These leadership strategies can help you build a stress-free team


Yes, your team is tense. Downsize the anxiety with these quick fixes that are easy to implement.

These leadership strategies can help you build a stress-free teamLearn how to lead your team to stress-free productivity

When it comes to stress, there’s probably no greater trigger than what happens at work. And while some jobs are more stressful than others, The American Institute of Stress says there are common pain points that many workers share. The biggest is workload (46%), followed by people issues (28%), work/life balance (20%) and finally, lack of job security (6%).

As a manager, you can’t necessarily turn the office into a zen meditation garden, but there are things you can do to lower your team’s stress levels—and create a happier, more productive office.

“It’s important that the team not be stressed,” says Joanne Vitali, a certified career coach in the Philadelphia area. “Stress releases cortisol, which takes energy away from the prefrontal cortex, making you less able to reason and respond well. You are, in a nutshell, way less productive.”

So, should you be encouraging your employees to meditate? Maybe. But there are other things you can do that directly affect their health and happiness.

Communicate more effectively

As a higher-up, you have a big-picture view of things that your employees aren’t always privy to. And you’re making choices based on that perspective—and potentially not explaining them well.

“Employees see decisions made or actions taken without knowing the whole story, so they tend to make up a story in their mind,” says EB Sanders, a career coach in San Francisco. “Nine times out of 10, it’s not a good story.”

It’s a simple fix: Keep employees in the loop as much as possible. “Employees really do need to have some sense of which way the ship is heading,” Sanders says. “It’s incredibly important that management find a way to communicate at least the highlights.”

Give frequent feedback

Want to see an anxious employee? Have them do their job for months without having any idea if they’re doing it right.

“The ‘no news is good news’ model doesn’t make employees feel good—it really stresses them out,” Sanders says. “They don’t know if they’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing. They don’t want to be micromanaged, but they definitely want and crave constructive criticism, and they want general feedback on their performance on a consistent level.”

That means more than just an annual performance review. Let employees know if they’re doing what you expect, as regularly as you can. Even if you’re just offering quarterly feedback, it will help your workers feel confident that they’re headed in the right direction.

Keep culture in mind when you hire

Many companies hire their workforce strictly based on their talents without considering whether candidates will fit into the corporate and team cultures.

Ross Wehner, founder and career coach at WehnerEd, recalls interviewing someone who came from the auto industry in Detroit. “The culture they have there was much more aggressive and ‘every man or woman for himself,’ trying to make it to the top above everybody else,” he says. “Whereas at the company where I was, it was more about how we get there together as a team. It’s a completely different mindset for how you approach organization and teamwork.”

Cultural fit is a big component of happiness, and should factor into all hiring decisions. “Even with tight deadlines and high demands, many workers have reported being happy with their jobs if they jive well with their coworkers,” says Ross Wehner, founder and career coach at WehnerEd. “Cohesive teams tend to take challenges in stride and win together.”

Stop micromanaging

Some leaders get too deep in the details around how the actual work gets implemented, but implementation belongs to the employee.

“When a boss gets in the weeds on making judgment calls about execution details, the direct report feels infantilized,” says Ephraim Schachter, founder and CEO of CSuite Accelerator Inc. “This can be hugely stressful and demoralizing to a high achiever.”

That doesn’t mean you should disappear, necessarily. Instead, provide accessible and regular oversight for the work to be produced—but don’t produce it yourself.

Work together on deadlines

Some executives create stress for their teams by enforcing unreasonable expectations on performance. They don’t push back on heavy orders from higher-ups or they create those orders themselves, without checking in with their workers.

“Part of it is approaching your team with a conversation: ‘Here’s what expectations are, let’s talk about bandwidth, let’s talk about other projects on your plate,’” Wehner says. “Rather than saying, ‘Here’s what my manager told me and here’s how it’s going to be.’ The approach is much more collaborative.”

In the same way that upper-level execs should be cheerleaders for their team when it comes to promotions, they should also be shielding them during challenging times.

