Young employees feel forgotten by bosses

Young workers are feeling isolated after spending 18 months working from home due a lack of communication with their employers.

A new report from software company Advanced found one in four employees aged between 18 and 24 have been working in their bedroom while living at home or isolating in a flat or house share with strangers.

These young employees reportedly feel let down by the lack of time their employer has spent checking in on them, as just 37% have had regular check-ins from their boss since working remotely.

The pandemics impact on young people:

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Alex Arundale, chief people officer at Advanced, said employers need to be more considerate of how their young employees have been working during the pandemic.

She told HR magazine: “While it will be some time before we understand the true cost of the pandemic on young people, HR teams have a responsibility to find out exactly how the pandemic is affecting the budding careers of young employees.

“This means actively listening and responding to their concerns, and then working together to address them by putting in place the right structures, processes and tools.”

Each person is different so their needs will be too, said Arundale.

“HR teams will therefore need to listen and support young people on an individual basis.

“Some young workers, for example, will want to communicate with their boss and their colleagues more frequently than others, especially if they are continuing to work in isolation at home,” she said.

According to the report, 44% of 18–24-year-olds are looking forward to returning to the workplace, compared to 19% for over 25’s.

Over half (60%) cited social interaction as the main reason for wanting to return to the office.

For those who haven’t returned to the office yet, Arundale said team chats are a useful tool to stay in contact with younger members of your teams, as are virtual happy hours and team lunches.

She advised: “Buddying up is also invaluable so that young people working remotely, especially those starting their first ever job, have a dedicated person to coach, guide and support them during what is a very testing time.”

Arundale added HR teams play a vital role in noticing how workers deal with stress and signposting them to the right support.

“And it should go without saying, effective mental health strategies and a company culture that normalises mental health issues can help young workers feel supported,” she said.

Advanced’s 2021 Workforce Trends Survey was carried out online by Research Without Barriers between 11 June and 21 June 2021. The sample comprised 1,058 employees working in organisations in the UK with more than 100 employees.

Exclusive: Google Cloud Exec Rob Enslin Talks Neurodiversity In The Workforce And How The Autism Career Program Seeks Top Talent

Update 7/27: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Shar Bacchus was part of the Autism Career Program and is a Technical Program Manager at Google. They actually are part of Google’s Disabled Leadership Advisory Board (DLAB).

Google on Monday announced in a blog post the launch of what it calls the Google Cloud Autism Career Program. The Bay Area-based tech titan said it’s designed to “hire and support more autistic talent in the rapidly growing cloud industry.”

This effort by Google is the latest in an ever-growing trend, spearheaded by organizations big and small, to amplify the worthiness of disabled people in the workforce and their potential impact on myriad industries. Companies like Ablr and The Ability People have made it their mission to get employers to be more mindful and inclusive of disabled people when it comes to hiring. In a society where disabled people are widely viewed as incapable of making meaningful contributions to the economy—there’s the ableism monster rearing its ugly head yet again—the technology industry can serve as a prime example of the opposing perspective. To wit, it is the unique, lived experiences of disabled people that make products from Apple, Google, and others as good as they are—they are literally built for everyone by everyone.


Even the mainstream media is taking notice of the neurodiverse community in the job market. The venerable 60 Minutes news show recently aired a story in which co-host Anderson Cooper interviewed six autistic people from across the autism spectrum about what it’s like not only to work but to find it and maintain it successfully.

The Autism Career Program is the result of a collaborative effort between Google and the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, itself a part of the university’s School of Medicine, to develop the initiative. The school’s goal with the Project is to consult with and advise employers across the cloud computing industry on hiring potential workers from the neurodiverse community, and show how to make these employees’ careers a success. For its part, Google sees tremendous opportunity in funneling autistic people into the burgeoning cloud computing landscape. There are many ways they can excel.

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“One key pillar of our pilot program is to train up to 500 Google Cloud managers and others who are involved in hiring processes. Our goal is to empower these Googlers to work effectively and empathetically with autistic candidates and ensure Google’s onboarding processes are accessible and equitable,” wrote Rob Enslin, President of Global Customer Operations for Google Cloud, in the company’s announcement. “Stanford will also provide coaching to applicants, as well as ongoing support for them, their teammates and managers once they join the Google Cloud team.”

Enslin added Google is using the new program to “break down the barriers that autistic candidates most often face.” In addition to bias, Enslin explained the typical job interview process often puts an autistic applicant at a disadvantage because there are no accommodations—such as extending the interview time or answering questions in a Google Doc rather than verbally over the phone—with which the candidate can use to showcase their strengths. More often than not, they end up succumbing to their weaknesses exploited by how conventional job interviews are set up and managed.

In an exclusive interview with me conducted over email, Enslin said Google’s impetus for working on the Autism Career Program was influenced by two factors. First, as Enslin alluded to in the blog post, Google sees the neurodiverse community as a veritable treasure trove of talent largely untapped. The second factor is inextricably tied to the first: the cloud computing industry is an area of the tech sector that’s growing rapidly, and the demand for talent is commiserate with said fast growth.

“There is an incredible opportunity within the technology industry for individuals from all backgrounds, and we’re eager to open more doors through our program,” Enslin said.

Enslin explained how the cloud computing industry is an ideal environment for attracting top talent—particularly autistic talent. From sales to customer support to data science to engineering and more, there is an abundance of opportunity for hungry tech workers wanting work. Google believes autistic people can be successful doing anything in the organization; Enslin was confident in saying that because, as he told me, “they’re already here making critical contributions.” There are numerous Googlers, as employees are colloquially known, who identify as disabled and work on making Google’s products more accessible. It’s similar elsewhere in tech as well.

The bullishness with which Enslin and Google regard the contributions from those in the neurodiverse community stems from an institutional belief they can train hiring managers and other leaders to embrace disabled workers’ skills. In reality, however, the Autism Career Program is a microcosm of Google’s philosophy on diversity and inclusion vis-a-vis disability. As Enslin put it: “Google is incredibly proud to create a workplace for all individuals. While this program [the Autism Career Program] is just one example of Google Cloud’s commitment to inclusion, it is an important one,” he said. “With a team that is more representative of the diverse customers we serve, we will also create better products, services and experiences for our customers.”

When asked what feedback on the Autism Career Program has been like, Enslin demurred. He instead offered a quote from Shar Bacchus, who serves on Google’s internal Disabled Leadership Advisory Board (DLAB).

“Responses to neurodiversity programs at work are as varied as the number of neurodiverse candidates and employees participating in them; there’s no single answer that covers everyone’s perspective. But I personally am excited that I work for a large company that’s constantly learning to recognize and appreciate neurodiversity in its workforce; solicits my opinions and is building processes to address my needs,” Bacchus said in a statement. “I’m also excited about the work still ahead of us in appreciating and integrating neurodiversity, at Google, and across the globe.”

As for what the future may hold for the Autism Career Program, Enslin said it’s early days yet so the primary focus currently is to ensure the launch is going well. He added he is pleased with how things are going thus far. He said Google will monitor its progression and continue to check in with Stanford to “identify the most effective and sustainable way to scale the program while preserving the qualities that we hope make it successful in the first place.” Moreover, Enslin reiterated the company’s stance on uplifting the disability community, saying “we remain committed to supporting the hiring of people with disabilities more broadly through our accommodations process in interviews and partnership with organizations like Disability:IN and Ability Jobs.”


Are You Living Life By A Question?

Have you ever wondered how you could transform your life for the better if you let the magic of you lead you through a less travelled path of life?

Did you know that Neil Armstrong—the first person to walk on the moon had an option to attend MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)? Who would refuse this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? This naval aviator did.

After watching a football game, he chose to study at Purdue University instead. That decision changed the course of his life and eventually that of history. Had he followed the predictable route, he might never have become the legend he is.

Let’s talk about another bold risk-taker—Sarah Blakely, the self-made American billionaire. The founder of Spanx had saved 5,000 dollars from selling fax machines door-to-door. She used all of it to start Spanx. What if she hadn’t followed her intuition? What if she hadn’t taken this risk? The women’s fashion industry would be completely different.

Predictable routes are steps you should take. The choices made to appease others or to follow a standard lifestyle such as attending university, choosing a job that will pay your bills, getting married, having kids… You buy the right clothes to impress your “friends.” You buy a house in a certain neighborhood. You drive a car that others will admire. All of these choices should secure your future.

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They should cement your status in a certain group and yet, you don’t always feel fulfilled. Why is that? Because you are living a life based on decisions, judgments, calculations and conclusions.

What would it be like instead to be living life by a question?

The Audacity of Asking Questions
The power of a question resides in its potential to open up a myriad of possibilities you can explore. For example, when you ask yourself, “If I choose this job or project now, what will my life be like five years from now? Will it offer me more possibilities to choose from, add more value to my life, and permit me to be a greater contribution to the world?” Wait for a moment to receive the answer and notice what comes to you. Note the energy in your body. What does it communicate? How do you feel when you think of that possible future?

The millisecond after you ask a question, if you feel light and expansive, happy and enthusiastic; if there is an inner smile in you, know that you are in alignment with your true self. If you feel down or heavy, a bit sad or stuck, know that this option will demand you to betray your core being.

