social distancing rules will be in flux, supply chains will be vulnerable to disruption, and buying patterns will be unpredictable.

For employers, this means they are entering a situation where they will continually need to reassess who they need, where, and for how long. The planning and headcount tracking processes that run on annual cycles and require weeks just to establish baseline data from the HRIS will not be good enough to handle this situation.

If it takes 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine, as experts expect, this volatile situation is here to stay for the foreseeable future. But with an agile framework for decision-making that is guided by real-time data, organizations can manage the ebb and flow in talent demand and become more resilient with the right people and skills. Here are three ways that the right people data approach can help organizations remain agile in the face of uncertainty:

1. Managing fluctuations in talent demand
Businesses won’t be able to instantly start at 100% capacity, even in places where social distancing measures have been eased. According to Gallup, just 20 percent of Americans would return to normal activities immediately. Manufacturers will be wary of burning through cash to make products that don’t sell, and movie theater operators will not want to play films to empty cinemas.

Not only will the cycling up of economic activity be varied, it won’t happen in a straight line. Businesses need to be prepared to scale back on a moment’s notice when the virus surges again. This is where scenario modeling is key.

You cannot just make one plan, you need to cover the three core perspectives; slow growth, medium growth, and rapid growth. Each business needs to use the available external data, as well as patterns from past economic recoveries, to inform and guide these scenarios. However, human judgement will still be a key factor–we have not had to recover from a pandemic for over 100 years.

How organizations match people to fluctuating demands is not just going to be a strategic challenge–it’s also going to be a weekly and day-to-day challenge. Leaders and managers need the ability to make a decision about staffing, see the effect with data, and then make a new decision. Plans will be constantly disrupted through change in employee behavior either through absence, resistance to certain working conditions, and turnover.

It will be imperative to have a people analytics capability that can support advanced planning and handle immediate priorities. Analytics programs that rely on pre-built, fixed dashboards will fail. They were made to answer the questions that were relevant before the pandemic–not those questions that are now in play. Taking weeks or months to build a new set of dashboards is going to be slow, hard to maintain, and expensive.

The right analytics capability will combine data from multiple people and operational systems so that headcount, people costs, and overall productivity can be analyzed in one place, by many people, in real time.

In the Finance sector, for example, we are seeing leaders use agile analytics capabilities to move people from processing claims to selling new policies. They can move people back and forth based on weekly–even daily–demand.

To drive agile workforce decisions, information needs to be securely shared around the organization to multiple different work groups and people managers. Responding effectively to this next economic phase cannot be done with a few experts in a room producing powerpoints. The organizations that navigate successfully will have the technology and the process to securely share their people and productivity data deeply within their organization.

This graphic shows the projected headcount trend by location
This analysis shows the projected headcount trend by location. Fictional data used.
2. Boosting business resilience
Through this crisis, we are seeing that the most resilient organizations are those with a highly digital business model. For example, Amazon is going through a hiring boom right now.

This is increasing the urgency behind digital transformation efforts. Delayed decisions and uncertain progress have already left organizations behind their competitors. This means organizations will need to quickly answer pressing talent questions that are essential to transformation: Who are the real experts within our organization who can deliver on this vision? How can we form and reform teams to drive results in a more agile way?

Another pressing question is: How hard is it to get the people and capabilities we need?

For example, your new business vision may require experience designers and next-gen machine-learning capabilities–but this kind of talent was in short supply before the pandemic hit, and nothing about the pandemic has reduced the demand levels for people with these talents.

A solid strategy for how you will buy, build, rent or bot the capabilities you need to be successful is paramount. By helping you immediately quantify how many people you need, where and at what cost, the right analytics platform can help you establish how to support your new business model from a talent perspective.

This graphic shows the trendlines of projected revenue by projected units produced
This analysis shows the trendlines of projected revenue by projected units produced in a reduction in force scenario. Fictional data used.
3. Retaining critical talent
It can be tempting to assume that everyone is holding on to their job for dear life right now, particularly when unemployment has hit such an overwhelming high. Visier’s benchmarking data, calculated for the week ending April 12th 2020, shows that the resignation rate for that week was 60% lower than the same week in 2019.

But this doesn’t mean leaders should assume that retention is no longer an important area of focus. Even in the toughest of times, people with in-demand skills always have opportunities. During the dot com bust, for example, there were large numbers of job losses, but also a significant number of people changing jobs.

This is where your initial response to the crisis will either pay you dividends or deepen your pain. If the organization is laying people off, employees—in particular top performers—may be triggered by their sense of business instability and more of them will look for a new employer.

As reported in this Time article from the great recession, people have a tendency to react to their laid-off colleagues’ feelings of gloom and desperation. They either stay and reduce their contribution to the business–or they leave.

There is a way to mitigate the impacts stemming from this well-documented phenomenon, known as “survivor syndrome.” The key is to ensure there is authentic communication to critical groups about how the business is going to be successful going forward.

Good people will stay if they think leadership is competent and if they see a role for themselves that will move their career in the direction that they want. These are the people who will make a difference to your business. They will help you weather the crisis, and more importantly, re-energize your business through the recovery phase.

Fact-based answers is key to survival
If you have enhanced your people analytics capabilities during this crisis, you can build agile plans and increase the scope of decision-making. You will then be in the best position to build the future success of your business around the core group of people who differentiate your results.

Even once the pandemic has passed, businesses will be operating in a permanently altered environment. You can empower leaders with data to support an agile people strategy to always stay ahead. This way, you can position the business for the best future possible.

Source : https://www.visier.com/clarity/how-to-be-agile-through-a-volatile-reopening/

What leadership means in testing times

The greatest challenge is uncertainty about how Covid-19 will develop and its impact.

The situation was, and is, developing rapidly and we need to manage that uncertainty for our people.

We are doing that by stepping up our communications and engagement, sharing what actions have been taken and what ongoing preparations are being made.

We are all altering our way of working and in addition to those caring for children, there are others who care for relatives. ACCA (Association Chartered Certified Accountants) is offering complete flexibility to its people so they can work from home in the best way.

This includes working outside normal working hours and at weekends or using annual leave at short notice and as flexibly as required so everyone can find creative solutions.

We’ve also reassured everyone that life is going on around us for those who are working from home and that’s ok. Hearing children in the background or in the shot of a video call is becoming the norm and that is not something to worry about.

Equally, we do appreciate that working from home and dealing with caring responsibilities can take its toll. Therefore, we’re encouraging people to really consider their wellbeing.