Be a source of knowledge

A boss who’s always trying to improve his or her managerial skills is the kind that workers will respect—and want to emulate. Stay abreast of management trends so you can continue to bring out the best in your team. You can also join Monster, and receive career advice like this via email, the kind of expert advice can use to build great teams, or to accelerate your own career.

Your Strategic Plans Probably Aren’t Strategic, or Even Plans


Graham Kenny
APRIL 06, 2018

It happens all the time: A group of managers get together at a resort for two days to hammer out a “strategic plan.” Done and dusted, they all head home. But have they produced a plan with a strategy?

At the start of my public seminars on strategic planning I ask attendees, who rank from board members and CEOs to middle management, to write down an example of a strategy on a sheet of paper. They look at me quizzically at first as they realize that this is a tough assignment. I reassure them that this is indeed a hard question and they plow ahead.

The results are always astonishing to me and them. Here are some of the responses from the list I received at my most recent session: actions (“launch a new service”; “review our suitability to the retirement business”); activities (“marketing our products through the right channels”); objectives (“achieve $100m net revenue”) and broad descriptions of what goes on (“planning process from beginning to end of product”; “working for your stakeholders”).

Sorry folks, but not even one of these responses is a strategy.

Unfortunately, while C-suite executives talk “strategy,” they’re often confused about what it means. Why this confusion? The problem starts with the word itself — a scarily misunderstood concept in management and board circles. The most basic mix-up is between “objective,” “strategy,” and “action.” (I see this frequently in published strategic plans as well.) Grasp this, I tell my audience, and your day will be well spent.

An “objective” is something you’re trying to achieve — a marker of the success of the organization. At the other end of the spectrum is “action.” This occurs at the individual level — a level that managers are presented with day after day. So naturally when they think “strategy” they focus on what they do. But this isn’t strategy either. “Strategy” takes place between these two at the organization level and managers can’t “feel” that in the same way. It’s abstract. CEOs have an advantage here because only they have a total view of the organization.

The key to strategy is that it’s the positioning of one business against others — GM against Ford and Toyota, for example. What exactly is positioning? It’s placement on the strategic factors relevant to each key stakeholder group.

An organization exists as part of a system composed of transactions between itself and its key stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders. Organizations differ in the detail of these sets, of course, depending on the complexity of the industry in which they’re located.

The task of a strategic planning team is to produce positions on these factors that deliver value to the organization’s key stakeholders and meet the objectives of the organization. Let’s go back to our seminar list and take one of the responses: “achieve $100m net revenue.” This is an objective, rather than a strategy. A strategy serves an objective by providing a position on the relevant strategic factors — in this case for customers.

Let’s say the strategic planning team identifies “price” as one strategic factor. In this case let’s make the business Dan Murphy’s, Australia’s largest liquor retailer with a national footprint. It has stated its position on this factor unequivocally: “Lowest liquor price guaranteed. In the unlikely event that a customer finds a lower price, we’ll beat it on the spot.” This is that company’s position on price. Alternatively, let’s look at Toyota. A strategic factor relevant to the same type of objective for customers is “safety.” By reviewing its materials, we can construe the company’s position on this as: Safety is paramount, and our cars are among the most advanced, reliable, and safest on the road.

Now to ensure implementation, a strategic planning team must identify some project- or program-levelactions. McDonalds had to do this when on “product range” it took this position: Traditional meal range but with an increased emphasis on salad items and with the option for customers to design their own burgers. Periodic special offerings to spur customer interest. You can envision the high-level actions that might follow such as: Design a training program for all staff in made-to-order food handling procedures.

If you take a helicopter view of the process I’ve outlined, you can see that it involves system design. Each key stakeholder group is taken in turn to work out what an organization wants from it (an objective) and what the key stakeholder wants from it (strategic factors) e.g. customers want effective performance on factors such as price and customer service. The strategic planning team must then decide on the organization’s position on these factors (strategy). This will be conditioned, of course, by customer research. Having done this, key stakeholder by key stakeholder, the next step is to ensure congruence — a fit between employee relations and customer relations, customer relations and supplier relations, and so on — system design.

