Amidst the brutal restructuring, the current crisis has also, rather ironically, placed people at the centre of organisations and redefined who the ‘most valued and important people’ are! Amidst the savage cost-cutting, eternal issues such as trust, openness and transparency are fast re-emerging. Protecting the health and safety of staff will be key to generating future loyalty and emotional engagement; key differentiators for the winning businesses of the future.
People are also asking “how did our leaders do during the crisis?” Answers to this question will have a huge impact on the return of many businesses to the new world. Traditional style leaders will be tested by a new agenda of stakeholder capitalism that elevates the environment, social contribution and justice, to new heights. Paying lip service will no longer suffice.
One of the world’s most successful capitalists, Larry Fink, founder of BlackRock, is recently quoted as saying, “Going forward, there is going to be a lot more focus on society, customers, clients, family and employees.” Developing future organisational capability, sustainability and success in that agenda is something towards which many high-quality HR professionals can contribute. But it’s going to be a tough task for HR professionals, and some are perhaps already falling into the trap of old-style HR.
The financial and economic pressures are already drowning out calls for a ‘new way’ of operating. Leadership mindsets pre-occupied with short term survival, coupled with spreadsheet myopia, will look to silence radical discussions about new business, organisation or people agendas. Yet we know that resilient organisations don’t simply survive over the long term, they also prosper, develop and grow. The key learning of the crisis is that it is people that are at the heart of organisations.
It is people on the intensive care ward, the supermarket checkout, the refuse truck and transport depot that have made the critical difference; not leaders or middle managers but people in the engine room.