It may be a high-paying, excellent job offer but it may suck the light and life out of you. Ask yourself, “Is reaching that destination so important to me? Is it all about that end result? What about the arduous journey I will have to endure until I reach my target? Is it really worth it?”

Intellect and Intuition
At this point, there will always be a tussle between intellect and intuition. The job of the mind is to ensure you are safe. In most cases, we have assigned it that responsibility. Therefore, the mind will deter you from following your heart’s calling.

Intuition always follows bliss. That is why when you abide by it, you experience an unexplainable joy and contentment. How do you decide which path to choose? You simply tap into the uniqueness of you. How do you do that? Ask a question.

Lucid Living
As per recorded history, the total number of human beings that have ever lived (and are living) on this planet until now is over 100 billion! No one life has ever been the same as another. This means there are over 100 billion unique stories to discover.

You have developed distinct talents in this lifetime. It is time to unveil your hidden treasures. Choose a path that will allow you to exercise your uniqueness and make a difference in the world, and to the world. You are 1 in over 100 billion! That is how unique you are. Your story in this tapestry of human history needs to be told. Don’t squander the miracle of you in the name of a standard existence!

Each day when you awaken, take a few deep breaths. This will calm your mind. Then, ask yourself – “How can I be the best version of me today?” Sit with this question for a few minutes. Don’t rush to get an answer.

If a reply does not seem to come your way immediately, or if you’re not sure how you should interpret the response, don’t worry. Know that the universe will present you situations throughout the day whereby you can demonstrate the best version of you.

Allow Yourself to Be
Another powerful aspect of living by asking questions, rather than living through conclusions, is living in allowance.

Allowance permits you to see things from a fresh perspective, without any judgment or obligation to do anything. You will therefore invite more opportunities. It opens doorways to unforeseen futures. If certain aspects of your life seem different, it may signal the birth of a new creation that you hadn’t planned or anticipated. If you allow yourself to take that path (instead of your predictable one) there’s no telling where you might end up. By following your intuition, and overcoming the primal fear of taking risks, you will change your life and perhaps even leave an indelible imprint on the world.

When you lead an authentic life, following your true calling, you are constantly in a state of bliss. Instead of bringing out the worst in you, your struggles make you stronger. When you arrive in a place of inner peace, when you are content and healthy, you are a contribution to yourself and to everyone and everything around you.

Conventional wisdom dictates that people who concentrate on themselves are selfish, but that is not necessarily true. Even the unabashed optimist/altruist who cares more for others than she does for herself, who’s always there to listen and give support, money, her time and energy, will eventually need to recharge, refuel and reassess. If you understand the energy dynamic and heed what your personal energy is communicating to you, you can continue to give without depleting your own resources. Nourish your life, your needs, and you will be able to give even more.

Louise Hay, the renowned author and founder of Hay House, a leading publishing house, once said: “Should is a word that makes a prisoner of me. Every time I say ‘should,’ I am making myself wrong, or I am making someone else wrong. In effect, I am saying I am not good enough.”

Living life from a perspective of how it should be led—choosing those standardized paths and probable outcomes is the route most people take. Having led miserable, uneventful or unfulfilling lives, most regret not having followed their dreams and passions. Many wish they could turn back the clock to alter the trajectory of their lives. Time travel is still science fiction, however it is never too late to start leading an authentic life—you can still live every moment in the realm of possibilities rather than foregone conclusions.

No matter where you are in the journey of your life, press the pause button. Ask yourself, “Am I the best me I can be?” If the answer is no, take baby steps to alter your course. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to evaluate your choices based on your own happiness.


A conversation on organizational trust with Punit Renjen

Professor Sandra Sucher and research associate Shalene Gupta study trust at Harvard Business School and are the authors of the upcoming book The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It. They sat down with Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO, to have a candid conversation on the power of trust and how leading organizations build, measure, and nurture trust.

Sandra Sucher: We so appreciate your time to sit down and have this honest conversation. To start, what was a personal moment in your life when you recognized the importance of trust?

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Punit Renjen: Thank you, Sandra. Trust is a topic with deep resonance for me on both a personal and professional level. We often take trust for granted until it’s shaken or even lost, and then we quickly come to understand its critical role in any relationship. One experience that stands out for me is from 1994, the year I was being considered for partnership in Deloitte. I’d been with the firm in the US for eight or nine years, but I needed to take a break. In the 1990s, the concept of sabbaticals and work-life balance were not as widely accepted as they are today. I made my case to the managing partner for the region.
He agreed to do it. I trusted him; we didn’t set it down in writing. But it was both a professional and personal risk in the sense that I trusted him that I could come back and pick up where I left off. And he trusted me to come back. Trust needs to be mutual for effective relationships. Many people said that I was out of my mind to do it. But I returned refreshed and refocused and was accepted into the partnership in 1996.
Sucher: Why did you decide to make trust a major initiative at Deloitte?

Renjen: In recent years, the concept of trust has been strained. The challenges facing society—a global pandemic, the climate crisis, social and political upheaval, and inequality—are happening at a time when there is a significant trust deficit, and in large part because of it. The implicit social contract between institutions and individuals has frayed. And we’ve seen the results firsthand. If we don’t have a reliable way of calibrating and measuring trust, we will be further adrift.
Deloitte saw the need for a tangible and pragmatic approach to assessing and improving levels of trust for organizations. We developed a way to measure and manage trust across a wide range of stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, and regulators, among others. What really started to crystallize our thinking was that trust is something very tangible, and we and other organizations need to be explicit and proactive in managing trust. So we researched and analyzed this topic deeply and came up with a comprehensive approach, methodology, and, most importantly, a trust measurement and insights platform, to help our own organization and clients quantify and understand where they stand in terms of trust across all stakeholders.
Shalene Gupta: In our research, we have certainly seen that play out. In the book, we examine some high-profile cases such as Uber and Boeing, as well as some lesser-known cases, where organizational leadership were not made aware of the early indicators [that] they were on the path to losing trust. There is a paragraph in our book where we assert that “a breach of trust involves much more than the risk of bad publicity. It can be an open invitation for clients to switch to another brand, employees to leave, investors to pull their funds, and governments to slap down sanctions, and it can lead to your company’s demise.”1 And while it says trust once lost can be recovered, the consequences during the time it takes to recover can be enormous—up to 56% of market capital loss.2
Sucher: I agree. In addition, we have learned a lot in our research to demonstrate that trust is not a vague feeling that needs to be guarded, but one that spurs performance and can make an organization better: Teams that trust their leaders perform better. In a study of a global hotel chain, 6,500 employees rated their trust in their managers from 1 to 5. A one-eighth point increase in trust on this rating scale was correlated with a 2.5% increase in revenue.3 One study found that trustworthy companies outperform low-trust companies by 2.5 times;4 meanwhile, 85% of stakeholders report they are more likely to sever their relationship with a company that suffers a negative trust event.5

Gupta: Deloitte is a huge organization spread over multiple countries with multiple initiatives. How do you scale trust across the organization?

Renjen: We have principles based on accountability and responsibility. If there’s no clear accountability, then everybody’s responsible, which means nobody’s responsible. It’s a simple but effective management principle.

The second element is clarity. In terms of what needs to be accomplished, how, by when, and with specific measures of impact.
The third element is communication, frequently and transparently. Communicating with stakeholders isn’t always easy; in fact, it can be very challenging at times. But frequent and transparent communications is a tool for building trust. Organizations must be accessible and transparent with their customers, employees, investors, and other important stakeholders. If something uncomfortable needs to be addressed, move with speed, call it out, and lean into it with courage. Wishing away the issues or deflecting them are surefire ways of losing trust. This is business, and it’s imperfect—people understand that, but when you are evasive, trust is lost.
I also believe organizations need to pay attention to their incentive and reward structure and what they measure. The wrong construct can lead to the wrong behavior.

Ultimately, however, it always ties back to our purpose of creating tangible impact for clients, for our people, and for the communities in which we live and work. We are centered on intent and competence as our core trust enablers. Our purpose and values are embedded in everything we do.

Sucher: What ingredients does Deloitte have that help it become a trusted organization?

Renjen: Our recipe isn’t complex, but it requires you to always use all the ingredients. First, we hire the right type of individuals—those who share our values. Next, we enculturate them. Deloitte operates in many countries with different customs and traditions. However, our people are governed in their professional lives by a common purpose and shared values around the world, centered on integrity and high ethical standards. Do we get it right 100% of the time? No, but when we do make a mistake, we respond quickly. We think our recipe has worked well—our 175-year heritage as an organization attests to that.

As we have discussed, trust for an organization can and should be measured and managed. But it’s one thing to measure trust; it’s another to actually act on what you measure. Clients who have used metrics indicate that leaders respond to results differently. Some shy away from them, while others embrace them as cues for course correction. Deloitte has developed a process that includes taking clients to unique collaboration spaces to creatively brainstorm solutions. This helps clients understand trust measures and creates a clear path from insights to actions.

Sucher: How do you think about yourself as a leader? A lot of the research we’re doing shows that who a leader is shapes how they build trust.