My experience in working with clients over many years is that executive teams fail to approach strategic planning from a system-design perspective. A major cause of this is that managers within these teams approach the task from their own functional-management view, e.g. finance, HR, marketing, operations. Consequently, they think “action” when they mean to think “strategy.” Taking a stakeholder approach to strategic planning induces managers to raise their thinking to the organization level.

Remember. Strategic planning is a journey, not a project. Plans require on-going adjustment. Yes, kick start yours with a two-day retreat. But never end it there.

Graham Kenny is managing director of Strategic Factors, a Sydney-based consultancy that specializes in strategic planning and performance measurement, and president of Reinvent Australia, an organization that focuses on the nation’s future development.

From careers to experiences New pathways

March 28, 2018

​Rather than an orderly, sequential progression from job to job, 21st-century careers can be viewed as a series of developmental experiences, each offering the opportunity to acquire new skills, perspectives, and judgment.

A premium on agility

Inthe 21st century, careers are no longer narrowly defined by jobs and skills but through experiences and learning agility. The ongoing transformation of work, the need for people and organizations to constantly upgrade capabilities, and shifts in employee preferences demand new approaches to learning, job design, performance management, and career development.

As rapidly advancing technologies and team-centered business models drive organizations to redesign themselves, leaders are also struggling to create new career models and build new skills across the workforce. In this year’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, “building the 21st-century career” emerged as the third-most-important trend; 47 percent of respondents described it as very important. Yet only nine percent of respondents are very ready to address this trend, demonstrating the challenge’s urgency.

What is a 21st-century career? We define it as a series of developmental experiences, each offering a person the opportunity to acquire new skills, perspectives, and judgment. Careers in this century may follow an upward arc, with progression and promotion at various times—but they will look nothing like the simple stair-step path of generations ago.

This year, 61 percent of our survey respondents told us they are actively redesigning jobs around artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and new business models, and 42 percent believe automation will have a major impact on job roles over the next two years. This disruptive change has huge implications for workforce needs, including skill development. However, many learning and development (L&D) departments are falling behind. A separate 2017 employer survey found that more than half of the respondents did not have learning programs to build the skills of the future.1

The skills of the future may not be what you think

As technology advances, skills are becoming obsolete faster than ever. But—contrary to conventional wisdom—the greatest value now lies beyond purely technical skills. In fact, the most valuable roles are those that enable machines to pair with skilled, cross-disciplinary thinkers to innovate, create, and deliver services.2

Many of today’s fastest-growing jobs are in fields such as health care, sales, and professional services that are essentially human, but can be aided and augmented by machines. Indeed, the most in-demand technical roles have shifted from STEM to STEAM, where the “A” stands for arts.3 A recent Burning Glass study found that even data and analytics jobs now require skills such as writing, research, problem-solving, and teamwork.4 Scott Hartley writes in his book, The Fuzzy and the Techie, that the best technology and products come from innovations that blend the arts and sciences together: “We need both context and code, data literacy and data science.5

Organizations are beginning to understand this new skills landscape. In this year’s survey, companies list complex problem-solving, cognitive abilities, and social skills as the most needed capabilities for the future. Businesses are clamoring for workers with this blend of skills, not pure technical competency.

Shaping new career models

This demand means that companies should not just reform their L&D programs, but may also need to fundamentally reshape their career models. That starts with scrapping the traditional “up or out” career ladder in favor of careers where people can continuously reskill, gain new experiences, and reinvent themselves at work. Careers today can last as long as 70 years,6 so individuals must be able to pivot throughout this journey to align with evolving jobs, professions, and industries.

Although organizations are recognizing this shift and responding, many challenges remain. Nearly three-quarters of our survey respondents (72 percent) indicate that career paths at their company are not based on the organizational hierarchy, simple moves up the organization chart. Still, only 20 percent said that their organizations develop people through experiential learning, and just 18 percent feel they give employees the ability to actively develop themselves and chart new pathways for their careers. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) said that they had no programs in place to build the skills of the future, and internal mobility is still often driven by tenure, title, and internal politics.