Our key message is that the health, safety and wellbeing of our people, members, students and partners is our overriding concern and will guide our actions.

We’re also ensuring everyone can see that we’re making well thought through but quick decisions in this ever-changing situation.

As far as possible, we are aiming to have consistency in the approach that we take globally. We are also consistent in listening to and following government advice in each of the countries we work in, albeit advice from each government may be different.

However, it is reassuring for people to know that we’re taking that approach and that we’re very closely listening to our people, our customers and our partners.

Generally, we are adapting well working from home. ACCA has had people working from home in parts of the world since January and we are sharing what’s been learned using their advice to help others.

They have especially talked about the importance of maintaining connections in a period where people are spending a significant amount of time on their own. Leaders are taking the time to check in with their people to keep in touch.

Equally, teams and individuals are creating their own ways to stay connected to each other. We are also using our internal intranet to contribute advice on wellbeing and to share creative solutions from around the world.

We are recommending that all our employees follow a few simple guidelines:

Separate work from home life. This may include agreeing boundaries with your household and closing the laptop at the end of the working day.
Make a working space. This guidance is as much about health and safety as it is about wellbeing and feeling like there is some way to leave work when your day is done.
Talk to your manager about priorities and deliverables. There is no doubt that priorities are likely to change and it’s important that we discuss these so as not to add additional pressure in these changing times.
Don’t be a stranger. Think about maintaining connections. Use video calls and think about virtual ways to replace valuable interaction that we have with others at work.
Make some time for health and fitness. Take breaks, stay active and build this into your daily routine where possible.
For me, good leadership is characterised by clarity, empowering teams to make decisions, and last, but not least visible leadership.

ACCA just held a Global Virtual Conference where we talked about our response to the crisis by holding an open virtual Q&A with the executive team to discuss our plans for the future.

Source : https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/what-leadership-means-in-testing-times

Reinventing Your Career in the Time of Coronavirus

Unexpected events or shocks disrupt our habitual routines, jolt us out of our comfort zones, and lead us to ask big questions about what matters and what is worth doing. It’s no wonder, then, that during the current pandemic, many people are rethinking their careers.

But is this really the right time? Even for those of us lucky enough not be sick, caring for others who are sick, or scrambling to make ends meet, the pandemic has increased uncertainty and caught us unprepared — psychologically, financially, and infrastructurally. The situation feels threatening. And, as psychologists have shown, threatening situations prompt us to behave conservatively — the opposite of what is required when we’re considering a career change. It’s hard to dive wholeheartedly into reinventing your career if you’re feeling risk-averse or are worried about your prospects.

So how do we balance the pressing need to ensure basic survival — of our families and firms — with what may well be a growing urge to do something new after this crisis has subsided?

I’ve been studying career change for the past two decades, a period that has spanned the dot-com boom and bust, the 2008 financial crisis, the subsequent extended bull-market run, and now the pandemic that has brought that run to an end. That experience has taught me that a few simple principles can help those living through hard times continue to focus on reinventing their careers.

Develop many possible selves
When you don’t know what the future will bring, or when the path you thought you were on takes an unexpected turn, it makes sense to pursue a diverse portfolio of options rather than just sticking single-mindedly to one. Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process. It’s a necessarily messy journey of exploration — and to do it right, you have to experiment with, test, and learn about a range of possible selves.

Possible selves are the ideas we all have about who we might want to become. Some are concrete and well-informed by experience; others are vague and fuzzy, nascent and untested. Some are realistic; others are pure fantasy. And, naturally, some appeal more to us than others.

Today, more than ever, the path to your next career will be circuitous. To cover all of the ground you’ll need to cover, it’s vital to let yourself imagine a divergent set of possible selves and futures. Embrace that process and explore as many of them as you can.

Embrace the “liminal” period
The hallmark of the career-change process is the emotional experience of “liminality” — that is, of existing betwixt and between a past that is clearly gone and a future that is still uncertain. Liminality can be an unpleasant state to inhabit emotionally. People going through it feel unmoored, lose their bearings, and oscillate between “holding on” and “letting go.” But this fraught stage is a necessary part of the journey, because it allows you to process a lot of complex emotions and conflicting desires, and ultimately prevents you from shutting down prematurely and missing better options that still lie ahead.

The current crisis is likely to prolong this in-between state for many of us. While frustrating at times, the state has its benefits. As Bill Bridges has written in Transitions, “We need not feel defensive about this apparently unproductive time-out at turning points in our lives … In the apparently aimless activity of our time alone, we are doing important inner business.”

Neurological studies suggest that taking advantage of liminal time to do that “inner business” may be more beneficial than engaging in a flurry of busy-making self-improvement efforts. Downtime is crucial not only for replenishing the brain’s stores of attention and motivation but also for sustaining the cognitive processes that allow us to fully develop our humanity. It’s how we consolidate memories, integrate what we have learned, plan for the future, maintain our moral compass, and construct our sense of ourselves.

Get going on projects
The most common path to a career reinvention involves doing something on the side — cultivating knowledge, skills, resources, and relationships until you’ve got strong new legs to walk on in exploring a new career. On nights and weekends, people take part-time courses, do pro-bono or advisory work, and develop start-up ideas. In the research I did for my book Working Identity, which is devoted to the subject of career reinvention, I found that most people work on several possibilities at once, comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of each. This activity is crucial. It helps you work through not only the practical questions but also the existential ones that drive career change: Who am I? Who do I want to become? Where can I best contribute? We learn who we want to become by testing fantasy and reality, and, of course, by doing.

Our current conditions of quarantine and lockdown limit the possibilities, of course. People have long used contract or advisory work to explore new options or to finance new ventures, for example, but non-essential budgets are now drying up, and as a result many people are finding these avenues obstructed.

Nevertheless, under the present circumstances many people are finding it easier than before to reallocate time and resources to back-burner projects. Many people are already taking advantage of the moment. As part of a webinar I teach on career reinvention, I recently conducted an online poll asking participants to describe how they’re responding to the coronavirus crisis, and 50% of the 2000 people who responded reported that it has given them “opportunities to try new things or learn new skills.” In some cases, these new skills are directly related to working remotely. That’s certainly been the case for me: Like most of my faculty colleagues, I’ve had to quickly learn to teach online.

You don’t need to limit our projects to the domain of your desired career change. Many people today are doing rewarding work and making surprising discoveries by engaging in crisis initiatives at their organizations or in community volunteer efforts. The point is to do new and different work with new and different people, because that process represents an opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences and dislikes, and the kinds of contexts and people that bring out the best in you.