Renjen: I think the framework that you and Shalene laid out in your book is a great way to define trust. We have also defined trust in a way that allows organizations to act on it. Fundamentally, people’s trust in an organization is based on their assessment of that organization’s competence and intent. We have been using this to think about our programs at Deloitte—from impacting climate change, to helping communities rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, to our own purpose-driven initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s critical that we marshal the full impact of these investments in a way that authentically conveys what we stand for and what we have accomplished.
Gupta: Thank you, Punit. Let me briefly expand on the thinking that went into our framework.
First is competence. Competence is an organization’s ability to deliver a product or a service that fills a need. This is the basic requirement for building other types of trust. According to a University of Notre Dame study on trust between vendors and buyers, trust in a vendor’s expertise and reliability—their competence—was essential for building the more affective parts of trust, such as trust in a vendor’s motives.6 However, competence can only take a company so far.

Customers also care about an organization’s motives: a belief that organizations will do what is good for their stakeholders, or at the very least try to minimize any potential harm. We expect when we buy a product or a service that it will live up to its promise, and that the company that sold it to us will not actively try to harm us and will take a reasonable amount of care to ensure our well-being. We cannot police each and everything a company does, so in order to engage with a company, we have to generally trust that they have good motives and do not intend to hurt us.

The next element of trust is means: our assessment of how fairly an organization acts to accomplish its goals. Companies that are trusted to act fairly are given more leeway, while companies that aren’t are scrutinized. In 2008, senior managers at Nokia were celebrating 67% increase in profits, yet they knew, thanks to increasing labor costs and competition, they would need to close their Bochum plant in Germany, laying off 2,300 employees. The move was widely perceived as unfair, and the outrage was so great the public boycotted Nokia products.7 Yet, in 2011 to 2012, Nokia created an innovative approach to managing a vast restructuring. As a result, employees stayed on their jobs until the end, and 60% of 18,000 employees across 13 countries knew their next step the day they left the firm.8 The program was recognized by the Finnish government as a best practice in restructuring.

Finally, impact. If we don’t believe a company’s actions will have a positive effect on our lives, we will work to limit its power. Consider the case studies we have cited. If an organization doesn’t make good on its stated purpose or mission, then that’s a case of lost trust, which can often be a major misstep for an organization that has the right intent but fails to follow through on impact.

Renjen: That’s a great way of thinking about building trust for an organization. Certainly, there are several parallels between your thinking and how we have defined trust in the context of the enterprise. I also have a few observations from my personal experience. I believe that what we do in our professional lives defines a lot of who we are. I’ve spent 35 years with Deloitte and will finish my career here. I am proud of the organization that has been built on a foundation of trust, purpose, diversity, and inclusion. I want to look at myself in the mirror and say, I had a hand in creating that. That’s guided the way I have approached my career and the person I am today.

Sucher: Where should organizations begin now to strengthen trust within their stakeholders and build that trust equity?

Renjen: Trust begins with communication. Companies can take steps to get ahead of a trust crisis through transparency, understanding, and listening. Most companies do a pretty good job of articulating the things they’re doing, and why, but they don’t always do a good job of sharing what they aren’t doing, and why. This communication void can raise questions and concerns for investors and other stakeholders.

Should a crisis occur, CEOs often get mired in issues of potential legal liability, sometimes losing sight of reputational exposure; there needs to be a balance between the two. To be certain, a CEO has fiduciary responsibility to protect the financial health of an organization, but he or she also needs to foster an atmosphere of integrity, truthfulness, and realism. They need to hold firm on the issues that define them and the organization.

Sucher and Gupta: Thank you for your candid insights. As trust researchers, we are so glad to collaborate with an organization that has this kind of commitment to trust. During the past year, we’ve dealt with a pandemic, social and political unrest, and widespread economic crisis. At heart lies a deeper question: Who can we trust? Trust is a relationship in which we are vulnerable to others’ actions—a relationship in which we are not just relying on the other party to do what we want; we are trusting them to do what we want and not hurt us in the process.


Strategic Business Growth: Now Is the Time to Think Like a Startup

Strategic Business Growth: Now Is the Time to Think Like a Startup
chalkboard what do you want to change for strategic business growth
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

I’ve said on more than one occasion that organizations are very focused on economic recovery right now. And I still believe that’s true. So, I was particularly interested to hear how companies were reporting on their financial progress during Q2 earnings calls.

Organizations that want to focus on business growth right now need to think about how they are going to build (or possibly change to) a supporting organizational structure.

One of the companies that caught my attention was Pepsi. Their quarterly revenue rose more than 20% from a year earlier. What struck me was a quote from their CFO Hugh Johnston. “A lot of the things we did through the pandemic, continuing to invest in the business, are paying dividends now that mobility has increased, and consumers are getting out more.”

I’m not here today to debate about Pepsi as a product. But I do believe that Johnston’s comment about strategic business growth is important. It reminded me of something that I read in ChartHop’s “Guide to Intentional Growth” about laying the groundwork for business success. Organizations have an opportunity where their business growth is concerned. I say “have” because I believe it’s not too late. But it does take planning.

Build a Supporting Organizational Structure
One of the reasons that I titled today’s article “think like a startup” is because organizations have a terrific opportunity right now to make some of the changes they’ve always wanted to make. It kinda reminds me of a startup.

A startup organization doesn’t have much structure at first. As time goes on, they add staff, and even then, they still might not have much of an org chart. But after a while, a natural order starts to fall into place – both in terms of organizational structure as well as individual roles and responsibilities. Certain employees will accept ownership of tasks, like the office manager who starts keeping track of everyone’s vacation time.

Groups or teams of employees will start collaborating because they see the value in each other’s talents – for example, marketing and HR will work together on company branding initiatives. And employees will ask other individuals with more experience for guidance or approvals. This might happen when someone needs a new computer – the employee, accounting, and IT will work together to make sure the right equipment is purchased (and paid for!)

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t all miraculously appear one day in a startup. And sometimes employees need a little nudge in the right direction (if you know what I mean). My point is this – one of the reasons we hear about startups being successful is because they are flexible and agile. They don’t let years of history keep them from creating change. In fact, they embrace change as a way to move forward. They create their strategic business growth strategies and then build the organization to support them.

Unfortunately, there are organizations that sometimes make the mistake of building the organization and then their business growth strategy. You’ve probably seen it too. It can be difficult for these organizations to get out of their own way and, like I said … think like a startup to create necessary change.

Organizations that want to focus on business growth right now need to think about how they are going to build (or possibly change to) a supporting organizational structure.

Seeing the Plan Can Help You Achieve It
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear about ChartHop and their story. ChartHop is a company that’s helping organizations achieve their business growth strategies by providing employee data visualization tools. One of the features that ChartHop provides – that’s very relevant to our conversation about business growth – is the ability to create workforce planning scenarios using the employee data from your existing HR Information System (HRIS).

This is exactly how workforce planning aligns with and benefits the company’s business growth. Organizations create strategic plans and then they need to find the people to help them achieve those goals.

ChartHop Logo
Realistically, there’s more than one way to accomplish that. From a talent perspective, organizations can buy, build, and/or borrow talent. They can plan multiple scenarios using a variety of combinations. What I liked about the ChartHop platform is that the organization could easily create, edit, and change their workforce plan based on their strategic goals and assumptions. The data visualization would allow the company’s talent strategy to be as agile as changing business conditions dictate. The results could be huge in terms of HR’s ability to source, hire, and engage the best talent – which we all know is a priority.

The Key to Business Growth is People
Organizations have an opportunity to create competitive advantage. Like the Pepsi quote mentioned at the beginning of this article, it requires investments and planning. A big part of the investment and planning piece is related to talent.


To Grow A Successful Business, CEOs Need To Shrink Their Egos And Empower Staff

After successfully running and then selling a multimillion-dollar family-owned paint business, the most valuable lesson Don Strube came away with wasn’t about corporate control.

It was realizing that he had to shrink his ego.

If Strube hadn’t overcome his ego, established processes to hire and retain the right people and develop a positive company culture, success likely would have eluded him. He told Zenger he learned to become less involved in day-to-day functions, as well as overcome other challenges that leaders of growing businesses often face.

These include fear of not being in control of all operations, learning how to hire, train, trust — and hold accountable — senior executives.

As a result of these lessons, Strube has been able to capitalize on a number of opportunities. After selling Color Wheel Paints in 2005, Strube and his brother founded Florida Paints in 2012 “from scratch.” Thanks to excellent executives, including younger family members, Florida Paints is projected to gross $50 million in 2021. And just last year, the company brought 22-year-old TikTok star Tony Piloseno and his then-1.6 million followers into Florida Paints family business to attract the next generation of paint buyers.

The fear factor

As small businesses grow, typically so does the owners’ stress level. Many find that they soon have more direct reports than they can effectively lead.

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“Once you add a zero to the number of staff you’re leading, you must have good leaders who can manage and guide those people,” said Fortune 500 speaker Joey Coleman, author of “Never Lose A Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days.”

“Many people can effectively lead four team members; few — if any — can effectively lead 40.”

Coleman said many leaders of growing companies “get burnt out because they have stopped envisioning the future and are in the slog of managing people, calling it “office babysitting.”

