Why are trust, equality, and building resilience more critical than ever? How can organizations not only leave their people “net better off,” but also boost organizational performance? Responsible for a global workforce of over 500,000 humans, Accenture’s Chief Leadership & HR Officer, Ellyn Shook, joined Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, People Matters at People Matters TechHR SEA 2021, for an exciting fireside chat on these important questions and how organizations can help their people be future-ready.
Opportunities to reimagine the world post-pandemic
Kick-starting the conversation on what are some of the opportunities to reimagine a post-pandemic world, Ellyn shared what shared with a health crisis quickly turned into a financial crisis, then into a social crisis, and now is looking like a mental health crisis, emergence might look difficult. But we have a true opportunity to learn from this time and emerge stronger. What it means is there are things that we learnt that we really don’t want to go back to some of the old ways. First of all, the crisis has made the world help become more human. It has democratized humanity as people see each other in a much more human context. While we have been physically distant from each other, there has been an increase in human connection.
Secondly, the world has come together to collaborate. Organizations have really pushed past their own walls to bring down boundaries that have existed historically and this collaboration will help us emerge stronger when we deal with the world’s most complex challenges. Finally, it is the first time that HR has stepped and grasped this opportunity to lead through this humanitarian crisis. It will bring a whole new focus for the profession to become more people-focused rather than being process-focused.
Leaving people Net Better Off
Sharing more about the concept of ‘Net Better Off’ created by Accenture, Ellyn revealed that she likes to think of it as Net Promoter Score with a robust model that identifies the dimensions or the true elements that leave people better off than they would be otherwise. The study identified six tangible elements that people look for their organizations to provide that actually take a very holistic view of an individual as a human being and not just an employee. While businesses have been accelerating through this crisis, once we emerge from it, talented people would have more choices; they would look for organizations that look upon them as human beings and not just as an asset or a resource. It is those organizations that will win the war for talent looming on the horizon.
These six dimensions include- Emotional & Mental-do people feel positive, compassionate, and fulfilled; Relational-do people feel a sense of belonging and connection; Physical- do employers feel about the physical well-being of their employees and are they equipped to take on normal daily selves; Financial-do employees feel their financial is secure; Purposeful-do employees feel connected to the purpose of the organizations and are able to make a positive difference at work; Employable-do the employees have in-demand skills and capabilities to obtain good jobs and grow in their careers.
Leveraging ‘Net Better Off’ for unlocking people potential
Companies are having to make very difficult choices in the pandemic. One thing that the ‘Net Better Off’ framework enables is helping organizations make responsible decisions not only in good times but also in very difficult times. When you think of the six dimensions, they not only help you to think about things that you can do to keep business viable but also things that you can do to help people when times are so difficult and help leverage people potential.
There are five Sweet Spot practices that can help organizations turn these dimensions into actions, which Accenture arrived at through statistical testing.
- The first one of them is enabling continuous learning to keep people skills relevant in good and bad times; even if you are furloughing them are you leaving them with marketable skills.
- The second sweet spot practice is listening to your people at the front lines-do not sit at your office or home thinking you know best. Move away from these annual big surveys to more consumer-led techniques to be constantly harvesting what your people need most importantly.
- The third one is using technology to enable more flexible, creative work arrangements for a workforce that is more dispersed.
- The fourth one is championing wellbeing and equality-enabling them to be authentic in their whole lives.
- The last sweet spot practice is to set and share people metrics. Transparency is at the very heart of building trust and setting goals and transparently reporting them builds trust in people and communities as well as accelerates the pace of change.
These sweet spots are not just good for your people but also good for the business. Regardless of the size of your organization, Ellyn shared that these are hard things to do. For instance, to champion wellbeing and equality, organizations really have to normalize the talk around mental health. People do not feel comfortable asking for help when they are facing mental health issues. But normalizing the discussion by asking how people are feeling is a very basic thing that organizations can do. This is what Accenture started with and followed it by providing employees the tools to address mental health issues. What is needed are micro-steps that people can take, not big programs.
In conclusion, Ellyn shared that while we are all learning, it is also important to understand what we need to unlearn about the old normal to emerge stronger. HR has taken a new role in leadership and it’s time to be a compassionate leader because compassion is empathy plus action. Lastly, HR should not underestimate its ability to create positive societal change. If you can look beyond your own walls and collaborate, you can make an impact that has a multiplier effect.