Work your “dormant” ties
Networking is a contact sport, which makes it hard to play in a lockdown. Many people today are wondering how in the current environment they can initiate and build the relationships they need to reinvent themselves — relationships with people who may be struggling to adapt to difficult circumstances themselves.

The golden rule of networking for career change has always been to mobilize your weak ties — that is, the relationships you have with people you don’t know so well or don’t see very often, in order to maximize your chances of learning things you don’t know already. The problem with friends, family, and close coworkers — your strong ties — is that they know the same things you know. They’ll want to help you, of course, but they’re unlikely to be able to help you think creatively about your future. It’s more likely that they’ll pigeonhole you.

But there’s a catch when it comes to your weak ties. Although these people are more likely to be a source of useful new information and resources, they’re also likely to be less motivated to help you, especially when they’re stretched themselves. For this reason, in times of uncertainty people rely more on their strong ties, which are based on commitment, trust, and obligation.

So we have a weak tie/strong tie conundrum. One way around it is to make use of your “dormant ties” — the relationships with people who you were once close to but now haven’t been in contact with for roughly three years or more. In one study, more than 200 executives were asked to reconnect with such people and to use their interactions to get information or advice that might help them on an important work project. The executives reported that the advice they received from these dormant sources was on average more valuable and novel than what they obtained from their more-active relationships.

Talk it out
In the middle of the confusion that career change can bring, many of us hope that introspection will eventually produce a flash of blinding insight. But as I learned in my Working Identity research, solitary introspection, when not coupled with active experimentation, is dangerous, because it can lead us to get stuck in the realm of daydreams — which, of course, provide neither gainful employment nor career fulfilment.

Self-reflection, paradoxically, is a practice best nourished by talking out loud in social exchanges with kindred spirits who respond, sympathize, commiserate, question, read your body language, and share their own experiences. One of the reasons potential career changers benefit so much from attending courses is that their fellow students represent a ready-made community of kindred spirits to talk to. Just the simple act of creating and telling a story about what you want to do, or why you want a change, can clarify your thinking and propel you forward, by committing you publicly to making a change. Any veteran storyteller will tell you that there’s no substitute for practicing in front of a live audience.

But even that is hard in the current context of self-isolation and social distancing. Still, with a bit of initiative and creativity, you can find ways to explain yourself out loud — by scheduling walks that respect social distance, by working with a career coach online, by creating a Zoom group that meets regularly to share plans.

In the end, when it comes to reinventing your career in this time of crisis, remember this important point: The time to get going is now — but don’t go it alone.

Source : https://hbr.org/2020/04/reinventing-your-career-in-the-time-of-coronavirus

Make the Right Personnel Decisions Now to Thrive After the Crisis

Senior executives are now rightly worried about what the crisis and subsequent downturn mean. While the concern is understandable, leaders must remember that downturns can be a great time to grow. The challenge, therefore, is not just to get through this period but to survive it in such a way that you can reset in order to thrive. That depends on decisions you have to take now — and many of the right ones may not be the obvious ones.

To be sure, you’ll have to do the basics, which are mostly about making sure you have enough cash on hand to stay in business. The playbooks for that don’t need rehearsing here. But pretty quickly, you’re going to have start making decisions about your people — and that’s when things really get strategic. Your people decisions will fall into four categories:

1. Repurposing
Your first step (once you’re sure you can actually stay afloat) should be to look at which parts of the business (plants, lines, people) are paused right now that you could quickly repurpose. Why is this strategic? Simple: thinking about what else your people can do in a crisis opens your eyes to possible strategic adjacencies and partnerships for after the crisis.

Start by thinking about what your country or community might need to help them get through the crisis. In the U.K., Formula One teams are switching plants to making ventilators. In France, perfume giant LVMH is re-purposing to making hand sanitizer. In the US, Tito’s vodka is repurposing to making hand sanitizer and giving it away for free. Companies with home sewing networks are turning them to making masks.

Repurposing can also take the form of borrowing and lending your people. If you run a chain of retail stores that has been forced to close shops, can your employees be sent to work temporarily in another company? One fast fashion retailer in the U.K. is allocating 5,000 employees they would otherwise have to have furloughed to a grocery store. Do you have delivery drivers who used to deliver supplies to restaurants who could instead deliver similar products for other companies to shared kitchens or homes? Ask yourself if you should be on the sending or receiving end of employee borrowing, and if so, with whom?

2. Engagement
No prizes for guessing why this is strategically important. Part of getting through the survive phase is bringing your employees along with you and ensuring there is clear, consistent communication and frequent check-ins. This communication should be for wellbeing and updates, not micromanagement (not everyone can work an eight-hour day while home-schooling elementary children).

How this is managed depends on the state your business is in right now: constant and frantic (food delivery, grocery, collaboration software); paused and possibly panicky (leisure and hospitality); or significantly slowed down but otherwise functioning (many industries right now). If you have a mix of these situations, make sure your communications are consistent, but also tailored to each group.

I advise nominating one person to “own” the employee pulse during the next three to six months — employee engagement and well-being needs to be in one person’s hands. In larger companies, there should be someone for each business unit. Preferably that person should not be the CEO, for whom it will likely become just one more thing on the list that will get skipped. The company cannot afford for that to happen right now. And do not default to your head of HR. Look for someone that people feel can empathize with them and who has credibility.

As CEO, check in daily or twice weekly check with your pulse owner get a sense of how the employees are doing, address any issues escalated to you, and make sure that people know exactly how you’ve acted on them. Above all, remember that communicating in bland generalities about change and uncertainty only scares people and erodes your credibility to lead through the crisis.

3. Learning, learning, learning.
Now is not the time to flatten the learning curve — the winners will be those that steepen the learning curve this year. Learning is something too often skipped during the survive phase, but will set apart those that will thrive.

For workers not engaged in business-critical operations and not furloughed, you should encourage cross-department learning. The sales team should still be communicating with customers and selling, but as they are no longer traveling, they should also have a few more hours a week than usual. Can they spend this time with customer service people to better understand your ideal customer profiles or help build a customer program? Make a list of learning needs departments have been requesting and use this time to address them.

As you do this, push people to go beyond the basics by asking them to think how each aspect of your company’s value chain will be challenged now and going forward. Not doing this signals that you assume everything will switch back to January 2020 when we can return to work, which no one believes. Again, no prizes for guessing the strategic importance of this.