“What they don’t realize is that empowering subordinate leaders creates new opportunities to foster a great team, establish productive relationships and paint a picture for the organization with new ideas and more growth,” said Coleman.

Confident male leader, coach talking with group of office workers
Business owners must learn to put ego aside and empower employees for their businesses to grow. GETTY
When it comes to relinquishing control, many leaders have a fear of letting go, said CEO coach Mark Silverman.

“Many CEOs compensate for a lack of trusted staff by working long hours,” Silverman told Zenger. “But at some point, you can’t compensate for not having the right people in the right seats. Systems break down, opportunities get missed and clients and staff leave. At that point, growth will only happen if the CEO overcomes fear and has the right team.”

The problem of ego –— a variation on the fear that only the leader can do the job — also must be addressed.

Strube said he got over his ego by having “a hard discussion with the man in the mirror. We agreed that if everything is to be done exactly the way I want it, the company will only have one employee.”

Once Strube addressed his ego issue, he sought senior executives who were dedicated to the company and their roles; who had the ability to solve problems with minimal friction; and who had common personal and professional beliefs, and — if possible — common spiritual beliefs and values. And once they were in place, he held those executives accountable to “five or fewer” key performance indicators. He also incentivized success through equity ownership opportunities, performance and efficiency bonuses, and participation in monthly reviews of the company’s finances.

Letting go in order to grow

Jim Morgan, chair of C12 in Northern Virginia/MetroD.C., an advisory group for Christian CEOs, rose through the ranks to lead printing and graphics company Balmar to $50 million in annual sales. He told Zenger he made two common leadership mistakes: “holding onto things we enjoy and handling mission-critical areas where we don’t trust our leaders.”

Morgan said he was overly involved with staff issues and company sales.

“It wasn’t bad for me to be active with sales or staff, but the company needed dedicated executives and managers to build a strong sales engine, put out staff fires and allow me to truly lead.”

Don Strube, co-founder of Florida Paints. COURTESY, FLORIDA PAINTS
Using feedback to build a culture of success

Along with engaged executives who help a CEO grow the company, junior staff must also feel part of the firm’s family, business leaders told Zenger.

Josh MacFarland, market leader at Gallup, said that small businesses can accomplish this without lavish perks.

“Our research shows that when managers provide weekly feedback, employees are about three times more likely to be highly motivated and engaged at their work,” he said. “Feedback doesn’t have to be over-the-top or perfect; focusing on employees’ natural strengths and talents is best, but critical feedback is better than no feedback at all.”

Ahmed Ali, founder of TISTA Science and Technology Corp., told Zenger that he values culture, but the term “is one of the most misunderstood phrases in the business world today.”

“For many growing small businesses, the culture is whatever the CEO or founder is feeling like that day” instead of a consistent set of values and staff support, said Ali. “A CEO or founder cannot impress a culture upon 400 employees. Only senior executives, guided by the CEO, can do that to their direct reports, who carry it down to the lowest-level employee.

“A thriving, durable company culture is built to support staff,” said Ali, who has 800 full-time employees, a far cry from when he started as a one-man operation. “In TISTA, for example, we want a culture of altruism and giving. We surveyed staff to find out what was most meaningful to them when it comes to donations, and we used those survey results to provide opportunities for staff to volunteer for, and donate to, causes important to them.”

As for Strube, he is consumed today not by ego but by his desire to bring passionate, paint-loving people such as Piloseno into the company, the results have been rosy.

Since hiring Piloseno last year, Strube said, he has been freed up to launch an online product line, experiments with new target markets through a growing number of followers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Without Strube’s trust in Florida Paints’ senior executives, this match made in paint cans never would have happened.


The worker-employer relationship disrupted

“Shopify, like any other for-profit company, is not a family. The very idea is preposterous. You are born into a family. You never choose it, and they can’t un-family you. The dangers of ‘family thinking’ are that it becomes incredibly hard to let poor performers go. Shopify is a team, not a family.” — Tobias Lütke, CEO, Shopify
Shopify reminded workers that they’re a business, not a family.1 Basecamp banned societal and political discussions at work.2 Fujitsu took the first steps to end “solo work” practices.3 Goldman Sachs came under fire for workers’ 100 hour weeks.4 And Danone set its sights on becoming the world’s largest B-Corp. Whatever you thought the worker-employer relationship was before, there’s no doubt that it is under stress and evolving now.

What’s less clear is what form it will take moving forward. How will the worker-employer relationship shift as employers and workers push and pull each other in the pursuit of their various needs? Will organizations continue to embrace their role as social enterprises? Will workers’ trust in business remain steadfast, or will they look for leadership outside of organizational walls?

Learn more
Explore the 2021 Human Capital Trends collection
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Learn about Deloitte’s services

This special report explores one set of possible answers to the central question: How might the worker-employer relationship evolve to meet the opportunities and challenges of the post–COVID-19 world?
In a world full of uncertainties, we’ve used scenario planning to explore the possible futures of the worker-employer relationship, seeking to challenge conventional wisdom, stretch our thinking and horizons, and chart a new course. The insights on the following pages leverage our scenario planning methodology and are fueled by research findings from a combination of social media polling, live survey polling, artificial intelligence (AI)–enabled focus groups, and interviews with business and HR executives across industries and workers all over the world.
COVID-19: Testing the limits of the worker-employer relationship
The pandemic strained and tested the worker-employer relationship. Employers were called upon to support workers’ health, livelihoods, and dignity to an unprecedented degree, and their success—or failure—to do so came under unprecedented scrutiny. The result was that developments that might have played out over a period of many years were compressed into a matter of months.

Sometimes, these pressures yielded great benefits. Workers showed remarkable resilience and adaptability as they rose to the pandemic’s challenges, and with their employers’ support and mandate, they achieved innovative results that could otherwise have taken years to materialize. But many questions also arose about whether organizations were doing enough to support and safeguard their workers. People quickly pointed to organizations’ shortcomings in protecting workforce segments that were disproportionately impacted by the health crisis and pursuant economic downturn—young workers, who were most likely to be unemployed or underemployed;5 minority groups, whose labor force participation steeply declined; and women, whose employment was found to be 19% more at risk than men.6 Organizations also faced backlash for their role in encouraging high-pressure working conditions. Eighty-nine percent of workers in a February 2021 global Harvard Business Review study said that their work life was getting worse, 85% said that their well-being declined, and 56% said that their job demands had increased.7

Perhaps then it’s no surprise that we find ourselves in a moment of reflection. Workers are reconsidering everything from who they want to work for—with 40% of the global workforce considering leaving their employer this year8—to the role they expect employers to play in supporting their purpose and values. Likewise, organizations are contemplating their role in society and their relationship with their workers—with some leaning in and others backing away.

And while the worker-employer relationship may be top of mind for both workers and executives, they may not be aligned on how it will evolve. Sixty-three percent of the workers we surveyed in our research for this special report felt that their relationship with their employer will stay the same or become a stronger partnership, while 86% of executives told us they believe workers will gain greater independence and influence relative to their employers in the future.

Talent supply and government impact: Key contexts for the worker-employer relationship
Understanding how the worker-employer relationship could evolve begins with identifying which factors will have the greatest influence on the relationship moving forward. We used focus groups to get executives’ perspectives on what those factors could be, discussing possibilities such as economic growth, the use of technology in business, unexpected disasters, climate change, and social divides in access to resources such as education, wealth, and health. But beyond the rest, the two factors that stood out as being the most influential on the future of the worker-employer relationship in our research were talent supply and government impact.

Talent supply: How talent availability will influence how workers seek employment and how organizations access and retain them. The most evident impact of talent supply is the different actions that organizations or workers might take depending on how easy or difficult it is to get a job or secure an appropriately skilled worker. For instance, talent supply could influence whether organizations are likely to invest in reskilling; to what extent workers will seek changes in their employers or careers; how organizations could use the alternative workforce to access the skills and capabilities they need; and how heavily an organization might lean on technology to replace, augment, or collaborate with their workforce.

Talent supply is already a key concern and growing in importance. The pandemic exacerbated growing digital, education, and skilling divides around the globe—putting further strain on talent supply considerations and trends. In 2020, 80% of job losses were among the lowest quarter of wage earners, many of whom work in hard-hit sectors such as leisure and hospitality, government, and education.9 And a new study estimates that 100 million global low-wage workers will need to find a different occupation by 2030.10 At the same time, the demand for skilled workers is growing, with seven in 10 employers globally saying they are struggling to find workers with the right mix of technical skills and human capabilities.11

Government impact: How government action will affect workers’ and employers’ roles in the new world of work. In our research for this special report, government regulation rose to the top as the most influential external factor behind an organization’s and its workforce’s ability to thrive. The type, consistency, speed, and effectiveness of government action could all influence the worker-employer relationship. For instance, government effectiveness in driving social change, such as policies around worker representation or protection, or actions to address concerns such as climate change or social injustice, could shift workers’ expectations of their employers to attend to such issues. Public policy and regulation protecting jobs and wages, enhancing social safety nets and benefits, improving access to education, or investing in reskilling could decrease workers’ reliance on their employers for these things. And public policies that restrict or create an additional burden on organizations seeking to create work in new geographies, access talent across borders, or leverage alternative workforce segments could influence workforce planning and talent strategies.