This fundamental mismatch between career pathways and the development employees need to be successful leaves people feeling frustrated and powerless. Not surprisingly, nearly 60 percent of respondents this year rated their organizations as only somewhat effective or not effective in empowering people to manage their own careers.

Solutions will not come from the education industry, leaving the responsibility squarely with organizations. While educational institutions are developing more multidisciplinary degrees, research shows that degrees are not all that matters. High-performing organizations evaluate and hire candidates for attributes such as work ethic, values, and potential as well as for their experience and skills.7

Learning reinvented

One significant enabler of a 21st-century career is an organizational focus on building a culture of learning. According to research, companies that practice a growth mind-set, create “designed growth” and stretch assignments, and openly discuss mistakes to promote learning are three times more profitable and have up to four times better retention than those that do not.8

The corporate learning market is shifting to help companies find and deliver these solutions. A vast array of new self-directed learning tools have entered the market,9 enabling employees to find content, take courses, and share information like never before.

Building on these tools, companies such as Visa, Ingersoll Rand, IBM, Walmart, and others are creating learning networks and knowledge-sharing systems, using new platforms to curate content sourced both internally and from massive open online courses (MOOCs).10 Salesforce, SAP, and other large vendors are now opening up their content to workers for free, helping people find the training they need with the click of a mouse.11

Others are pushing further, applying advanced technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). For example, BMO uses an AR application that allows employees to interact with a digital layer over their physical workplace, providing on-demand access to learning materials and using gamification to encourage exploration. 12

Companies like Shell are transforming their careers and learning capabilities into interactive digital experiences that use both AR and VR to accelerate knowledge and augment the job experience. Shell is also responding to the increased pace of change by emphasizing experiences early in employees’ careers. “We cannot foresee what campus hires will be doing five years from now, but we do know we will always need the best talent for our business, so we are focused on accelerating development to innovate, collaborate, and make a business impact,” says Jorrit van der Togt, executive vice president, HR strategy and learning, Shell.13

The new imperative: Reinvention within organizations

Successful organizations are providing tailored solutions that empower individuals to reinvent themselves within the companyThis is key both to enabling workers to navigate 21st-century careers and to allowing employers to access the skills of the future.

Some employers are targeting both goals at once through means such as using data-driven career development tools to identify the best “next move” for employees.14 For instance, IBM has created AI-based self-assessment tools to help employees find training, job openings, and career paths most relevant to their personal needs.15

When effective, programs like these will allow employees to find, pursue, and excel in the kinds of experiences they need to grow. This helps organizations to retain employees and equip them to meet current and future work demands, powering a new career pathway that benefits both the individual and the organization.

The bottom line

For organizations and business leaders, there is a new imperative: Examine, understand, develop, and implement a variety of solutions to support 21st-century careers. Only a focus on experiences, new career models, data-driven tools, and L&D offerings will enable companies to develop, retain, and reinvent the right talent at the right time.

What role does the C-suite play in enabling today’s careers? How can individuals adjust?

Trend Analysis

Though nearly three-quarters of respondents indicate career paths in their organization are not based on a traditional organizational hierarchy, half still base their development program on the skills needed for these defined paths.

Filters: none

Traditional skill development model vs. nontraditional career paths

n = 11,069

Development aligns to defined career paths . . .


Develop through experiences or collaborative learningDevelop for skills needed to advance in defined careerpaths
. . . but career paths are nontraditional.


Traditional—progress through organizational hierarchy:
Nontraditional—do not follow organizational hierarchyTraditional—progress through organizational hierarchy

Introduction: The rise of the social enterprise 2018 Global Human Capital Trends

​Organizations are no longer judged only for their financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, they are being evaluated on the basis of their impact on society at large—transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.

The growing importance of social capital


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THE 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report showcases a profound shift facing business leaders worldwide: The rapid rise of what we call the social enterprise. This shift reflects the growing importance of social capital in shaping an organization’s purpose, guiding its relationships with stakeholders, and influencing its ultimate success or failure.