4. Letting people go
Yes, you will likely have to do this in the coming months, with pressure growing as lockdowns and other severe measures get extended. Layoffs are hard and emotionally trying, but facing up to them is part of your job as a leader. Protecting your balance sheet and staying in business must be your overriding concern. If doing so entails making layoffs, it is your duty to do so — if you do not, you put the company’s financial viability at risk and everybody working for you could be without a job.

Make sure you really understand unit economics before you lay anyone off. Evaluate by solution, market, or customer segment to decide what to stop, pause and slow given current demand — and let those decisions determine if and where you should be making cuts

If you do need to make layoffs, do them at once and early. You need to be in a position to reassure your remaining employees that the cut was the only one you foresee now. Working for a company with multiple rounds of layoffs is demoralizing and painful and will only bleed the employees you want to keep. This is a terrible time to let workers go, so if it must be done, be as humane and generous as possible.

You cannot always protect jobs, but you can protect people, who are, after all, often your most strategic asset. Review your country’s current response mechanism, as many offer significant payments of employee wages if no layoffs happen. Re-review your repurposing or borrowing options. If this is not enough, your first options should be contract workers or agencies, employees nearing retirement, or those who may be more ready to take an early exit. Furlough if necessary, with the best benefits you can provide, and provide exceptional references that can take into the next opportunity.

This is a time people will long remember, and reputations will be won and lost. When your leadership is considered, you will be remembered just as much for how you make, communicate, and act on these choices as for the choices themselves. Be honest, be open, have the courage to reset your business and you will not just survive, but thrive.

Source : https://hbr.org/2020/04/make-the-right-personnel-decisions-now-to-thrive-after-the-crisis?ab=hero-subleft-2

The Future Of The Workplace In 1-5-10 Years

While the introduction of mobile technology and cloud-based solutions have certainly helped make the idea of working anytime, anywhere a reality, the mix of Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and now, Gen-Z, creates a complicated dynamic of working styles and productivity drivers that are hard to ignore.

As work becomes less of a place you go, and more of a task you perform, employees expect to be able to work whenever they want, wherever they want. But are businesses truly ready to evolve the traditional 9-to-5 desk job to meet the needs and expectations of employees?

In the next year, businesses will need to strike a balance between empowering employees to work virtual through advanced technology solutions and retaining a workplace environment that allows their employees to work onsite in the office; maintaining company culture and productivity.
Five Years: Understanding and Satisfying the Expectations of Gen Z
They’re coming! The first wave of Gen Z employees started infiltrating workforces in 2019 and they’re very different from their millennial counterparts. They’ve grown up with cutting-edge technology and are a hyper connected, collaborative cohort that is accustomed to learning and working in groups.

So, will organizations be ready to meet the needs of these digital natives? They’d better be. Gen Z employees want to focus their skills at companies that provide the flexibility and freedom to be entrepreneurial through personalized roles. What’s more, they see the tech industry as the sweet spot to pursue these career goals.

Providing intuitive technology and solutions is just one piece of the puzzle for organizations looking to attract this next wave of talent. In the next five years, organizations will need to challenge the hierarchical power dynamic between employees and employers, and provide Gen Z employees with career paths that develop and bolster their skills in new and exciting ways.
Ten Years: People and Technology Form the Fabric of the Organization
In 10 years, the workplace will be completely redefined as what we call the fourth industrial revolution has fully taken hold. Technology and IT solutions will more seamlessly support and offload and workplace tasks, and this in turn will reshape the responsibilities and roles of employers and employees. A recent workplace study by McKinsey reported that 60 percent of jobs will be transformed through the automation of a component tasks by 2030.
While that may sound like a scary prospect for some, the experts don’t expect machines to fully replace us any time soon. Over the next decade, workers and organizations will adapt as machines take over mundane tasks, and new work opportunities will emerge, involving qualities and skills that are fundamentally human.

Employers — specifically the C-Suite — can expect IT to hold an integral role among all functions of the organization. Information and technology will be the invisible threads that drive and connect everything.

Ten years out, organizations that successfully achieve digital workplace transformations will be at an advantage over businesses struggling with legacy systems, massive amounts of data and workforces unprepared for change. Some companies will run the race quicker than others, which could widen the gulf between businesses that are future-ready and able to benefit from emerging technologies, and those that are not. But one thing is for certain: the steps organizations take today — including modernizing infrastructure, inspiring employees, and deploying next-generation technologies — will lay the groundwork for their digital-future and help to bring to fruition the next wave of human led, technology-underpinned progress.

Source: https://www.hr.com/en/magazines/hr_strategy/april_2020_hr_strategy_planning/the-future-of-the-workplace-in-1-5-10-years_k9bb2gxc.html

What Do Countries With The Best Coronavirus Responses Have In Common? Women Leaders

Looking for examples of true leadership in a crisis? From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for our human family. Add in Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and this pandemic is revealing that women have what it takes when the heat rises in our Houses of State. Many will say these are small countries, or islands, or other exceptions. But Germany is large and leading, and the U.K. is an island with very different outcomes. These leaders are gifting us an attractive alternative way of wielding power. What are they teaching us?

Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, stood up early and calmly told her countrymen that this was a serious bug that would infect up to 70% of the population. “It’s serious,” she said, “take it seriously.” She did, so they did too. Testing began right from the get-go. Germany jumped right over the phases of denial, anger and disingenuousness we’ve seen elsewhere. The country’s numbers are far below its European neighbors, and there are signs it may be able to start loosening restrictions relatively soon.


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Among the first and the fastest responses was from Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan. Back in January, at the first sign of a new illness, she introduced 124 measures to block the spread without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere. She is now sending 10 million face masks to the U.S. and Europe. Tsai managed what CNN has called “among the world’s best” responses, keeping the epidemic under control, still reporting only six deaths.

Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand was early to lockdown and crystal clear on the maximum level of alert she was putting the country under—and why. She imposed self-isolation on people entering New Zealand astonishingly early, when there were just 6 cases in the whole country, and banned foreigners entirely from entering soon after. Clarity and decisiveness are saving New Zealand from the storm. As of mid-April they have suffered only four deaths, and where other countries talk of lifting restrictions, Ardern is adding to them, making all returning New Zealanders quarantine in designated locations for 14 days.


Iceland, under the leadership of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens, and will become a key case study in the true spread and fatality rates of COVID-19. Most countries have limited testing to people with active symptoms. Iceland is going whole hog. In proportion to its population the country has already screened five times as many people as South Korea has, and instituted a thorough tracking system that means they haven’t had to lock down or shut schools.

Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest head of state when she was elected last December in Finland. It took a millennial leader to spearhead using social media influencers as key agents in battling the coronavirus crisis. Recognizing that not everyone reads the press, they are inviting influencers of any age to spread fact-based information on managing the pandemic.

Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to her country’s children. She was building on the short, three-minute press conference that Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had held a couple of days earlier. Solberg held a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared. The originality and obviousness of the idea takes one’s breath away. How many other simple, humane innovations would more female leadership unleash?

Generally, the empathy and care which all of these female leaders have communicated seems to come from an alternate universe than the one we have gotten used to. It’s like their arms are coming out of their videos to hold you close in a heart-felt and loving embrace. Who knew leaders could sound like this? Now we do.

Now, compare these leaders and stories with the strongmen using the crisis to accelerate a terrifying trifecta of authoritarianism: blame-“others,” capture-the-judiciary, demonize-the-journalists, and blanket their country in I-will-never-retire darkness (Trump, Bolsonaro, López Obrador, Modi, Duterte, Orban, Putin, Netanyahu…).

There have been years of research timidly suggesting that women’s leadership styles might be different and beneficial. Instead, too many political organizations and companies are still working to get women to behave more like men if they want to lead or succeed. Yet these national leaders are case study sightings of the seven leadership traits men may want to learn from women.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2020/04/13/what-do-countries-with-the-best-coronavirus-reponses-have-in-common-women-leaders/#93644653dec4

Purpose: Shifting from why to how

Only 7 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs believe their companies should “mainly
focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals.”1
And with
good reason. While shareholder capitalism has catalyzed enormous progress,
it also has struggled to address deeply vexing issues such as climate change
and income inequality—or, looking forward, the employment implications of
artificial intelligence.
But where do we go from here? How do we deliver a sense of purpose across
a wide range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities? Doing
so means moving from business as usual to a less traveled path that may feel
like “painting outside the lines.” Are we going too far beyond our core mandate?
Does it mean we’ll lose focus on bottom-line results? Will transparency expose
painful tensions better left unexamined? Will our boards, management teams,
employees, and stakeholders want to follow us, or will they think we have “lost
the plot”? There are no easy answers to these questions; corporate engagement
is messy, and pitfalls, including criticism from skeptical stakeholders, abound.
Yet when companies fully leverage their scale to benefit society, the impact can
be extraordinary. The power of purpose is evident as the world fights the urgent
threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of companies doubling down
on their purpose, at the very time stakeholders need it the most (for more, see
“Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus,” on
Business also has an opportunity, and an obligation, to engage on the urgent
needs of our planet, where waiting for governments and nongovernmental
organizations to act on their own through traditional means such as regulation
and community engagement carries risk.
What is your company’s core reason for being,
and where can you have a unique, positive
impact on society? Now more than ever, you need
good answers to these questions.
1 Alan Murray, “The 2019 Fortune 500 CEO survey results are in,” Fortune, May 16, 2019, fortune.com.
Purpose: Shifting
from why to how
April 2020
Fortunately, a “how to” playbook is starting to
emerge as a growing number of companies
lead. In this article, we try to distill some inspiring
steps taken by forward-looking companies.
In doing so, we don’t pretend to have all the
answers. What we present here is some early
thinking about the road ahead from our research
and engagement with clients around the world.
We hope this will help you wherever you are on
your journey.
Confronting the purpose gap
The August 2019 Business Roundtable Statement,
which elevated stakeholder interests to the
same level as shareholders’ interests, represents
both a reappraisal of purpose and a reflection
of tensions that have been boiling over. Customers
are boycotting the products of companies
whose values they view as contrary to their own.
Investors are migrating to ESG funds. And the
majority of employees in the corporate world feel
“disengaged”; they are agitating for decisions
and behaviors that they can be proud to stand
behind and gravitating toward companies that
have a clear, unequivocal, and positive impact
on the world.
Organizations turning a blind eye will face inevitable blowback. In just the past year, companies have witnessed hundreds of thousands of
employees walking out over climate issues and
recurrent high-profile petitions about business
practices that have raised the ire of socially
conscious interest groups. Digital platforms are
powerful amplifiers. As historian Niall Ferguson
warns in a recent McKinsey Quarterly interview,
“If your company has not been on the receiving
end of a Twitter storm, then don’t worry, it soon
will be.”2
Despite all this, the potential is extraordinary
for business to serve as a force for good.

