Every organization has a vibe, a feeling that is clearly discernible but difficult to pin down, and you can feel this ‘vibe’ the moment you step into a workplace. Some organizations feel hectic and stressful. Others seem cold and sterile, or worse still - dull. But a few—a rare few—are different. Walk inside these organizations and one thing is clear: people are genuinely excited to be there. A perceptible buzz – an undercurrent of energy and vitality – permeates the place. A clear sense of pride, passion and purpose is evident in every interaction with an employee, customer facing or not. And this passion is evident in every product or service, and manifests itself in every customer touch point. These organizations far from being disrupted have become even more resilient amidst digitization, having found newer ways to harness the collective energies of their employees leveraging technology.
In a research study recently released by Mercer, we explore just what does it take for organizations to thrive from a people standpoint, as a way to uncover some key attributes of organizations which have been able to create this rare vibe of passion and purpose. The first thing that becomes clear about such organizations is that they have fundamentally transformed the idea of ‘going to work’ for their employees and turned it into a compelling experience, one that is meaningful to each employee individually. After surveying over 800 HR and business leaders, we drew insights around organizational cultures and people practices around the world to understand the underlying themes. ‘Growth’ and ‘Learning’ stood out, as did a sense of ‘equity’ as key drivers for creating a thriving workplace. And we believe that this thriving workplace is the foundation for building businesses which are not only resilient to disruption, but are businesses that can actually thrive today by embracing innovation.
We also heard regional differences around what it takes to thrive. Companies in North America placed emphasis on a leader’s style and the importance of their “relatability”, “accessibility”, “their ability to connect with the workforce“. The perceived fairness of talent assessments was also important, i.e. “equal access to experiences”, “clear assessment for development opportunities”, “transparent promotion choices”. In emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America, respondents were most vocal on the criticality of career and development transparency, “clarity around promotion criteria”, “career frames that define the experiences and skills you can gain”. Organizational design was part of the message from Latin America – ‘build flatter structures”, “have less levels”, “move to agile work structures”. European and Asia based companies both shared how they have reaped the return from workforce analytics “data that tracks the progress of diverse groups” “data to know what people want, actually use, might need –linked to life events”.
European companies also mentioned the importance of involving employees in the decision making and change actions that are being driven “involving employees in discussions about why we need to change”, “getting people involved with new initiatives early”, “and involving them in innovation”. Additionally, employees also seek to work for an organization whose purpose not only resonates with their own but also one that creates a broader social impact.
Various doomsday forecasts around job losses on account of automation notwithstanding, we need to understand the impact of technology on jobs from an employee’s vantage-point. Employees in Asia seek more opportunities to grow their careers and develop isn’t surprising, given the soaring aspirations at the back of technological strides underway in the region. Thriving organizations place a premium on people and invest in their development, especially to make them ‘digital ready’. One of Asia’s leading banks – DBS for example recently announced that it would invest $20 million over the next five years to raise the digital competence of 10,000 of its employees in Singapore. With the advent of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, fostering a culture of continuous learning and meritocracy is paramount for organizations to thrive. They realize that to generate best-in-class performance, they need to attract and retain the best talent pool.
Thriving organizations go to great lengths to ensure that their talent management practices not only appeal to a wide range of employees, but resonate with what they want for themselves and their families. They create thriving workforces that are diverse and adaptive, inclusive and growth focused, and are committed to the physical, financial and emotional wellbeing of their employees.
To download a copy of Mercer’s Thrive research, click here.