We use these two factors, talent supply and government impact, to explore four potential futures that illustrate how the world of work and the worker-employer relationship could evolve:

Work as fashion: In a “work as fashion” future, employers are in constant motion as they chase worker sentiments, competitor actions, and marketplace dynamics. The worker-employer relationship is REACTIVE: Employers feel compelled to respond in the moment to workers’ expressed preferences, and to competitor moves, without connecting those actions to a sustainable workforce strategy.
War between talent: In a “war between talent” future, workers compete for limited jobs due to an oversupply of talent. The worker-employer relationship is IMPERSONAL: Employers view workers as interchangeable and easily replaceable, and workers are more concerned with competing with each other for jobs than with the quality of their relationship with their employer.
Work is work: In a “work is work” future, workers and employers view organizational responsibility and personal and social fulfillment as largely separate domains. The worker-employer relationship is PROFESSIONAL: Each depends on the other to fulfill work-related needs, but both expect that workers will find meaning and purpose largely outside of work.
Purpose unleashed: In a “purpose unleashed” future, purpose is the dominant force driving the relationship between workers and employers. The worker-employer relationship is COMMUNAL: Both workers and employers see shared purpose as the foundation of their relationship, viewing it as the most important tie that binds them together.

These four futures are illustrative, not exhaustive. They can be either positive or negative, depending on the choices that workers and employers make. Organizations will likely find themselves in some combination of these futures depending on the needs and expectations of their workforce, their industry, their regions, and the communities in which they operate. The increased complexity of the world requires us to abandon “one-size-fits-all” views in lieu of a more nuanced approach and understanding.
Charting your course
The narrative that follows explores each possible future in detail and outlines the risks that succumbing to its pressures could raise. In each future we offer an instinctive response—the path we believe most organizations would take when faced with the dynamics and conditions of that world. But the instinctive response is just that—not a conscientious strategy.

The alternative to taking the instinctive route includes actions that can allow organizations to survive—the basic elements that must be in place for an employer to do well in each future. Organizations that embrace a survival mindset will be able to tread water—leveraging near-term strategies to navigate the future, with an expectation (or hope) that the world will revert to business as usual once external pressures cede. While survival strategies are important in the near term, they do not give an organization the tools they need to chart their own destiny for longer-term success.

Moving beyond a survive mindset to a thrive mindset requires a recognition that disruption is continuous rather than episodic, and a willingness to use disruption as a catalyst to drive the organization forward. The 15% of the 3,630 executives in our 2021 Global Human Capital Trends research who said their organization was very prepared for COVID-19 were already adopting a thrive mindset.12 This could be especially important as organizations consider the future of their relationship with workers, since those who adopted a thrive mindset were three times more likely than their peers to bring human strengths to the fore—leveraging worker adaptability and mobility to navigate disruption.

In these futures, you will read about how organizations can take a greater leap to ideas and practices that may seem unconventional or aspirational, but that can be essential to an organization’s ability to build purpose and meaning in work, unleash the potential of the workforce, and employ new perspectives.

As you read on, challenge yourself to avoid concluding that the coming years will accelerate the changes you already expected or believed were inevitable. Instead, imagine how the future might assume a different course—and how you might address the opportunities and challenges that future course might present. As Peter Drucker famously said: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, but to act with yesterday’s logic.”

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Work as fashion
In a “work as fashion” future, employers are in constant motion as they chase worker sentiments, competitor actions, and marketplace dynamics. The worker-employer relationship is REACTIVE: Employers feel compelled to respond in the moment to workers’ expressed preferences, and to competitor moves, without connecting those actions to a sustainable workforce strategy.
The “work as fashion” future is transitory and constantly changing. It’s akin to how brands introduce new clothing collections seasonally and cyclically, moving them rapidly from runway to retail to capture consumers’ fleeting attention and desires. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle in which the latest trends substitute for a sustained strategy. Even an employer’s stance on societal issues is used primarily as a way to attract, retain, and motivate workers, adopting the purpose that’s currently hot in a bid to keep the workforce engaged.

Conditions that could lead to the “work as fashion” future
A “work as fashion” future could arise from the convergence of low talent supply and low government impact.

A low talent supply creates a seller’s market for workers, especially for skilled workers. Workers can base their choice of employer on what each is offering and how well those offerings meet their immediate desires. Employers, meanwhile, become acutely attuned to their workforce’s preferences, as well as what their competitors are doing, to compete for workers’ attention and approval. It’s a mirror image of the “war between talent” future, in which workers compete for employers’ attention and approval.
Low talent supply is already a reality in many industries and geographies today. A Korn Ferry analysis estimated a global talent deficit of 85.2 million workers by 2030, predicting a skills shortage that could result in US$8.452 trillion in unrealized annual revenue.13 Many companies large and small are struggling to find enough workers amid the economy’s rapid recovery from the pandemic-spawned recession.14 A recent study in Japan revealed that 79% of Japanese companies are concerned about the shortage of talent.15 In the United States, there were 8.1 million vacant job openings in March 2021—a record high. Further exacerbating the problem, the study showed that there were approximately half as many available workers per open job when compared to a historical 20-year average.16

Low government impact can also help create the conditions for this future. When government does not offer support that workers feel they need, such as access to health care, workplace protections, and reskilling opportunities, workers will expect employers to provide what they’re not getting elsewhere—and because they have the upper hand, they are in a position to demand it.

We see Work as Fashion as possibly 2021’s and 2022’s dominant future, especially in light of the hotly debated issue of the return to the workplace. A case in point: After initially planning to mandate an “office-first” environment as the pandemic subsides, Amazon now says that it will allow most office workers to work remotely two days a week. It’s likely that this move reflects the fact that flexibility has become “table stakes in tech, where competition for talent is always fierce.”17 These types of situations led a recent New York Times article to observe, “For the first time in a generation, workers are gaining the upper hand.”18

Signals that the future could be headed toward “work as fashion”
Increased employer reliance on worker surveys and other listening tools.
Increased employer activity in measuring themselves against competitor and industry benchmarks, and of adjusting practices to align to benchmarks.
Continuous changing and rollout of worker programs and policies.
Increased external marketing of worker incentives.
New levels of social activism from employers.
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Navigating the “work as fashion” future

The instinctive response
The instinctive response in a “work as fashion” future is to be highly responsive—constantly listening to workers and reacting at speed. But this approach can mislead employers into substituting responsiveness for a relationship. A productive long-term relationship between workers and employers must have a deeper basis than responding to the loudest and most recent voice. Transitory solutions can create several risks, including:

• What matters first may trump what matters most. Moving too quickly to address worker sentiment doesn’t allow employers time to explore deeper root causes behind workers’ expressed feelings and needs. For instance, if employers treat meaning and purpose mainly as an attraction and retention tool, they may overlook that what workers are actually looking for is consistency and a more sustained commitment. They may also miss the opportunity to use purpose to cultivate belonging among the workforce and thereby improve their performance.

Case in point: Ping-pong tables
Despite the popularity over the past decade of bringing ping pong tables into the workplace as a means to build a fun workplace culture, less than a quarter of millennials surveyed at the height of this trend said that an informal work environment is extremely important to them when looking for a job. Instead, the group favored other factors such as the opportunity to learn and grow, the quality of their manager or management, and their interest in the type of work.19

Diverse voices are drowned out. Employers who prioritize speed of response may not take the time to examine whether the way they collect and interpret their data promotes an equitable environment. Many people hold unconscious biases that reinforce prevailing but discriminatory social values, and this may affect the way they develop and execute organizational workforce strategies. In many organizations, diverse individuals are underrepresented to begin with. Listening efforts may not be designed to adequately capture their views. And even if employers manage to avoid this difficulty, diverse populations’ views may be ignored as outliers if they systematically diverge from those of the majority.
Listening becomes surveillance. Using technology to understand the workforce may cross the line into worker surveillance, raising potential risks around data privacy. The pandemic may have increased this risk by accelerating employers’ adoption of listening and monitoring tools. More than one out of four companies purchased new technology during the pandemic to passively track and monitor their workers,20 and 95% of IT leaders increased the frequency of worker listening since COVID-19 began.21
Differentiation gets lost in competition. Trying to match or one-up competitors’ actions can devolve into a copycat strategy that results in a race to the middle or, even worse, the bottom. And when every employer is matching what competitors are doing to “make the sale” to workers, their offerings lack differentiation. Worker loyalty may last only until someone else offers them incrementally more compensation, training, or other incentives that have come to be commodities.
The survive strategy
Employers in a “work as fashion” future will need to go beyond simple responsiveness to gain a competitive edge. Survival in this future entails being thoughtful, action-oriented, and selective. Ways to accomplish this include:

