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How organisations are adapting to an era of uncertainty

How organisations are adapting to an era of uncertainty

Let’s face it, the very foundations of today’s business environment have been built on faulty grounds. Politics, the economy, technology, the environment; the stability of these seemingly-reliable pillars that businesses depend on are, in essence, assumptions. 

We are living in an era where rapid change has become the norm: unexpected election results, global financial crises, and unprecedented digital disruption.

But rather than waiting around for a more preferable business environment to fall into their laps, many organisations are taking a proactive and pragmatic stance to risk management, future planning, and talent management.

Here are three ways in which organisations are adapting to change, and how you can keep up:

Politics and the economy: a rocky relationship

Today’s geo-political and economic landscape is far from fixed – the Brexit result, Donald Trump’s surprise win, and Theresa May’s flawed election strategy are evidence of the fact that little is certain.

This political uncertainty has had an impact on business executives across the globe. According to the latest report by the management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, the top-ranked external challenge for business executives worldwide is an ‘unstable geopolitical environment’.

In essence, despite the tremulous times, a wave of organisations are making bold steps to innovate and grow by embracing new technology and reinventing their own workplace policies, structures and sense of direction.

Corporations are also investing heavily in short and long-term future proofing, focusing their decision-making around scenario-based planning procedures in order to predict potential risks, and gain a better understanding of what the future has in-store.

One of these notions is VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), former military speak for pinpointing potential systematic and behavioural failures, and in turn, sharpening your capacity to look and plan ahead.

Finding purpose in an age of uncertainty

Nowadays, organisations are judged by their opinions on social and political issues. A recent study by the PR firm Edelman revealed that 57% of consumers choose to buy or boycott a brand based on its social or political views.

And while these social/political beliefs have a clear impact on the decisions of the consumer, they also have an impact on the employee and potential employee. To put it simply, the younger generation of workers don’t want to work for organisations that aren’t on par with their own personal values.

Corporate transparency has become a highly-valued trait by digital natives. Having grown up with social media, this generation has become accustomed to sharing everything and anything - and this attitude has made its way into the workplace. 

We are seeing a growing number of businesses becoming more transparent, sharing everything from performance data and finances through to employee salaries. 

In the US, over half of private companies regularly inform employees about the organisation’s financial performance, up from 24% four years prior, according to a recent study.

While having an open book approach does open up the door to some risks – leaking of sensitive information being one - it is an effective way of building trust and loyalty in an age where these two highly-valued characteristics are holding onto their final threads.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Management Professor, Thomas Malone, says: “If a lot more people have a lot more information, they’re better able to make decisions themselves.

“When you are making decisions yourself, you are often more creative, more highly motivated, able to be more flexible, and often you just plain like it more.”

Attracting talent through continuous change

To pass through this perilous period unscathed, there is a focus on attracting and retaining the right type of talent, often through unconventional means.

For instance, a number of organisations are investing in more sophisticated, data-driven ways of measuring work performance with data analytics tools such as Morgan Philips Group’s Leadership Blueprint, which maps out the talent within your organisation – comparing individual, team and departmental performance against their proven potential.

Modern employees want to work for businesses that embrace change – so we’re also seeing a wave of organisations taking practical steps to customise their workplaces, such as investing in open plan office spaces, flexible working, or ensuring their team comes from a range of diverse backgrounds.

Organisations are adapting to a new era of uncertainty by assessing potential risks and investing in innovative solutions, establishing a strong sense of corporate purpose and direction, and adapting to the ever-changing demands of top talent by embracing agile workplace policies.

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