Organisations moving to bring meaning back to the workplace, study finds

Role of the “social enterprise” – organisations that place employees, customers and stakeholders at the centre of their decision making – more important than ever, study finds.

Amid rapid technological, economic and social change, it is important for organisations to move beyond mission statements and social impact programs to put humans at the centre of their business strategies.

In its 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, “Leading the social enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus,” Deloitte examines ways organisations can reinvent themselves on a broad scale, including interacting, motivating, and personalising experiences with the workforce to help build identity and meaning for workers.

Completed by nearly 10,000 respondents in 119 countries, including New Zealand, Deloitte’s ninth annual Global Human Capital Trends report is the largest longitudinal survey of its kind.

In the report, respondents said the role of the “social enterprise” – organisations that place employees, customers and stakeholders at the centre of their decision making – is more important now than ever, with respondents noting a positive link between these efforts and an organisation’s financial performance.

However, only 19 per cent of respondents reported being “industry leaders” in their organisation’s maturity as a social enterprise.

Deloitte Human Capital partner Hamish Wilson says last year’s survey results focused on embedding social awareness within an organisational purpose, but what’s missing for many organisations now is the focus on the individual and the day-to-day challenges faced by workers.

“Technology is providing opportunities in all facets of the organisation, but it risks workers losing their identity within the workplace” said Wilson.

“Organisations need to reinvent their approach with the worker in the centre, to personalise the employee experience and create opportunities for continuous learning and development.”

This focus on the workforce comes as more than 91 per cent of New Zealand respondents cited reinventing the way people learn as important or very important – the top trend for 2019 both globally and amongst New Zealand organisations.

Amplifying the need for continuous learning is the ongoing adoption of automation technologies. Instead of “robot-pocolypse”, organisations should consider redesigning work into a new category of “superjobs”, where humans and bots work side by side to improve output and productivity for society and the business, opening up opportunities for mobility, advancement and the rapid adoption of new skills desperately needed today.

“But even as part of the workforce reorganises into superjobs, lower-wage-work across service sectors continues to grow, along with non-traditional contract, freelance, and gig employment – and it is imperative that these jobs are not left behind,” says Mr Wilson.

Other insights from the survey include:

  • Organisations are being challenged to up their game when it comes to the employee experience. This emphasis comes as only 48 percent of New Zealand respondents believed that their organisation’s workers were satisfied or very satisfied with their job design and only 21 percent thought that workers were satisfied or very satisfied with day-to-day work practices.
  • Shifting from “employee experience” to “human experience” requires a different type of leader. Ninety-five percent of New Zealand survey respondents believed that 21st-century leaders face unique challenges and requirements, making it critical for organisations to extend leadership pipelines to find and build leaders from within the organisation.
  • Underlying this shift is the continued reinvention of the traditional hierarchical organisational model. Despite a third of survey respondents reporting that they now mostly operate in teams within a hierarchal framework, most C-suite leaders, tools, cultures and incentives are still struggling to adopt and support the team-based model and need to use data and insights to complete this shift.
  • Organisations are finding themselves in a job-seekers’ market as the war for talent rages on. Leaders should focus on access to skills needed by their organisation rather than acquiring talent, and consider alternative places from which these skills can be sourced – whether it’s through the gig economy, current employees or automation.
  •  With new approaches to talent, the way many organisations compensate and reward workers has fallen out of date. Today, only 11 percent of respondents felt that their rewards systems are highly aligned with their organisational goals and nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) did not feel they know what rewards their employees value.

“This combination of shifts in the work, the workforce, and the organisation have created a new mandate to shape the future of work,” said Wilson.

“An HR team cannot do this alone. The entire organisation, led by a symphonic C-suite, needs to come together to help organisations truly take the lead in the future of work.”

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