Dig deeper. Ask nuanced questions that get at more basic issues of concern to the workforce than their desires in the moment. In our 2020 Global Human Capital Trends research, we discussed the importance of asking better questions that guide organizations to better results. Examples of those questions include why workers leave, not just who might leave; whether diverse populations wield organizational influence, not just whether the population is diverse; and how workers across the entire workforce ecosystem are treated, not just how full-time employees are treated.22
Walk the talk. In a “work as fashion” future, workers want to see that their employer is actually doing what it has promised them, not just talking about it. A June 2021 survey of US workers found that 55% felt that leadership only addressed racial justice by writing or speaking about it, not by taking action.23 Leaders should be prepared to highlight the organization’s actions in areas that have been identified for changes, clearly communicating what the priorities are and how the organization is addressing them now. This could be a significant challenge for organizations, with 80% of respondents in our executive focus groups saying that leadership readiness will be the biggest internal barrier to their ability to achieve their future strategies.
Focus empowerment where it matters most. Most workers want to be empowered where it matters most, which is in the work they do and how to advance their careers. By providing internal mobility via opportunity marketplaces, employers may be able to satisfy workers’ desire for empowerment by putting them in control of their careers. As the 2020 Deloitte-MIT Future of the workforce study noted, “One of the most significant research takeaways for top management is that opportunity marketplaces both demand and elicit agency—the perceived ability to influence one’s future—and fundamentally flip a perennial top talent and workforce management question.”24
Case in point: Giving workers agency through an opportunity marketplace
Schneider Electric decided to implement an internal opportunity marketplace when it found that almost half the employees who left the organization did so because they felt it was difficult for them to find future growth opportunities within the company. The marketplace is used not to dictate career paths but to enable employees to take the initiative and own their careers. According to Andrew Saidy, Schneider’s vice president of Talent Digitization, Employer Branding and University Relations: “We’ve always told our employees that they own their careers, that they are in the driver’s seat.”25 Besides surfacing reskilling and upskilling opportunities, the company’s AI-based platform can guide workers to projects that align with their own purpose and goals.26

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The thrive differentiator
Being thoughtful and selective in responding to worker needs is necessary, but it’s not sufficient to thrive in this future. For that, employers need to build a sustainable and differentiated worker-employer relationship built around a core set of ideals that are important to both the worker and the employer. A sustainable relationship is one that lasts through shifts in worker sentiment and marketplace conditions, evolving with the times but always tying back to fundamentally constant values. And a differentiated relationship is one that is uniquely tailored to appeal to the workers the organization most needs to engage, regardless of what competitors are doing.

Waste Management is an example of an organization that is successfully considering its workers’ broader needs. Most recently, the company has demonstrated this by focusing on a perennially important issue: the ability to pay for a college education. After hearing from their employees how much of a burden this was, Waste Management launched “Your Tomorrow,” an education and upskilling program in partnership with Guild Education, in April 2021. Not only does the program offer the company’s nearly 36,000 US employees access to more than 170 fully funded programs—including undergraduate and graduate degrees, short-term technology and business certificates, and high school completion27—but the company is planning to expand it to cover its employees’ nearly 34,000 benefits-eligible dependents, including children and spouses, as well. As Tamla Oates-Forney, chief people officer for Waste Management, said, “It didn’t take long for us as a company to realize that [extending “Your Tomorrow” to families as well as employees] would be a key differentiator for us”: a commitment to workers that is an enduring part of the organization’s style.28

A sustainable, differentiated relationship is only partly about benefits, policies, and programs. Rather, it extends the consideration of worker needs to the broader workforce experience. Everything from well-being, personal and professional growth, and meaningful work is on the table. The relationship also can’t be one-sided. For an employer to be able to address the entire workforce experience, it needs to have an ongoing conversation with workers about what is important to them and why it matters. The point is to engage workers in a dialogue that gives the employer insight into what truly drives them, and that gives workers a meaningful voice about these deeper values.

In a “work as fashion” future, the pressures to respond and keep up with the pack can lead to an organization chasing its own tail as it instinctively responds to workers’ immediate requests and desires. Going past that entails being deliberate about where to invest in the employer brand, and creating a sustainable, differentiated relationship that grounds the worker-employer relationship in consistent and mutually valued ideals. Doing this makes an employer a trend setter in a world of fashion followers. As actress Lauren Hutton observed: “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. Style is what you choose.”


10 Ways Companies Are Fighting The Burnout Epidemic

Stress and burnout were on the rise before COVID, but the pandemic has made things much worse.

Workers are now more than three times as likely to report mental health concerns than before the pandemic.
We’re stressed, but we’re not taking time off. In 2020, American workers left 33% of their paid time off unused while the average workday increased by 49 minutes.
Burnout seeps into every aspect of an employee’s personal and professional life, causing symptoms like lack of motivation, increased mistakes, poor sleep habits, disconnection from family and friends, irritability and much more. A staggering 76% of employees say that workplace stress affects their mental health with depression or anxiety.
When people are burnt out, every part of their lives suffers. And even for a problem as personal as burnout, companies have the responsibility to assist their employees.

Here are 10 ways companies can fight the burnout epidemic:

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1 . Provide Mental Health Resources

Breaking the stigma about mental health is crucial to fighting burnout. AT&T offers mental health assistance to employees through text, email or phone. Unilever offers in-person meditation and mindfulness workshops and mental health training for managers. Chevron makes self-guided resilience resources available to all employees, and TIAA offers monthly mental health challenges to all employees.

2 . Increase Mental Health Coverage

In addition to office resources is professional mental health treatment. Companies like ZenDesk and EY have expanded benefits to cover mental health or provided employees with free or discounted access to teletherapy. In the early days of COVID, Starbucks expanded its mental health coverage for employees and their families.

3 . Check In With Employees

Taking interest in employees is a simple but incredibly effective way to fight burnout and build connections. Investment firm BlackRock conducts pulse surveys to understand the stressors and needs of its employees. That information helps drive programs and policies to meet their needs and fight burnout.

4 . Offer Mental Breaks

Celebrating rest and giving employees a chance to recharge and socialize can break the burnout bubble. Design firm Smart Design runs lunchtime virtual happy hours, known as midday mental breaks, to encourage employees to step away from work and socialize, even if they’re working remotely. Companies like Cisco and Ben & Jerry’s provide places in the office for employees to take short naps during the day.

5 . Cut Back On Meetings

Meetings are notorious for bogging down employees’ schedules and leading to stress and overwhelm. Video company Storyblocks implemented No-Meeting Wednesdays to give employees time to work without interruptions. PR firm Highwire has a goal to purge 30% of meetings and shorten all necessary meetings.

6 . Offer Flexible Schedules

As offices reopen, many companies are allowing employees to adopt permanent hybrid or flexible schedules to give them more freedom. Atlassian recently announced that employees can work from home permanently, as did Facebook, Reddit and Skillshare. Other companies are adopting a hybrid approach, including Amazon, Nationwide and Dropbox.

7 . Change The Expectation To Be Constantly Available

Encouraging employees to not always be connected gives them the freedom to take breaks as their needs arise and step away from work at the end of the day. Companies like WATT Global Media and JL Buchanan use a results-only work environment, where performance matters more than hours worked. Other companies are offering more flexibility for working parents and caregivers to adjust their schedules.

8 . Offer Additional Time Off

After a stressful year, many employees just need additional time off. Dating app Bumble recently announced it is giving all of its 700-plus employees a paid week off to help with burnout. Microsoft is giving employees an additional five days off in 2021 to rest and recharge.

9 . Offer Company-Wide Wellness Days

Large companies, including LinkedIn, Marriott and Shopify are shutting the offices down for days or weeks to give employees time for self-care. Shopify’s “Rest and Refuel Fridays” started during peak pandemic and continue in 2021 with Fridays off in July and August. Mozilla is shutting down its entire company for a “Wellness Week” in addition to its “Wellness Days” that are companywide days off once a month through 2021.

10 . Pay Employees To Take Time Off

Many employees are hesitant to take time off, so some companies are offering incentives. In addition to their normal pay, PwC pays employees to take time off, up to $250 for a full week off. Full Contact gives employees $7,500 a year to take a vacation—but they actually have to disconnect and enjoy it without working.

The burnout epidemic has been brewing for years across America, but it has reached a fever pitch after more than a year of a pandemic. All employers have the responsibility to consider their employees’ mental health and provide tools, resources and policies to fight burnout.


A New Category Emerges: The Creator Platform For Corporate Learning

Many of you have heard me talk about TikTok as a learning platform, and you probably thought I was talking about the entertaining videos. No, it’s much more. TikTok is not just entertainment, it’s a Creator Platform.

TikTok development tools are amazing. Today millions of young people (and old) are building interactive videos, extravaganzas of music, and all sorts of dance, entertainment, simulation, and promotion. And TikTok is addicting: it has one of the stickiest interfaces on the internet, which is exactly what we want our learning platforms to do.

The tech pundits are all frothy about the Creator Economy now. TikTok has set in place billions of dollars of investment in platforms like Spotify (podcasts), Snapchat, Clubhouse, Patreon, Substack, and hundreds more. These are not just development tools, they’re entire platforms. You can quickly create content, publish it in seconds, and almost immediately interact with your audience. For wannabe influencers and celebrities, it’s a gold mine. And the venture capitalists are piling in.

Why are these so good for investors? If you start building content in one of these platforms you’re “locked in,” so the platform vendor can start taking a piece of your revenue. So this market is going to explode, and we’re all going to have to decide which Creator Platforms we want to use. (Mark Zuckerberg, never to let a good idea get away from him, is putting $1 Billion to help draw creators to Facebook’s copycat products.)