remain a powerful lever. We also see burgeoning opportunities for businesses to
contribute that extend beyond traditional CSR—such as deploying digital tools
and advanced analytics to address global challenges, as well as mobilizing diverse
ecosystems of players to pursue goals that no individual business (or government)
could realize on its own. To take just one example, apparel giants such as H&M, Kering,
Nike, and PVH have joined forces to create Global Fashion Agenda, a not-for-profit
organization that promotes sustainable fashion, from the efficient use of resources and
secure work environments to closed-loop recycling. Often, though, these opportunities
feel tangential. Many executives tell us they feel their own companies do great CSR work
but wish those efforts could extend into the core, adding meaning to the day-to-day
experience of their employees and themselves.
We’d suggest that the disconnects between public perceptions of business and its
potential for good, or between employees’ desire for meaning at work versus what they
experience, reflect a purpose gap. In a recent McKinsey survey comprising a representative sample of more than 1,000 participants from US companies, 82 percent affirmed
the importance of purpose, but only 42 percent reported that their company’s stated
“purpose” had much effect (exhibit). That shouldn’t be surprising. Many companies’ purpose
statements are so generic that they do little to challenge business as usual, and
others don’t emphasize the concerns of employees. Contributing to society and creating
meaningful work, the top two priorities of employees in our survey, are the focus of
just 21 percent and 11 percent of purpose statements, respectively.
We’d further suggest that there is a frustratingly simple reason why business leaders
have struggled to square all these circles with coherent statements and credible
actions: it’s difficult to solve, simultaneously, for the interests of employees, communities,
suppliers, the environment, customers, and shareholders. Tensions and trade-offs
QPrint 2020
Exhibit 1 of 1
… it is important to
have a purpose
… purpose should
receive more weight
than pro t
… their organizations have
a purpose statement
… their organizations’
purpose statements
drive impact¹
Respondents reporting that …
Employees feel that purpose is important—but many say their companies don’t
have one, let alone one that makes a dierence.
Note: segments displayed in gray reect respondents who were neutral, disagreed, or strongly disagreed.
82% 72% 62% 42%
Impact score, which is based on subset of respondents reporting presence of organizational purpose, derived on basis of
responses to questions about achievements of purpose and positive change associated with purpose.
Source: McKinsey Organizational Purpose Survey of 1,214 managers and frontline employees at US companies, October 2019
Purpose defines our core reason for being
and the positive impact we have on the
world. It shapes our strategy, inspires our
people, engages our customers and
community, steers choices at moments of
truth, and is fully embedded in our culture. Living purpose authentically should
feel uncomfortable and new. It may
mean surfacing fresh questions in meetings,
engaging in difficult conversations about
some of our businesses, and reevaluating
our partners based on a clear-eyed view
of their practices.
Whether we are reappraising an existing
purpose or designing one for the first time,
we need to wrestle with challenging
questions such as the ones below. These
questions can help test whether we are
acting with the necessary authenticity and
boldness. In exploring such questions,
some companies we know have found it
helpful to use the accompanying framework to help them assess how far they’ve
gone and how much room there is left
to run.
• What is our purpose as a company and how
does it link with our “superpower”—our
capacity to make a distinctive contribution
to the world?
• Who benefits from our success, and what
are our responsibilities—to shareholders,
yes, but also to our workforce, suppliers,
ecosystem participants, communities, and
the environment in which we operate?
Proof points
• Declaring a purpose statement that is clear
enough to help middle management make
trade-offs in daily decisions, and credible in
the eyes of stakeholders
• Defining specific, short-term (for example,
“2021”) impact goals
• When trade-offs arise, how should various
stakeholder interests be balanced and
reconciled? Who needs to be involved, and
how will we make decisions?
• How willing are we to change our philosophy
and economic model to reflect our
purpose and enhance our social and
environmental impact?
Proof points
• Incorporating purpose screens and criteria
into budget and investment decisions
• Changing governance and sources of
capital (such as becoming a public-benefit
• Sticking to bold purpose goals during times
of economic turbulence
• What is our heritage? Why have we
been successful in the past? How does
this foundation enable our purpose going
• How will our purpose strategy enrich
and strengthen our culture and values?
• How do we make purpose personal
to employees, unlocking additional
The purpose
of a company leads to
strategic choices and builds
on cultural strengths
to drive impact.
Marketing and sales
Engagement Measurement
Proof points
• Heavy, early investment in listening
to stakeholders and understanding
the current corporate culture—both
weaknesses and strengths
• Candid, transparent assessment of
corporate identity
• What are the biggest externalities
across our value chain (including the
impact of our products’ use) that have
not been considered, mitigated, or both?
• How can we align our supply-chain
partners to our purpose?
• Where can we work with peers and
other partners to diminish any negative
societal impact caused by our sector—
through, for example, collaborative
circular-economy initiatives?
Proof points
• Creating end-to-end value-chain
accountability from sourcing to recycling,
including sustainability metrics
and other environmental, social, and
governance (ESG) disclosures, and
comparing with stated goals
• Investing to help suppliers achieve
ESG goals and exiting relationships
with those that can’t or won’t
Marketing & sales
• How would our products and services
rank in terms of social and environmental
impact, compared with a ranking on
• What products and markets should
be exited, and how will those decisions
be made?
• How will purpose affect future
decisions to invest in new product and
market opportunities?
Proof points
• Exiting products/markets with
significant, adverse social impact—even
if it results in short-term revenue loss
• Entering new products/markets or
making changes to existing products
that enhance their societal value
• Making company-wide branding
decisions that integrate purpose
• To what extent does organizational structure
and governance enable employees to make
trade-offs that prioritize purpose?
• What are the most powerful levers to pull
around incentives, policies, and processes
to ensure purpose is lived?
• How are employees able to engage on
purpose today (including specific platforms
and opportunities for dialogue)?
Proof points
• Making clear changes to recruitment and
capability-building processes to embed
• Incorporating purpose-driven metrics into
compensation and performance decisions
• Developing mechanisms to constantly
measure the link between employee and
corporate purpose
• How does our company talk about purpose
with the board and investors?
• Who are the external stakeholders and
partners who must be engaged? How and
when should we engage them to ensure an
open and authentic dialogue?
• What kind of public engagement enables
us to project our purpose authentically?
Proof points
• Creating mechanisms to engage stakeholders early
• Engaging in purpose-driven public influence
where appropriate
• Withholding nonpurposeful use of public
influence (such as deciding to forgo a lobbying
opportunity whose implications include
identifiable, negative externalities)
• What data and evidence are critical to
measuring the total social and financial impact
of our purpose, and what gaps exist today?
• What is not being measured or reported today
that society will expect and hold us accountable
for in the future?
Proof points
• Accounting for externalities in monetary terms
• Tracking and reporting progress against
purpose goals
abound as we strive to align our business and societal goals; to integrate that identity
into the heart of our organizations; and to deliver on our purpose, including its
measurement, management, and communication.
Placing purpose at the core
What’s needed is relatively clear: it’s deep reflection on your corporate identity—what
you really stand for—which may well lead to material changes in your strategy and even
your governance (such as your status as a public company, a private company, or a publicbenefit corporation).
But how do you pull this off? What are the mechanics of getting it done and making it
real? How do you embrace challenging trade-offs and uncomfortable truths that, if
unaddressed, are likely to perpetuate the purpose gap and give rise to rhetoric that’s
not accompanied by credible action?