In 2018, we are witnessing seismic changes in the workforce, the workplace, and the technologies used in the world of work. Based on this year’s global survey of more than 11,000 business and HR leaders, as well as interviews with executives from some of today’s leading organizations, we believe that a fundamental change is underway. Organizations are no longer assessed based only on traditional metrics such as financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, organizations today are increasingly judged on the basis of their relationships with their workers, their customers, and their communities, as well as their impact on society at large—transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.

In many ways, social capital is achieving a newfound status next to financial and physical capital in value. In a recent survey, for instance, 65 percent of CEOs rated “inclusive growth” as a top-three strategic concern, more than three times greater than the proportion citing “shareholder value.”1 Today, successful businesses must incorporate external trends, perspectives, and voices by maintaining positive relationships, not just with customers and employees, but also with local communities, regulators, and a variety of other stakeholders. Building these relationships challenges business leaders to listen closely to constituents, act transparently with information, break down silos to enhance collaboration, and build trust, credibility, and consistency through their actions. This is not a matter of altruism: Doing so is critical to maintaining an organization’s reputation; to attracting, retaining, and engaging critical workers; and to cultivating loyalty among customers.

The evolution of the social enterprise


A social enterprise is an organization whose mission combines revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. This includes listening to, investing in, and actively managing the trends that are shaping today’s world. It is an organization that shoulders its responsibility to be a good citizen (both inside and outside the organization), serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level of the organization.

In past Global Human Capital Trends reports, we have noted the movement of many organizations toward a “network of teams” operating model that aims to enable greater collaboration and internal agility.2 Now, this movement has been joined by the growing shift from an internal, enterprise focus to an external, ecosystem one (figure 1). Organizations on the leading edge of both of these changes embody our concept of the social enterprise: an organization that is alert enough to sense, and responsive enough to accommodate, the gamut of stakeholder expectations and demands.

The last decade: Building toward today’s tipping point

Why has this shift occurred? We believe that it is driven by social, economic, and political changes that have grown since the global financial crisis. Despite the economic recovery the world has seen since 2008, many people feel frustrated that financial gains have failed to improve individuals’ lives, address social problems, support political stability, or mitigate technology’s unintended consequences. People today have less trust in their political and social institutions than they have in years; many expect business leaders to fill the gap.

This point was made this year by BlackRock chief executive Laurence Fink. In his annual letter to CEOs, Fink noted that people are increasingly “turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges” and demanding that organizations “serve a social purpose.”3 Fink stated that shareholders, including BlackRock itself, are now evaluating companies based on this standard. A New York Times report suggested that the letter could be a “watershed moment on Wall Street” that raises questions about “the very nature of capitalism.”4

Among the many factors contributing to the rise of the social enterprise, we see three powerful macro forces driving the urgency of this change.

First, the power of the individual is growing, with millennials at the forefront. For the first time in mature markets, young people believe that their lives will be worse than their parents’—and they are actively questioning the core premises of corporate behavior and the economic and social principles that guide it.5 Among this group, social capital plays an outsized role in where they work and what they buy, and 86 percent of millennials think that business success should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance.6 Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce in many countries, and their power will likely grow over time.

This shift in power to the individual is being propelled by today’s hyper-connected world, which enables people to track information about companies and their products, express their opinions to a wide audience, and sign onto social movements, globally and in real time. Back in 2015, we called this trend toward greater transparency “the naked organization”;7 in 2018, the individuals know and expect even more from companies than they did three short years ago.

Second, businesses are being expected to fill a widening leadership vacuum in society. Across the globe, people trust business more than government. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer reported that people worldwide place 52 percent trust in business “to do what is right,” versus just 43 percent in government.8 In the United States, in particular, trust in government has hit a four-year low, at just 33 percent.9 There is a widespread perception that political systems are growing more and more polarized and less and less effective at meeting social challenges. Citizens are looking to business to fill the void on critical issues such as income inequality, health care, diversity, and cybersecurity to help make the world more equal and fair.