In my case, I’ve been a Creator since the early 2000s, when we first started creating PDF reports and studies. Since then we’ve been experimenting with lots of these tools, and they are getting easier to use by the second. Platforms like Loom, Captivate, Castos and hundreds of others make you a producer in only a few minutes.

And now it’s coming to corporate learning.

Why Corporate Learning Needs A Creator Platform

Corporate learning desperately needs a creator platform. Why? Because at least 70% of all training in your company comes from your own people, not professional teachers or instructional designers. When you “unlock” these subject matter experts and various people to build content, your training experience is supercharged. And now that these tools are easier than ever, it’s time for you to jump in.

We are doing a lot of case studies in this area, so stay tuned for much more. But for now let me mention a few because these companies are redefining the market.

The first I want to point out is 360Learning, a company founded precisely for this purpose. 360Learning is perhaps the most compelling system for employees to build, launch, manage, and interact with their learners. The company was founded to go after this market, and its success has been stratospheric. The French Railroad SNCF, for example, uses 360Learning for hundreds of courses in operations, safety, and compliance – all built by employees. The IDEA Public Schools network, a 120+ school network all over Texas and the southeast, now uses 360Learning for its New Teacher Institute and all its professional development. And the results are outstanding.

360Learning, by the way, exemplifies what I call the next generation of Collaborative Learning. Read more about it here.

The second I want to mention is Fuse Universal, a company that started life as a video sharing system. Fuse customers like Hilti and Vodafone are building hundreds of instructional videos and sharing them instantly with employees. These companies barely set standards for employees and they create competitions for who can build the best video (just like TikTok). Fuse is also an explosively fast-growing company, and has defined “video learning at scale.” (Vendors like WiseTail also do this.)

The third is another firecracker company: Udemy. Udemy’s platform is designed to develop courses, and anyone can sit down and build a course in a few hours. As soon as you publish it many thousands of people can access it, so the results can be invigorating. Many Instructors on Udemy now make millions of dollars per year, and the Udemy course library is the most dynamic, up-to-date, and relevant one in the market. And since the Creator Platform of Udemy has voting by users, it, like TikTok, it always shows you the best content.

And Udemy, unlike any other provider in the market, is truly a marketplace. Just as Airbnb disrupted Marriott, Udemy has the potential to disrupt many traditional course publishers.

The fourth is a fast-growing company Docebo, which is now one of the biggest LMS companies in the market (valuation around $2B). Docebo’s new tool Shape lets you instantly build video content, publish it in Docebo, and get feedback from users. It uses AI to help you build highly compelling content, making authoring easy for anyone. Again it’s integrated into the platform, so for revenue-generating programs or custom academies, Docebo is an amazing solution.

The fifth, and perhaps the most disruptive, is Articulate – the pioneer of rapid e-learning tools who just receive over $1 billion in investment funding. Hang onto your hats as Articulate becomes a Creator platform too, and it may be the easiest to use yet.

Of course there are hundreds of development tools, from STRIVR and Mursion in VR to Lectora, Gomo, and others. But as I discuss below, they’re not “Creator Platforms,” and they’re not designed for end-users.

Is your LXP or LMS a Creator Platform? Not really. It’s more like a publishing system (like Sharepoint or Viva Learning). It lets you “publish” content you developed elsewhere, but it’s nowhere as integrated as these systems. (LXP vendors here’s an opportunity for you.)

What To Look For In Creator Platforms

In many ways, this market has been around for a long time. SumTotal, Click2Learn, and Saba launched integrated development tools in the 2000s, and products like Adobe Captivate, Brainshark, Lessonly, and others have been out for years. But many of these tools were built for instructional designers, not end-users, and they don’t have the same integrated platform. In today’s Creator Platform market, I”d look for the following:

Does the platform immediately let authors interact with learners, build quizzes and interactivities, and serve their users at scale?
How easy is it to build highly compelling content, and can you “walk up and learn” the tool without training?
What kind of administration tools do authors have? Can they sort and filter through their audience, see how long people are spending on different chapters, and analyze their programs for improvement?
Are there advanced features like Skills tagging, Credentials, Badges, Pre-Requisites, and Curricula? These systems fill up with content fast, so you have to organize it in some rational way.
How is the product priced? Can we buy it for all our users and deploy it at scale? (The consumer Creator Platforms are terrible at this, by the way. They charge too much.)
What kind of security and admin rights are available? Can an administrator quickly find inappropriate content or shut down content that’s no good?
How advanced is video and content management? Does it transcribe video and code it for speed? Does the platform work on mobile? Can you quickly add new modules and version the content you have?
Should you worry about end-users publishing corporate content? My answer is no. Let the internal creator market thrive. Companies like Hilti, Vodafone, SNCF, IDEA Schools Network, and dozens of others we’re interviewing all told us that employees and subject matter experts love to publish what they’ve learned.

You have to set standards and help people avoid boring PowerPoint content, but once you get the ball rolling, the results take off. Hilti, for example, does all its sales and service training in this fashion. IDEA Public Schools created its New Teacher Institute for more than 1,500 teachers entirely through this approach. Instead of authoring content, you become the curator, organizer, and coach to others, showing people how to share what they know.

We are publishing case studies now, and the stories we’re finding are amazing. This next year is the year of the Creator Platform for Learning, and we’re excited to show you the way.


Economic Resilience Is Built on Societal Well-Being

One of the biggest lessons COVID-19 taught governments is that societal well-being makes countries more resilient. Nations that invest across a range of development dimensions—such as education, health, infrastructure, and governance—have been better able to cushion the socioeconomic fallout from the pandemic. Our analysis shows that countries with improved abilities to convert wealth into well-being as well as those with high overall well-being tended to mitigate drops in economic performance and limit the growth of unemployment rates during the first year of the pandemic. In contrast, countries with lower levels have fallen further behind, particularly in GDP growth and employment. This aligns with our previous research that shows countries better at converting wealth into well-being were able to recover more quickly from the 2008–2009 financial crisis.

Since 2012, BCG has ranked countries according to a proprietary economic development tool called the Sustainable Economic Development Assessment, or SEDA. (See “A Comprehensive Measure of Well-Being.”) A consistent finding from our research is that the more traditional metrics of economic development, which focus on GDP and other macroeconomic indicators, are not sufficient to gauge the true state of development in any society. Rather, countries need to take a more comprehensive and sustainable approach that incorporates and optimizes societal well-being. Viewed through this lens, SEDA analyses have shown that some lower-income countries are actually better off than high-income countries because they look beyond economic metrics and invest in well-being more broadly. COVID-19 brought in a new dimension—an opportunity to observe how such efforts make countries more resilient in a crisis.

Even as countries continue fighting the pandemic, they need to think long-term and make investments today that will lead to faster and more sustainable progress during the coming recovery. Specifically, we believe that three overarching themes have the potential to generate positive change across multiple well-being dimensions: accelerating actions to slow climate change, investing in digitization, and strengthening social protection systems to ensure inclusive and equitable growth. Each of these themes should be a priority for governments.

COVID-19 has left an unprecedented mark on global development. The United Nations Development Programme’s simulations of the pandemic’s real-time impact suggest that the Human Development Index fell in 2020, for the first time since measurements began in 1990. Similarly, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be significantly disrupted and many of the historic gains over the past several decades could be reversed, at least temporarily.

At a country level, the pandemic revealed the way that all realms of society are interconnected. Evolving from a health crisis to an economic and education crisis, COVID-19 has led to rising social tensions, high unemployment, and failing health systems, even in high-income countries. In low-income and developing countries, inequality has increased across several realms.

Income. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that income inequality for emerging-market and developing economies will rise to levels not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, essentially wiping out a decade of development in these regions.
Health. Disparities in access to health services—due to factors such as income, race, gender, and resident status—have widened the gap in life expectancy, accentuating the vulnerability of disadvantaged groups within poorer countries.
Education. According to UN data, close to 1.5 billion students have been affected by COVID-19-related school closures. Inadequate internet penetration has hampered lower-income countries’ ability to pivot to distance learning and likely exacerbated education inequality both within and between countries.
The pandemic has reinforced the need for governments to look beyond income growth and GDP and focus on the broader goal of overall well-being.

It’s too early to measure the full response of any country to COVID-19, but early indications suggest that countries with high SEDA scores—indicating higher levels of societal well-being—will suffer less of an impact. Indeed, well-being served as a form of stabilizer, enabling countries to absorb the shock and potentially positioning them to bounce back more quickly once the crisis ends. In our analysis, we looked at two leading economic indicators: economic growth and employment.

In terms of economic growth, countries which improved their ability to convert wealth into well-being since the global financial crisis, saw a smaller drop in their real GDP growth rate in 2020, while countries that have experienced a deterioration in their ability to convert wealth into well-being saw a correspondingly larger drop. (See Exhibit 1.) This reveals that investing in well-being enhances long term resilience and can further enhance a nation’s ability to withstand future crises. Notably, the countries that experienced the biggest drop in GDP also underperformed significantly in SEDA measurements of governance and civil society, suggesting that these are key dimensions in fighting the pandemic’s economic repercussions. Governance is critical because it boosts transparency and accountability, leading to greater public trust in government and increasing participation and engagement of citizens. Civil society matters because it helps countries deal with the unequal fallout from a crisis—for example, providing support and aid to those who are disproportionately affected.