We don’t yet have complete answers to these difficult questions. One thing we are convinced
of, though, is that the only way to bridge a purpose gap is to embed your reflection,
exploration, discussion, and action in the heart of your business and your organization.
We describe here a necessary precondition for any of that, and then four steps for
moving ahead: sizing up where you are, including your vulnerabilities; clarifying how your
purpose connects with your company’s “superpower”; organizing with purpose in mind;
and measuring and managing purpose so that it really becomes part of your core DNA.
0. Understand that purpose is personal and emotional
The precursor to action is embracing the emotion and complexity associated with hard
work on purpose. There is no simple, input/output equation, which makes it hard to
address purpose in the context of prevailing shareholder models. Purpose also is deeply
intertwined with the people who make up an organization and who, like all of us, are
messy at times. Founder-driven companies, such as Starbucks, sometimes find it easier
to put purpose at their core, because their leaders connect with and shape purpose
emotionally as well as logically. The rest of us need to make this personal, too.
1. Get real: Create a baseline from your stakeholders’ perspectives
Connecting purpose with the heart of your company means reappraising your core:
the strategy you pursue, the operations driving you forward, and the organization itself.
That’s hard work, and you can’t do it without deep engagement from your top team,
employees, and broader stakeholders. But there’s no substitute. Your stakeholders care
about the concrete consequences of your lived purpose, not the new phrase at the
start of your annual report.
Start by taking a hard look at the relationships among your social and environmental impact,
your strategy, and your purpose, which may be misaligned. Such a reappraisal could
lead you to reevaluate some of those hard-to-reverse choices about where and how to
compete that represent the core of an effective strategy. The resulting friction is
uncomfortable, but also extremely valuable. You can encourage it on an ongoing basis
by building purpose-linked questions into your key strategy, budgeting, and capitalinvestment discussions. For example: “Which pillars of our strategy are most and least
congruent with our purpose? How would a ranking of our products and services according
to purpose compare with one based on profitability?” Questions such as these cause
everyone to pause, legitimize healthy introspection, and boost the odds of spotting
instances when taking a short-term revenue or margin hit is a small price to pay for
being true to who you are or want to be. (For a more complete set of purpose-related
questions, see sidebar, “Questioning purpose.”)
Your self-assessment must go well beyond strategy. Measure your social and environmental
impact, starting with a review of your supply-chain and supplier risks. Society now
holds you responsible for your entire business chain, beyond your corporate walls, including
what your suppliers do. If you, as a senior leader, have not been personally involved
with supplier issues recently, go and see for yourself. You don’t need another report; you
need deep conviction—either that your supply chain is healthy and sound today or
that you have a plan to make it so tomorrow. You need to recognize your vulnerabilities
in the eyes of society and tackle them.
Dig deep into the makeup of your products. If you make cell phones, how much plastic
in the product is recycled versus new, and how easy are your phones to repair versus
replace, which carries additional environmental cost? Your impact also extends to the
resources, including energy, that are required for the consumption of your products,
in their entirety. Starbucks recently estimated that about 20 percent of its total carbon
footprint was related to the production of dairy products consumed with its coffee.
Engage a wide range of stakeholders early as a key input into the process. A basicmaterials company we know interviewed 150 external stakeholders, including investors
who had chosen not to invest in its industry, as well as CEOs in other industries, all
with an eye toward understanding their posture and process related to purpose. Such
engagement brings out new perspectives, mitigates risk, and avoids surprises later
on. What would an activist discover by digging deeply? Where are you most vulnerable?
What is the central thing that critical stakeholders believe society expects from you,
and are you doing enough about that? Are you focusing on only a couple of the United
Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, while critics would emphasize others at the
bottom of your to-do list? Or are you “doing good” in some areas of your business, while
hoping this makes up for negatives in others? All these can be calibrated and assessed,
to some degree. At times, doing so may demand the courage to let your stakeholders’
perceptions of where you are trump your own views.
2. Connect purpose with your company’s ‘superpower’
As you take stock and tackle your company’s vulnerabilities, you also need to set bold
aspirations and push for specificity on the alignment between purpose and value. It’s
often present. Research by author and professor Raj Sisodia suggests that purposeled companies significantly outperformed the S&P 500 between 1996 and 2011.3 More
than 2,000 academic studies have examined the impact of environmental, social,
3 Rajendra Sisodia, Jagdish N. Sheth, and David Wolfe, Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion
and Purpose, second edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2014.
and governance propositions on equity returns, and 63 percent of them found positive
results (versus only 8 percent that were negative).
Such outcomes don’t arise magically because a company decides to be purpose-driven.
They take shape most effectively when purpose connects with a company’s “superpower”—
its unique ability to create value and drive progress across ESG themes. For example, the
multinational retailer H&M, whose CEO was previously its chief sustainability officer,
has embraced the superpower of its supply chain by opening it up to rival brands that
can use it to accelerate their own sustainability efforts.
Identifying and building around unique assets, capabilities, or points of leverage with
the potential for outsize impact on social challenges can create value in a variety of ways:
● Purpose can generate topline growth (or serve as an insurance policy against revenue
slippage) by creating more loyal customers, fostering trust, and preserving your
customer base at a time when 47 percent of consumers disappointed with a brand’s
stance on a social issue stop buying its products—and 17 percent will never return.
● Purpose-driven environmental stewardship can reduce costs—for example, by improving
energy or water efficiency.
● Purpose can unleash employee potential—helping you win the war for talent, retain
your best people, and boost employee motivation. Today, about two-thirds of
millennials take a company’s social and environmental commitments into account
when deciding where to work.
● Purpose can make you more aware of shifting external expectations, policy directions,
and industry standards—thereby helping you identify risks you might otherwise miss.
If a crisis does strike, preexisting alignment on the organization’s core reason for being
will enable a coordinated, values-driven response that is authentic to your people
and compelling to stakeholders. “Trusted” brands bounce back faster after product
mishaps and economic shocks, particularly when they respond effectively. This
remains as powerful a truth as it was in 1982, when Johnson & Johnson recalled and
repackaged Tylenol following a tampering tragedy.
● Purpose can improve your balance sheet. Danone, the French food multinational,
has achieved materially lower capital costs by meeting a set of ESG criteria, including
the registration of certain brands as B Corps over time. This move is backed by a
syndicate of banks that have committed to rewarding purposeful business with
cheaper capital.
The role of the leader is first to inspire creative thinking about what makes you unique,
how it links to purpose, and why it could be valuable—and then to encourage rigor in
embedding it in your company’s core. As you strive to connect the superpower of your
business with its impact on society, you’re likely to identify a rich constellation of
potential purpose initiatives. Some are near-term win–wins, delivering immediate societal
and financial benefits. Others clearly help society now but take longer to yield bottomline results. There also are bigger, “moon shot” bets, whose potential benefit to society
is enormous but, for shareholders, perhaps unclear. If you have already built momentum
with initiatives in the first two categories, it’s easier to stretch for moon shots—which
are the most meaningful, generate the most internal satisfaction, and also capture external
attention (including motivating others to act). For example, Patagonia’s commitment
to repairing jackets, to encourage reusing them, has been emulated by other makers of
outdoor wear.