This expectation is placing immense pressure on companies, but it is also creating opportunities. Organizations that engage with people and demonstrate that they are worthy of trust are burnishing their reputation, winning allies, and influencing or supplanting traditional public policy mechanisms. CEOs such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff have an unprecedented ability to activate their companies for the good of society.10 Consider the organization jointly created by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase to lower health care costs for employees—tackling an issue that government cannot solve on its own, while also promising to deliver business benefits.11 On the other hand, companies that appear aloof, tone-deaf, or disengaged face harsh headlines, negative attention on social media, and tough questions from a range of stakeholders.

Third, technological change is having unforeseen impacts on society even as it creates massive opportunities to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and new communications technologies are fundamentally changing how work gets done, who does it, and how it influences society.12 For instance, machine learning was not in the mainstream three years ago. Today, it is simultaneously one of IT’s hottest areas—and a source of tremendous anxiety about potential job losses. People increasingly realize that rapid technological change, while holding out the promise of valuable opportunities, also creates unforeseen impacts that can undermine social cohesion. Many stakeholders are alarmed, and they expect businesses to channel this force for the broader good.

The good news is that technological advances can open up new opportunities for businesses to have a positive impact on society. Reflecting this view, 87 percent of C-level executives say that Industry 4.0—the industrial revolution brought about by the combination of digital and physical technologies—will lead to more equality and stability, and 74 percent say business will have more influence than governments or other organizations to shape this future.13

Becoming a social enterprise

Foundational to behaving as a social enterprise is to listen carefully to the external as well as the internal environment—not just business partners and customers, but all parties in society that an organization influences and is influenced by. In today’s world, the listening opportunity is greater than ever if organizations truly take advantage of the people data they have at their fingertips. The increasingly hyper-connected nature of the workplace means that interactions between and among workers and the outside world can be a tremendous source for analysis if managed appropriately. Leaders need to take a proactive approach to managing this wealth of information and leveraging it to keep an eye on the trends both inside and outside of the workplace.

Being a social enterprise also means investing in the broader social ecosystem, starting with an organization’s own employees. It means treating all workers—on- and off-balance-sheet—in a fair, transparent, and unbiased way. Leaders should seek to provide a work environment that promotes longevity and well-being, not only in an individual’s career, but also in the physical, mental, and financial spheres. By doing this, an organization invests both in its own workforce and in the workforce ecosystem as a whole, which benefits both the organization and society at large.

Finally, a social enterprise seeks to actively manage its position in the social ecosystem by engaging with stakeholders and strategically determining and pursuing the kind of relationship it wants to maintain with each. This cannot be done in a siloed way. Hence, this year we have provided a set of actions that C-suite leaders can take related to each trend. Each area of focus requires strong collaboration amongst leaders both across the organization and outside of it. Leaders should form relationships with the governments and regulatory bodies that shape the “rules of the road,” work collaboratively with them to create and sustain a fair, just, and equitable marketplace, and partner with communities and educational institutions to help sustain a steady flow of talent with the right skills for the organization—and the broader economy—to thrive.

The 10 human capital trends we explore in this year’s report come together to create an integrated view of the social enterprise.


Trend 1. The symphonic C-suite: Teams leading teams

Behaving as a social enterprise and managing the external environment’s macro trends effectively demands an unprecedented level of cross-functional vision, connectivity, and collaboration from C-suite leaders. To do this, they must behave as what we call the “symphonic C-suite,” in which an organization’s top executives play together as a team while also leading their own functional teams, all in harmony. This approach enables the C-suite to understand the many impacts that external forces have on and within the organization—not just on single functions—and plot coordinated, agile responses.

The symphonic C-suite is the next stage in the ongoing evolution of leadership models. This new model is necessary to help leaders to understand, manage, and respond to the complex social capital issues that organizations face, enabling them to tap opportunities, manage risks, and build relationships with internal and external stakeholders. What’s more, the symphonic leadership model is vital for growth: Our survey finds that respondents who indicate their C-suite executives “regularly collaborate on long-term interdependent work” are a third more likely to expect their companies to grow at 10 percent or more during the next year than respondents whose CxOs operate independently.

