Demographic shifts represent one of the biggest and most powerful forces in the changes we are seeing in the world. The populations of Western Europe and Japan are the oldest in the world, and we are approaching the point when they will be 20 years older, on average, than those in the youngest regions of the world like India, the Middle East, and Africa. This generational difference will have an enormous impact on everything from consumer spending to education policy, to the ability of a country to pay for retirement income and health, to immigration policy.
Of course, this is one of the drivers of expected differences in economic growth rates. But just as important as the age differences, there will be continuing changes in the makeup of the workforce in the years to come — across multiple dimensions, including gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, education background… So being an organization that all people want to be part of, and one in which all people can find success will become much more important in the decades to come.
High performing organizations take charge of their own destiny. They have a laser-sharp focus on executing against the four drivers of competitive success — customer reach, operational agility, cost competitiveness and stakeholder confidence. And they strike the right balance in their approach to each of these four drivers in relation to the others — strategically and tactically. These are the key findings of EY Growing Beyond report.
Furthermore, the high performers are focusing on current customers and employees, as primary sources of innovation — approaching innovation closer to the target market.
High performers have been approaching their talent with the same focus that they approach the market:
– Being more involved with employee engagement;
– Going outside the organization and traditional talent pools for both management and technical skills to get the diversity required for complex decision-making;
– Building the right local team to activate new operations quickly — recruiting local marketing and management, but also paying greater attention to technical and operational roles;
– Being more selective in the recruitment of talent, but faster to both develop and deploy. The resource is moved into new markets, but with an explicit knowledge transition expected;
– Engaging in a battle for talent — experiencing higher staff turnover as a consequence despite being willing and able to pay for talent (although recognizing that this is only part of the employment equation);
– Twice as likely to have people from emerging markets in Global management positions.
All of this has been achieved by high performers within an environment of uncertainty and competitive intensity is rarely seen before.
A central part of people philosophy in successful organizations is empowering people to succeed by giving them the flexibility, technology, tools, and support they need to work in a way that suits them, recognizing them as individuals who lead rich and busy lives outside the workplace. To support this, many of them launched new formal flexible working arrangement policies. It incorporates guidelines around reduced hours or part-time working, term-time working, career breaks and compressed working hours. They recognize that flexibility goes beyond work practices; it’s also about adapting to individual styles and perspectives.
Empowering people is also about giving them the knowledge and skills they need for a rewarding and stimulating career. No matter where people may be based, they should have access to formal learning, in a format that suits them — videos, webcasts, classroom lectures, case studies or simulations.
Up to 70% of an individual’s personal and professional development comes from everyday experiences. This is too important to be left to chance, which is why organizations encourage all of their people to identify the experiences that will help them grow, such as assignments at different projects and engagements, international assignments and mobility programs.
While formal reviews of performance are usually undertaken annually, organizations also encourage timely and relevant coaching and feedback throughout the year. Open and frank communication — upwards and sideways as well as from top to bottom — is vital part of organizational growth.
One of the key differentiators between top performers is the way that they have engaged with their internal stakeholders as critical contributors to the achievement of their growth strategies.
Top performers are focused on broadening their workforce skills, equipping their teams to be more productive through training, mentoring and sharing knowledge, and improving internal communications.
Researches clearly show that an engaged workforce is a more productive one. Indeed, some major recent studies have shown:
• The best-in-class engaged group has an 11% improved level of retention over those groups who are below average, and an impressive 8% better performance even than those who are above average.
• Results are even more striking for productivity: the best-in-class group scores 60% higher than the below average group and 24% better than the average.
Involvement is the foundation of engagement
Top performers aim to create a harmonious company culture that strongly connects employees and management. High-quality relationships in the workplace are the key to engagement. They invest in training and encourage innovation and find inventive solutions to attract and retain key people.
Involvement is a major source of motivation and fosters the innovation the company needs to flourish and reach better performance targets. Top performers use communication to keep their workforce engaged and motivated. Information freedom helps all the organizations’ functions share a common corporate goal and risk appetite. It also informs employees about current performance and future business and investment plans and makes them feel part of the company’s success.
No one should underestimate the difficulty of the current market or the significance of the scale of change that we are living through. Nor can we expect that business will go “back to normal” even if growth is restored. We are witnessing a massive rebalancing of the global economy that will change the way we compete — and with whom we compete.
But we can predict that some companies will seize the opportunity of these difficult conditions to reshape their sectors and secure their fortunes. Already, we can see some companies taking major steps in learning more, developing more, engaging more and innovating more…
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