The positive correlation between wealth, as reflected in per capita income levels, and SEDA scores should come as no surprise. After all, income affects well-being in many ways. At the same time, well-being is not simply a function of income. Many countries at similar income levels have significant disparities in well-being.

In terms of employment, we saw a similar effect. Countries that had high SEDA scores were better able to cushion the blow of COVID-19 and limit the growth of unemployment. (See Exhibit 2.) Many of these countries already had measures in place to increase the resilience of labor markets—such as unemployment safety nets and job retention schemes. Even in cases where the labor market policies needed to be adjusted, doing so was a faster process than creating them from scratch. A stubborn question remains as to whether retention schemes will lead to a stronger labor recovery once the pandemic ends; to some extent, that depends on whether they support jobs that have been temporarily at risk but are still viable in the long term.

Even as countries continue to face immediate priorities in addressing the crisis, they must reset their ambitions for the future. In fact, severe shocks like COVID-19 present a real opportunity to spring forward and introduce broad reforms toward the goal of overall societal well-being. Regardless of their past performance, governments should seek to leverage the current hardships to reimagine and realign policy imperatives across the full range of SEDA dimensions. From our analysis, we believe that three themes can have a multiplier effect in increasing well-being and thus should be at the top of government agendas.

Accelerate Actions to Slow Climate Change.

The pandemic is estimated to have driven a 5% to 10% drop in CO2 emissions in 2020. That may seem promising as a temporary relief, but compared with the change in trajectory required to slow global warming, it is a mere blip. As the economic cycle resumes momentum, governments and societies have a unique opportunity to accelerate climate-related actions and build a green recovery. Previous recessions have led to an increased adoption of renewable energy sources and battery technologies. In fact, citizens expect governments to tackle climate change as part of COVID-19 recovery efforts. In a BCG survey of more than 3,200 corporate leaders, 77% of respondents say that companies receiving public aid or grants due to the pandemic should take on additional environmental responsibilities and commitments. A recent analysis by the International Energy Agency and the IMF found that a well-structured green recovery plan could lead to an increase in global GDP of 3.5% over the next three years and create 9 million jobs over the same period.

Indeed, some nations are intensifying their investments in environmental well-being. While countries that are already leading in SEDA environmental performance tend to be doubling down on a green recovery, other countries that are not environmental frontrunners have also passed recovery packages with a substantial share of investments targeted at environmental objectives. (See Exhibit 3.) This suggests that these countries see the crisis as an opportunity to accelerate their sustainability efforts.

For example, India’s green stimulus measures include investment in biogas and cleaner fuels, incentives for high-efficiency solar, and advanced battery production. South Korea’s “New Deal,” in addition to focusing on digitization, prioritizes initiatives that support a green transition, including investments in renewables and R&D funding for electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries. China’s green efforts entail substantial funding for EVs and related infrastructure, railway infrastructure development, and electricity transmission. In addition, China—the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases—recently pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and the European Union has strengthened its commitments under the Paris Agreement by pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.

Despite these promising early signs, further action will be required. To stay on track to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, roughly 1% to 3% of global GDP will need to be allocated to climate-change initiatives. To build a green recovery and accelerate actions to slow climate change, governments should focus on four actions.

Hardwire sustainability into stimulus spending. Focus investments on both decarbonizing existing sectors (for example, industrials and energy) and spurring growth in new green sectors such as green hydrogen. Include incentives and regulatory standards, such as sustainability targets and carbon disclosure requirements, in stimulus packages.
Create green jobs and prepare for job transitions. Prioritize investments and programs based not on their absolute job creation potential but on the number of jobs created in the green sector. Manage an equitable transition of the workforce toward a zero-carbon economy. Actively invest in reskilling programs to train workers who are displaced.
Partner with the private sector. To alleviate fiscal constraints, access private funding through structures such as public-private partnerships. Capitalize on the growth in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing and integrate ESG factors into investment processes.
Coordinate across borders. Partner with other national and regional governments on climate initiatives to make faster progress. The UN’s COP26 climate conference, which has been rescheduled for November 2021, will be a key milestone in monitoring progress toward the Paris Agreement. With representatives from nearly 200 countries, it also provides an opportunity to step up global momentum in forwarding a green recovery from the pandemic.
Invest in Digitization as an Enabler and Amplifier of Well-Being.

Done right, digitization can help countries manage shocks in the short term and keep economies running. In the medium to long run, it can help developing and emerging economies leapfrog developed nations, accelerating human capital development, industry competitiveness, and access to global markets. Indeed, our previous analysis shows that digital infrastructure increases the ability to convert wealth into well-being at lower income levels; that is, its spillover impact on other well-being dimensions such as employment, education, and governance is particularly significant for developing countries.

Several countries have successfully integrated digital technologies into their crisis response; for example, by using mobile apps to trace transmission chains, register populations for vaccines, increase collaboration, and provide community support. Looking ahead, the pandemic has made clear that the future will be even more digital than previously imagined. Many of the behavioral shifts we are experiencing today, such as online grocery shopping and working from home, are expected to endure beyond the crisis.

Specifically, countries should focus on the following priorities.

Bridge the digital divide. As evidenced by those who have been disproportionately affected by school closures and the move to telework and telehealth, digital inequality tends to exacerbate existing social inequality. At the foundational level, countries need to ensure the provision of universal, reliable, and stable connection to the internet. Equally critical to safeguarding connectivity is bridging the access gap. COVID-19 has exposed the hardware divide, in which availability of devices (smartphones, PCs, laptops, tablets) and peripheral services (apps and subscriptions) dictates the extent to which people are able to leverage critical digital services such as e-learning. Furthermore, digital inclusion policies need to be multidimensional—promoting digital literacy, enhancing technological competence, and fostering the effective use of technologies to promote fruitful participation in the digital economy. As Exhibit 4 shows, there is a correlation between a country’s digital inclusion performance (as measured by the Network Readiness Index) and how well it converts wealth into well-being.
Leverage digital to build more resilient cities. Curbing the spread of COVID-19 has tested the capabilities of urban environments. City resilience will continue to be the main buffer against inevitable shocks, particularly as the 70% the world’s population will live in metropolitan areas by 2050. Big data’s role in smart city platforms will be essential in responding to future disasters in real time.
Digital government. Governments must continue to expand their digital capabilities with a citizen-centric mindset, as delivering simpler, more seamless, and faster government services becomes increasingly important. By harnessing both the human and technological elements of their organizations, governments can provide positive outcomes for citizens.
Strike the right balance between data accessibility and privacy.COVID-19 has shown the enormous potential for governments to use and leverage citizen data. Yet this raises important ethical and legal questions. Governments need to safeguard information while instilling high ethical standards for its utilization. For instance, by creating data-sharing frameworks that put in place data use guardrails, governments can support accessibility and adoption without compromising privacy.
Establish Social Protection and Welfare Systems to Ensure Sustainable and Equitable Growth.

Social protection systems can dramatically mitigate the impact of crises like COVID-19, particularly for vulnerable populations who have been disproportionally impacted. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number and scope of social protection initiatives has been unprecedented. Overall, as of December 2020, approximately $590 billion (or nearly 1% of worldwide GDP) had been pledged toward more than 1,500 specific measures in 209 countries. More than half of these were for new programs or benefits. (See Exhibit 5.) Many countries prioritized benefits for workers and their dependents along with benefits for poor or vulnerable populations.

Despite these efforts, however, many social protection schemes still fall short. According to research from the UN’s International Labour Organization, 55% of the global population has no form of social protection. About 40% of people have no access to health insurance or national health systems, and only 20% can count on unemployment benefits.

There is a clear need for future-proof welfare systems, which should not only act as an immediate cushion during a crisis but also make countries more resilient and equip them to transition to more sustainable economic growth. It is crucial, therefore, that governments treat the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to rethink their approach to social protection. Rather than a safety net for vulnerable populations, these programs should serve as a trampoline, empowering citizens to be more socially and economically adaptive. The right approach will reduce inequalities, strengthen human capital, and contribute to long-term productivity.

To that end, governments should focus on the following priorities in revamping social protection systems.

Institutionalize successes. Identify which of the programs launched in response to COVID-19 functioned best and make them permanent. Cut or modify other programs as needed.
Increase financial sustainability. Look beyond one-time stimulus spending packages to make programs—particularly basic protection measures—that will be viable over the long term.
Collaborate across stakeholders. Design programs to draw on support from government, business, and citizens.
Use digital delivery channels that are fast and cost-effective in interacting with participants and delivering benefits.
The pandemic has served as a forced experiment in testing countries’ resilience, and as our analysis shows, the results are clear. Societal well-being not only helps countries during good times; it also makes them more resilient during crises. The SEDA framework is a powerful tool for governments to assess and track their progress in this realm and identify specific policy interventions that will comprehensively improve the well-being of their populations. By focusing on the three overarching themes we identified—slowing climate change, fostering inclusive digitization, and enhancing social protection—countries can capitalize on multiplier effects and accelerate overall progress.