The C-suite must lead an organization’s response to the other nine trends highlighted in this report. The pace and complexity of the changes involved, and the high stakes of success or failure, elevate these as C-level issues, which cannot be delegated or approached in silos. Only a symphonic C-suite team is sufficient for the scale and speed of the following nine trends. In our chapter on the symphonic C-suite, we call out specific actions executives can take to drive greater collaboration.


As the power of the individual grows, organizations are revamping their approaches to workforce management, rewards systems, and career models to better listen and respond. In particular, as workers and networks outside the organization grow in importance, companies are striving to build effective ongoing relationships with every segment of the workforce ecosystem. In this year’s report, we have included actions for the individual worker to consider in influencing and managing their personalization and career experiences. The challenge is to figure out how to appropriately address each individual’s preferences and priorities while engaging with a more diverse set of workers and workforce segments than ever before.

Trend 2. The workforce ecosystem: Managing beyond the enterprise

Business leaders and chief human resources officers (CHROs) recognize the need to actively and strategically manage relationships with workforce segments beyond the enterprise, which increasingly affect how an organization delivers services and interacts with customers. When asked to forecast the makeup of their workforce in 2020, 37 percent of survey respondents expected a rise in contractors, 33 percent foresaw an increase in freelancers, and 28 percent expected growth in gig workers. Organizations are finding ways to align their culture and management practices with these external talent segments—engaging the workforce ecosystem for mutual benefit.

Trend 3. New rewards: Personalized, agile, and holistic

Leveraging their power as individuals, employees are asking for more personalized, agile, and holistic rewards, including a focus on fair and open pay. While companies recognize this overall shift, only 8 percent report that their rewards program is “very effective” at creating a personalized, flexible solution. Early experiments are exploring how to develop a holistic variety of rewards and match them to individual preferences, across diverse talent segments and on a continuous basis.

Trend 4. From careers to experiences: New pathways

In a 21st-century career, the individual and his or her experiences take center stage. Instead of a steady progression along a job-based pathway, leading organizations are shifting toward a model that empowers individuals to acquire valuable experiences, explore new roles, and continually reinvent themselves. However, 59 percent of our survey respondents rate their organizations as not effective or only somewhat effective at empowering people to manage their own careers. Improvement in this area is essential to attract critical talent, especially as technology shifts the skills landscape.


Leading companies are developing strategies that address societal concerns such as longevity and well-being—and doing so in ways that help improve productivity and performance. Those in this vanguard are finding rich opportunities to build social capital and become a leading voice on key societal issues.

Trend 5. The longevity dividend: Work in an era of 100-year lives

Forward-looking organizations see extended longevity and population aging as an opportunity. Twenty percent of this year’s survey respondents said that they are partnering with older workers to develop new career models. This longevity dividend enables companies to both address a pressing societal issue and tap into a proven, committed, and diverse set of workers. However, doing this requires innovative practices and policies to support extended careers, as well as collaboration between business leaders and workers, to tackle shared challenges such as age bias and pension shortfalls.

Trend 6. Citizenship and social impact: Society holds the mirror

An organization’s track record of corporate citizenship and social impact now has a direct bearing on its core identity and strategy. Engagement with other stakeholders on topics such as diversity, gender pay equity, income inequality, immigration, and climate change can lift financial performance and brand value, while failure to engage can destroy reputation and alienate key audiences. Many organizations are still catching up: 77 percent of our respondents say that citizenship is important, but only 18 percent say this issue is a top priority reflected in corporate strategy.

Trend 7. Well-being: A strategy and a responsibility

As the line between work and life blurs further, employees are demanding that organizations expand their benefits offerings to include a wide range of programs for physical, mental, financial, and spiritual health. In response, employers are investing in well-being programs as both a societal responsibility and a talent strategy. More than 50 percent of survey respondents view a variety of such programs as “valuable” or “highly valuable” to employees, but big gaps remain between what employees value and what companies are delivering.


