C-Suite Leaders Not Collaborating Effectively

With an accelerating rate of change in business, talent shortages and advancing technologies, organizations are transforming how they operate – and that’s making it even more important for senior executives to work as a team. A new report from Deloitte Consulting tackles the subject. Let’s take a closer look.

May 2, 2018 – We are witnessing seismic changes in the workforce, the workplace and the technologies used in the world of work. Amid concerns about automation, the need for new skills, an aging workforce and tightening labor markets, the make-or-break issue facing companies this year is the need for realignment in the C-suite to focus on business’ evolving role in society, according to the 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, “The Rise of the Social Enterprise,” by Deloitte Consulting. “As society grapples with daunting demographic, technological and social challenges, people want business leaders to fill the gap, but our research shows they have a long way to go,” said Erica Volini, principal at Deloitte Consulting.

“This year’s report is a wake-up call for organizations to look beyond their own four walls and reimagine their broader roles in society. Integrating the C-suite to build a more social enterprise will be a differentiator for businesses to attract the right talent, drive customer loyalty and sustain long-term growth,” she said.

With more than 11,000 HR and business leaders weighing in, respondents overwhelmingly pointed to the need for a symphonic C-suite – a team-based, cross-disciplinary approach to tackling complex issues – with 85 percent calling this trend important or very important. Survey results show that companies where C-suite executives regularly collaborate are one-third more likely to be growing 10 percent more than companies whose leadership operates in siloes. Nonetheless, 73 percent of those surveyed said their executives fail to regularly collaborate.

Filling Society’s Leadership Vacuum

Increased transparency and heightened political awareness have drawn widespread attention to business’ role in society as a driver of change, the report said. “Organizations find they are increasingly expected to exercise their ability to do social good, both externally for customers, communities and society, as well as internally for their employees. True social enterprises must take a total stakeholder approach to pressing public issues to maintain reputation and relevancy.”


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With more pressure on businesses to be good citizens and engineer solutions to critical social challenges, citizenship must be a core part of an organization’s identity and mission, said the report. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents cited citizenship as important or very important. According to the “Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017,” Millennials’ high expectations for corporate responsibility is a strong contributor, with 76 percent regarding business as a force for positive social impact. Despite the emerging link between social impact and companies’ financial performance, only 18 percent of respondents said that citizenship is a top priority in corporate strategy. Thirty-four percent have few or poorly funded citizenship programs, and 22 percent are not focused on this at all.

“Corporate citizenship is now a CEO-level strategy and critical to a company’s bottom line,” said Josh Bersin, a principal at Deloitte Consulting. “It’s not about check-the-box CSR initiatives, but integrating citizenship, fairness, inclusion and purpose as core values across work practices. Customers and employees alike are holding companies to higher standards than ever before and rewarding companies who demonstrate socially-conscious behavior with unwavering loyalty.”

Internal and external social forces are also driving attention to the aging global workforce. “Extended life expectancies raise questions on how long careers will last and how aging workers will impact economies and public policy,” the report said. Fifteen percent of survey respondents reported that their organizational perspective is that older employees are getting in the way of rising talent. Despite the aging global workforce and the competitive advantages older talent offers, 49 percent of respondents indicated that their companies have done nothing to help older workers find new careers as they age, and another 15 percent said older workers are viewed as an impediment to rising talent.


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As constituencies look to how companies treat their own employees, tackling the alternative workforce takes center stage for socially-conscious organizations. By 2020, 37 percent of organizations said they expect a growth in contractors, 23 percent in freelancers and 13 percent in gig workers. Yet only 16 percent said they have an established set of policies and practices to manage this variety of worker types. The report said that “it is critical to successfully implement hybrid workforce strategies because they can have a significant impact on an organization’s employment brand and external reputation.”

Holistic Approach to Jobs and Careers

Multiple reports over the past year have found that organizations have become focused on how automation-induced job shifts will impact individuals. The Deloitte research showed that more than four in 10 companies believe automation will have a major impact on jobs, and 61 percent are now actively redesigning jobs around AI and robotics. Additionally, 72 percent of HR and business leaders rated the topic of AI as important or very important.

Related: Eight Trends for Recruitment Firms to Heed In Changing Times

Against this backdrop, 47 percent of those surveyed considered building new career models and skills as very important. More than 54 percent said they have no programs in place to build the skills of the future and only 18 percent said they give employees opportunities to develop themselves.

“In addition to investing in employees’ professional development, organizations must also re-think how they invest in their employees on a personal level,” the report said. Forty-three percent of those surveyed said well-being reinforces their organization’s mission, 60 percent said it improves employee retention and 61 percent said it improves productivity and bottom-line results. However, according to Bersin research, only three percent of companies said their reward offerings are very effective at motivating talent.

Related: HR Leaders Cite Retention and Turnover as Top Concerns in 2018

“Personalized incentives and well-being strategies are key differentiators in talent acquisition and retention, particularly in a tight labor market,” said Ms. Volini. “Once-a-year reviews and bonuses are table-stakes in today’s enterprises. Expanding rewards and well-being strategies is critical for the C-suite if they want to attract and retain the right individuals.”

Leveraging Technology

With the deployment of AI, robotics, automation and people analytics showing no signs of slowing down, companies are reconciling a demand for human skills and the need for increased productivity, the Deloitte report said. While 72 percent of respondents saw this area as important, only 31 percent felt ready to address it.


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“Automation is here to stay and will improve scale, speed and quality,” said Brett Walsh, global human capital leader at Deloitte Global. “But it’s important to remember that as routine work is automated, new jobs will be created – jobs that are more service-oriented, interpretive, social and play to our essential human skills. Only companies whose C-suite embraces this transformation and redesign how work gets done to leverage these skills will be able to stay a step ahead of their competition.”

Executives said they anticipate a growing requirement for complex problem-solving (63 percent), cognitive abilities (55 percent) and social skills (52 percent). To that end, 70 percent of respondents said workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms in the future and 67 percent anticipated a growth in “work-based social media.” As a flood of new workplace communications tools augments team-based work, 47 percent of organizations cite the productivity of the hyper connected workforce as a very important issue.

As technology permeates the workplace, people analytics is at the top of executives’ minds, with 84 percent of respondents rating it as important or very important, while only 10 percent of respondents felt very ready to deal with this challenge. With 64 percent of companies actively managing legal liability related to their organization’s people data, only 22 percent have excellent processes to safeguard this data, “exposing them to additional risks that can threaten their status as a social enterprise if not proactively managed,” the Deloitte report said.

Related: Five Ways HR Can Maximize Data and Analytics

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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