The impact of Covid lockdowns on organisational effectiveness and their outcomes has been counterintuitive. They are growing up!
In my assessment, I have witnessed only positive trends in the corporate sector to achieve more with less. It seems like the days of complacency and acceptance of mediocrity are long gone. The wake-up call of potential existential threats to every organisation has produced some startlingly encouraging results. Apart from the obvious disruptions to supply chains through direct legislative restrictions and revenue impacts at the service-delivery end in many industries, something profound has shifted in the human capital space – a serious step-up in attitudes to prioritize the wellbeing of their employers over individual self-interest. Discretionary effort has made a step change.
Over the past 18 months, I have been aghast at the performance of our customers. Tens of thousands of employees, across industries, have evaluated continuously improving metrics of their High-Performance Philosophies (their unique Formulas for Success: see What our clients say for context) and the flood of recommended actions, solutions and innovations, surfaced from their people – bottom up – has taken on a whole new level of quality. We are living in a new era, where the success of the whole system over self-serving motivations means everything. It wasn’t always this way – pre-March 2020 – and our records, across our client base, are showing how organisations are now becoming more fit for purpose than they have ever been. This is being reflected in EBITDAs.
Here’s why – Our top 5 findings:
- There’s a deeper sense of gratitude towards employers. The harsh awareness of mass job losses nationally has been a reality check for employees. What was hitherto taken for granted – and indeed often a sense of entitlement – is now seen as something more precious. To remain income earning these days is no longer a ‘right’. This is fostering a fresh desire to reciprocate, whereby employees are naturally more motivated to focus on real value provision, a willingness to dig deeper and to go the extra mile for their organisations. Respect for leadership is thus being enhanced.
- Leaders are having to trust their people more, and the zeitgeist is encouraging them to do this. In many cases, with fragmented workspace conditions, there is no other option but to do so. It’s also less taboo for people to talk about the challenges they face. Interactions, despite being more virtual, are sometimes more real as a result.
- There has been a complete shift in the quality and quantity of content of opinions through our qualitative research on the recommended actions, solutions and innovations from employees, where the mass streams of ideas for continuous improvement implementations have taken on a whole new level. People truly care more about their organisation winning than of their own particular needs – certainly more so than our historical record trends indicate. The actions are more concrete around practical improvements to systems, procedures, operational efficiency drivers and customer experience.
- Reduction in potential for politics. Work from home has forced people to focus on their core job. Employees have become more task and outcomes focused. They attend more to the immediate job at hand, while not being in the same familiar environment with greater susceptibility to the frictions caused by the grapevine: people have to actively start a call/Teams chat if they wish to gossip about non-value adding matters.
- Digital adoption. Companies are making an effort to digitise. This is making organisations more inclusive, real-time connected and opening up learning opportunities to people who previously might have been ignored. There is now access to the internet for the more general-employee constituencies and this makes training much more accessible, while potentially reducing the cost of training.
None of the above is what I had anticipated at the start of the lockdowns, but I’m delighted to have been wrong on all counts. These are unpredictable and aberrant times indeed! There is a simmering debate about the originator of the quote, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”, but so much of that principle is positively manifesting for real in organisations these days. History is littered with devastating global events, where advances to humanity emerged in parallel: eg, rapid enhancements in technology and medicine during WWII. Silver linings are always possible too.
I would be interested in your thoughts on the above.
Guy Martin is the founder & Managing Director of Blueprints: Which has enabled business leaders to drive measurable high-performance across 130 blue-chip organisations in 36 countries