Employees want business to have a social conscience, but are employers listening?

In BICSI Bytes by info@bicsi.com.au

Despite the high expectations from Millennials around corporate social responsibility and the emerging link between social impact and companies’ financial performance, only 23% of Australian respondents in the latest Deloitte Human Capital Trends report say social responsibility is a top priority reflected in their corporate strategy, while 53% say it’s not a focus for them.


The report, which takes input from over 11,000 businesses around the world, shows how the workplace is changing to become more personalised and connected, with formal hierarchies breaking down and being replaced by networks of teams. It also highlights a profound shift facing business leaders in Australia and around the world: the rapid rise of what Deloitte calls the ‘social enterprise’.


“Society’s expectations of business are changing,” said David Brown, Deloitte Human Capital Leader. “The focus is now clearly on business’ role in society as a driver of change.


“In the past, we’ve measured business performance on financials and quality of products or services. Today, social capital is just as important as – and inextricably linked to – human, financial and physical capital. Companies’ reputation, relevance and bottom-lines increasingly hinge on their ability to act as good citizens and influence pressing public issues.


“With increased transparency and social awareness, business focus is shifting towards stronger relationships with employees, customers and communities. Organisations today are judged for more than their success as a business. They’re now being held responsible for their impact on society at large – their role as a social enterprise.

“This year’s report is a wake-up call for organisations to look beyond their own four walls, cultivate these relationships in a meaningful way and reimagine their approach to their workforce – and their broader role in society – if they want to succeed.”


Connectivity is key in the future workforce, but is Australia ready?

The report also found that in preparing for the workforce of the future, 90% of Australian businesses jointly ranked a connected workplace as one of their top priorities. Yet only 38% respectively indicated a readiness to tackle this challenge.

“Australian businesses are clearly prioritising connectivity, but the scale of the challenge and the pace at which change is occurring is perhaps making businesses feel underprepared,” continued Brown. “We’re seeing communication tools traditionally used for social purposes being embraced in the workplace and the lines between personal and business identities blurring.


“The more connected an organisation is, the more important what it says becomes. Employees want their workplaces to represent them and their values externally, as much as their own profile and social media presence does. This demographic wants business to focus more on people, products and purpose and less on profits.”


The 10 human capital trends for 2018 are:


1.      The hyper-connected workplace: will productivity reign?

As communication tools like instant messaging and social media migrate from personal life to the workplace, organisations are challenged to actually improve organisational, team and individual performance and promote the necessary collaboration for the organisation to truly become a social enterprise. 40% of Australian respondents say they expect face-to-face meetings and phone calls (31%) will decrease in the near future. To replace them, 68% predict an increase in instant messaging and 79% an increase in online collaboration platforms.


2.      The Symphonic C-suite: teams leading teams

The Symphonic C-suite is the next stage in the evolution of leadership models, in which the organisation’s top executives play together as a team, while also leading their own functional teams, all in harmony. Australian leaders appear to be better at collaborating than their global counterparts.


3.      From careers to experiences: new pathways

The concept of a career is evolving towards a model that empowers individuals to acquire valuable experiences, explore new roles and continually reinvent themselves. Despite traditional career models becoming defunct in the new workplace, the report found that 54% of business leaders surveyed globally have no programs in place to build the skills of the future.


4.      People data: how far is too far?

Organisations face a tipping-point: develop well-defined policies, security safeguards, transparency measures and ongoing communication around the use of people data, or risk employee, customer and societal backlash. Encouragingly, 56% of Australian respondents say moderate to strong people data management policies are in place.


5.      Wellbeing: a strategy and a responsibility

As the line between work and play continues to blur, employees are demanding benefits include a wide range of programs for physical, mental, financial and spiritual health. Employers are investing in wellbeing programs as both a social-responsibility and a talent strategy. 39% of Australian respondents say they offer comprehensive wellbeing programs, including mindfulness, life balance and financial fitness.


6.      Citizenship and social impact: society holds the mirror

An organisation’s track record on corporate citizenship and social impact now has a direct bearing on its core identity and strategy. Engagement with external stakeholders on topics such as diversity, gender pay equity, income inequality, immigration and climate change can lift financial performance and brand value, while failure to engage can destroy reputation and alienate key audiences.


7.      AI, robotics, automation: putting humans in the loop

While 75% of Australian companies see AI, robotics and automation as important, only 23% feel ready to navigate associated changes. Leading organisations recognise that to maximise value from new technologies, they need to find ways for humans to work alongside robots – reconstructing work, retraining people and rearranging the organisation. The greatest opportunity isn’t just to redesign jobs or automate routine work, but to fundamentally re-think ‘how work works’ to benefit employers, teams and individuals (just 5% of Australian respondents say they do this).


8.      The longevity dividend: work in an era of 100-year lives

Forward-thinking organisations see population ageing as an opportunity to employ highly skilled workers. Yet only 8% of Australian respondents say they’re partnering with older workers to develop new career models that leverage their expertise.


9.      New rewards: personalise, agile and holistic

Employees are increasingly asking for more personalised, agile and holistic rewards, including fair and open pay. There’s a long way to go – only 6% of Australian respondents say they offer personalised reward programs.


10.   The workforce ecosystem: managing beyond the enterprise

Business needs strategies to engage, manage and retain an increasingly hybrid workforce. Globally, 37% of respondents expect a rise in contractors and 33% an increase in freelancers.