3. Organize to keep purpose at the top of everyone’s mind, every day
Then there’s the organization itself. Do your people routinely reflect on purpose? Do your
critical organizational building blocks—whether they are business units, agile squads,
or pockets of functional expertise—have the autonomy and incentives to do their work
with purpose? Are your purpose-driven functions (such as philanthropy) self-contained
silos, or are they connected with the core of your business?
What about your culture? That, too, is part of your social impact. Just because you deliver
good service to customers doesn’t legitimize a toxic culture in your organization that
excludes people. Dig deep to assess your own culture, the level of engagement of your
own people, and the degree to which they feel empowered to bring their best selves
to work.
Above all, do you understand what your employees care about—their sources of meaning,
aspirations, and anxieties around social issues? Many CEOs are concerned that the
majority of their employees are not actively engaged. What would it take for employees
to bring enthusiasm, creativity, and collaboration to work, in addition to discipline?
Connecting your people’s individual purpose with organizational purpose is the critical
link. An Asian insurer provides explicit space in its leadership programs to reflect on
this connection. Meanwhile, a US-based healthcare company has prototyped an app with
which people can explore their values and purpose and make workplace connections
to enable the pursuit of those aims.
Making that link—in other words, achieving a truly purpose-driven culture—requires
listening and being very open to what you hear. According to the leader of a recent effort
to reexamine purpose at Nordea, a large bank in Scandinavia, it was indispensable
to spend time “listening to more than 7,000 people in and around our organization over
a period of six months . . . in workshops . . . online with surveys . . . [and] in more than
1,500 coffee-corner discussions. . . . We discussed deeply why people had joined us, why
they stayed, and what they see as impact for a financial institution.” That’s what it looks
like when organizations move purpose past slogans and buzzwords.
4. Measure what you can, and learn from what you measure
We all know that what gets measured gets done. But when it comes to purpose, what
metrics best reflect impact across the ESG playing field? For complex, far-flung organizations, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless array of conflicting
reporting standards. Different geographies demand different levels of rigor, and keeping
up with the range of voluntary reporting initiatives can be taxing. Popular frameworks
such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or the Global Reporting
Initiative framework are useful touchstones, but they cannot serve as the sole basis of
measurement efforts.
Instead, you should ask yourself and your peers questions like the following: What data
and evidence are critical to understanding your organization’s total social, environmental,
and financial impact? How much insight are your current reporting outputs generating
about your efforts to deliver on purpose? When was the last time you took action in
response to a metric about your purpose? Perhaps even more important: What is not
currently being measured or reported that society will hold you accountable for in
the future—such as the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with your industry?
And what metrics do your performance-management systems take into account?
Seventh Generation, a maker of cleaning and personal-care products, recently built
sustainability targets into the incentive system for its entire workforce, in service
of its goal of being a zero-waste company by 2025.
Changing how you incentivize people, including the integration of societal-impact goals
into compensation, is a “proof point” taken seriously by stakeholders. What other proof
points can you build in? Measuring and reducing your carbon footprint and making
substantial, measurable investments in reskilling are good examples. Ideally, such proof
points become mutually reinforcing. Shell, for example, has plans to set short-term
carbon-emissions targets and link executive compensation to performance against them.
You may need to create new metrics that more precisely reflect the tensions you are
seeking to reconcile for you and your stakeholders. At PayPal, CEO Dan Schulman and
his leadership team became concerned when they realized that a significant portion
of their nearly 25,000 employees, particularly at the entry level and in hourly positions,
were struggling to make ends meet despite the fact that the company was paying
wages at or above market rate. To Schulman, this “seemed ridiculous” for a company whose
purpose focuses on improving the financial health of its customers. As he put it, the
“market wasn’t working” for these employees—or for many others similarly situated.
PayPal surveyed its employees to assess their financial wellness, developed and began
tracking metrics such as a new “net disposable income” calculation for its employees,
and took immediate action to improve these metrics and provide its employees with
financial security. By significantly lowering the cost of medical benefits, making every
employee a shareholder, raising wages in certain instances, and delivering financialwellness training, PayPal set a target to raise the net disposable income of its employees
and improve their financial health. In a world where, as McKinsey Global Institute
research has shown, a majority of the next generation in advanced economies is “poorer
than their parents,” the impact of such initiatives cannot be overstated.4
Leading from the front
Purpose puts a premium on leadership. Move too fast, and you will be criticized for swinging
too far. Move too slowly, and you will be viewed as a corporate ostrich. Most dangerous
of all, if you claim to be delivering on purpose but are ultimately viewed as inauthentic, you
will lose credibility in front of your employees and society alike. For example, will you
stick to your purpose during economic turbulence, or only when times are good?
4 See “Poorer than their parents? A new perspective on income inequality,” McKinsey Global Institute, July 2016, McKinsey.com.
To be authentic, you must be unrelenting in elevating and stimulating debate about
uncomfortable truths and tensions you may be tempted to sweep under the rug. You also
need your own genuine way of talking about the symbiotic relationship between
corporate purpose and corporate performance. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has a simple
mantra: “No margin, no mission.” Feike Sijbesma, former CEO of life-sciences company DSM, simply says, “You cannot be successful, nor call yourself successful, in a
society that fails.”
Our recent survey indicated that 33 percent of managers experienced trade-offs between
purpose and profit, and 72 percent of all employees hoped that purpose would
receive more weight than profit. These findings underscore both the top team’s role in
mediating tensions, and the point we made earlier that some purpose initiatives
require a leap of faith. At times, senior leaders will need to embolden their managers
to take that leap, which is likely to be easier if some purpose-driven priorities are
self-funding, setting the stage for subsequent, bolder bets. Pixar director Brad Bird
describes these dynamics eloquently in a Quarterly interview: “[M]oney is just fuel
for the rocket. What I really want to do is go somewhere.”5
In pushing your company to define and live its purpose consistently, you will be challenging
the status quo in ways that may be unsettling for your people, and even for you.
Championing such change requires leading with empathy—which, according to McKinsey
research, means developing a broad future vision that extends beyond the problem
at hand, inspiring and building trust with others by finding common ground, and leading
by example. These findings suggest that a reset of leadership norms may be important
as you strive to define and live your organization’s purpose, which must feel congruent
and fit the style and actions of you, your senior team, and your employees. Remember,
purpose is personal. By embracing that reality, you can create alignment between people
and the organization that enables and ennobles everyone.
Decisions about purpose may be some of the more difficult decisions of your career.
There will be a cacophony of opinions; adjudicating them will take discipline and conviction.
There may be thinner evidence to guide your actions than you would like. Don’t let
yourself be rushed. Establish a fact base to help you weigh trade-offs and mitigate risks.
Above all, don’t settle for “generic” on purpose. You do have a superpower to discover,
and unique impact to deliver. Your company’s role stretches far beyond the confines of
your employees and customers. Your suppliers will look to you for guidance. Your peers
will look to you for inspiration. And society will hold you accountable for leaving the
world a better place than it was when you started.
Source : https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/purpose-shifting-from-why-to-how