Alongside growing revenue and profits, companies are increasingly called on to treat workers well, cultivate rewarding relations with their customers and communities, and have a positive impact on society

In its latest Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte charts the rise of the social enterprise, in which companies’ reputation for respecting and supporting stakeholders and the environment is key to bottom line success.  Indeed, the consultancy notes that some 65% of CEOs in a recent survey rated “inclusive growth” as a top-three strategic concern, more than three times greater than the proportion citing “shareholder value”.

Deloitte’s 2018 report, the result of a global survey of over 11,000 businesses and human resources leaders along with interviews with executives of some of the world’s leading corporations, also identifies the 10 most pressing human capital issues facing organizations amid the rise of the social enterprise.

At the top of the list is the development of the symphonic C-suite, as the need to behave as a social enterprise and manage macro trends in the external environment requires an “unprecedented level of cross-functional vision, connectivity, and collaboration from C-suite leaders”.  Top executives most work together smoothly in teams while effectively managing their own functional teams. Despite its number one ranking, however, 73% of respondents said their C-suite leaders rarely if ever collaborate on projects or strategic initiatives. Only 46% of those surveyed said they were prepared to implement the necessary level of executive cooperation.

A number of the priority issues facing organizations involve managing the growing role of technology, with a dramatic increase in the use of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation; the spread of the hyper-connected workplace; and the use of people analytics that employs data to improve hiring, managing, retaining and workforce organization practices.  As technology advances, humans must remain solidly in the loop, the report shows, with the broader aim of tools like AI not only cutting costs and eliminating routine tasks but also creating value for customers and meaningful work for employees. Managers must also make important decisions about which tools to use and how to use them as well as ensuring that security safeguards and transparency measures are put in place when there could be privacy or data abuse concerns.

The report also highlights the need for companies to address a transformation underway in the nature of work.  As technology advances, skills are becoming obsolete quicker than ever and Deloitte notes that 21st century careers are no longer narrowly defined by jobs and skills but through experiences and learning agility.  Despite a rise in technical jobs, the report highlights the need for well-rounded employees, with skills such as writing, research, problem solving and teamwork.  The change in the nature of jobs means companies must reform learning & development programmes and may need to fundamentally rethink career models.

Deloitte also highlights changes in the workforce and the need to manage non-traditional employees.  Indeed, as companies increasingly turn to freelance, contractors and gig workers, they must actively and strategically manage workforce segments beyond the enterprise.  The increase in average life spans means careers can also last far longer, making retraining and adapting the work environment for older workers a priority for companies that want to reap the so-called longevity dividend.

Companies also see how they treat their employees as critical to meeting corporate responsibility requirements, the report shows. In the face of workplace stress, providing well-being programmes focused on physical, mental, financial and even spiritual health is seen is crucial for employee productivity, engagement and retention, although the research highlights a significant gap between what companies offer and what employees want. Personalized, agile, and holistic rewards programs are seen as essential to attracting, motivating and developing talent although many companies also fall short in this area. 

 Moreover, social enterprises must put citizenship and social impact centre stage when it comes to evaluating actions. An inauthentic or uneven commitment to citizenship can damage reputation, sales and the ability to attract talent.  Good corporate citizen also has a payback in financial performance, Deloitte stresses, with a recent meta-study identifying a direct correlation between CSR (corporate social responsibility) index ranking and profitability.