After nearly a year of readjustment, new work-from-home orders in the UK and rising infection rates in the US have reignited talk of remote working. For many, the temporary remote return will reduce financial strains and family obligations as the holidays approach. For others, parallels to last year’s Christmas in isolation will rekindle old anxieties of distance and off-kilter communication.
In this seasonal interlude, companies have the opportunity to reflect on the lessons of recent lockdowns and build a resilient corporate culture for the new year. However, the issues of transparency, career development, purpose and inclusiveness that haunted 2020 still weigh in December 2021, and teams must adapt to provide a better staff experience.
To thrive, today’s and tomorrow’s businesses will need to be different. They will need to think beyond profit, become flexible and really listen to the staff. They will have to understand themselves as part of an interconnected community or ecosystem, like a node in a network. And of course, they’ll also need to have the kind of overall mindset, especially regarding their people, to bring it all together in a cohesive way. Communication, in short, deserves an overhaul.
Wider challenges also loom. The climate emergency is becoming more pressing, the gender gap is widening, digitization is accelerating and employee expectations are changing. New labor demand has allowed staff to challenge their employers on outdated practices or relocate, and pressure is mounting on governments and companies to move beyond the rhetoric without acting on ESG. Driven by the difficulties of the past two years, companies find themselves at a turning point in modern history, with not just a chance but a need do things differently.
By 2022, organizations will explore the fundamental changes needed to stay current with recent trends and put themselves in the best position to bounce back and thrive. The uncertainty of 2020 – exaggerated by distance, reduced collaboration and record staff burnout – has been somewhat tamed, with employers placing a new emphasis on staff well-being and needs. But instead of putting out individual fires, attention must now turn to creating a fundamentally different structure that is dynamic, proactive and resilient to change.
DARE in the world Inclusivity Index diagnostic tool would be the starting point for companies seeking to understand their role in system reform. To deliver the employee experience demanded by the turbulence of the past two years, companies must now explore – and perhaps for the first time – the relationship between inclusiveness and opportunity. The index helps organizations see where their ESG policies hit or miss the mark, and most often the gap between good intentions and bad results.
According to a trend analysis by DARE, communication issues have not been resolved by returning to work. For example, leaders are still 50% more likely than other employees to believe that staff share their company identity, a sign that something more fundamental has gone wrong in connecting with employees and achieving of a common goal. Information like this may be the diagnosis needed for companies to seek treatment.
To stay afloat in 2022, diversity and inclusion cannot be seen as a tick box exercise – and research increasingly reflects this. To retain talent, develop and increase the productivity of existing employees, companies must provide strong leadership informed by broad opinions and team feeling, or be left behind. In the words of Cyrus the Great: diversity in the council, unity in the command.
Consistent with DARE’s findings, the 2020 McKinsey report highlights the relationship between diversity in leadership teams and financial performance and notes the existential threat facing most organizations, which have made little progress in recent years. This is unfortunate, because only five years ago the report showed returns of 35% for companies that led with comprehensive D&I strategies.
Otherwise, flexible and open work cultures that embrace inclusivity across the organization find themselves better prepared to deal with change, innovate, and mend broken communication. According to Deloitte, inclusive workplaces have an easier time recruiting millennials – the group leading the Great Quit – and performance increases dramatically with better representation. These results – centered on listening and transparency – are directly linked to the challenges of control and volatility facing companies today, emerging from the pandemic.
The most successful organizations in the months and years to come will be those that move confidently into a model that celebrates this new and ever-changing reality, that sees business transformation as an ongoing process that must be repeated over and over again. and undertaken.
To get to the heart of the issues of poor communication, high employee turnover, staff satisfaction and vague corporate identity, leaders need to examine where inclusivity leaves them. Much more than can be achieved with a single policy, the new year calls for a comprehensive and holistic strategy to integrate this philosophy into business at all levels.
This exciting possibility can change the business landscape in progressive and creative ways. But it all starts with asking the right questions. The companies that do this and evolve will be the leaders of tomorrow’s world.