Organizations are looking to capitalize on the benefits of a surge of new AI-based software, robotics, workplace connectivity tools, and people data applications, while also mitigating potential downsides and unforeseen effects. These tools and investments can help to redesign work architecture, lift productivity, and enhance people efforts, but organizations must also pay attention to and respect their impacts on the workforce as a whole.

Trend 8. AI, robotics, and automation: Put humans in the loop

The influx of AI, robotics, and automation into the workplace has dramatically accelerated in the last year, transforming in-demand roles and skills inside and outside organizations. Perhaps surprisingly, those roles and skills focus on the “uniquely human” rather than the purely technical: Survey respondents predict tremendous future demand for skills such as complex problem-solving (63 percent), cognitive abilities (55 percent), and social skills (52 percent). To be able to maximize the potential value of these technologies today and minimize the potential adverse impacts on the workforce tomorrow, organizations must put humans in the loop—reconstructing work, retraining people, and rearranging the organization. The greatest opportunity is not just to redesign jobs or automate routine work, but to fundamentally rethink “work architecture” to benefit organizations, teams, and individuals.

Trend 9. The hyper-connected workplace: Will productivity reign?

New communications tools are rapidly entering the workplace. Seventy percent of respondents believe workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms in the future, 67 percent see growth in “work-based social media,” and 62 percent predict an increase in instant messaging. But as these tools migrate from personal life to the workplace, organizations must apply their expertise in team management, goal-setting, and employee development to ensure that they actually improve organizational, team, and individual performance and promote the necessary collaboration to truly become a social enterprise. Like the outside world, organizations are becoming hyper-connected; can they also become hyper-productive?

Trend 10. People data: How far is too far?

The rapid increase in data availability and the advent of powerful people analytics tools have generated rich opportunities for HR and organizations—but they are now also generating a variety of potential risks. While more than half of our survey respondents are actively managing the risk of employee perceptions of personal data use, and a similar proportion is managing the risk of legal liability, only a quarter are managing the impact on their consumer brand. Organizations face a tipping point: Develop a set of well-defined policies, security safeguards, transparency measures, and ongoing communication around the use of people data, or risk employee, customer, and societal backlash.

A call to action

The 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report sounds a wake-up call for organizations. The rise of the social enterprise requires a determined focus on building social capital by engaging with diverse stakeholders, accounting for external trends, creating a sense of mission and purpose throughout the organization, and devising strategies that manage new societal expectations. At stake is nothing less than an organization’s reputation, relationships, and, ultimately, success or failure.

In this new era, human capital is inextricably tied to social capital. This reality demands a fundamental pivot in how organizations do business today—and how they prepare for the human capital challenges of the future.

Appendix A: Trend importance by region, industry, and organization size

Trend importance by region
Trend importance by industry
Trend importance by organization size (number of employees)

Appendix B: Survey demographics

Respondents by region
Respondents by industry
Respondents by organization size (number of employees)
Respondents by job function
Respondents by level
Country in which respondent works


By Popular Demand: 30 More Free Books!!

30 free copies of Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People

Leave a comment on this guest post by Mark Miller to become eligible to win one of THIRTY complimentary copies of Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People.

(Deadline: 3/4/2018)

Last week’s winners have been notified! 

*International winners will receive electronic versions.

In last week’s guest post, I shared one of the major finding from our Talent Magnet research: Top Talent wants a Better Boss. But what else?

One of the most important considerations for Top Talent, when deciding where to work, is the impact of today’s job on tomorrow’s opportunities. Top Talent is always pursuing a Brighter Future.

Top Talent has more of a future orientation than typical talent. Obviously, many organizations can benefit from an infusion of workers who are concerned about the future. The challenge is systematically and proactively helping Top Talent create their own preferred future while they serve the organization.

Realizing very few adults will remain in one organization throughout his or her career, Top Talent sees each role they accept as an opportunity to prepare for a Brighter Future. Therefore, they come to the job market with a different set of questions than others seeking employment.

If I take this job . . .

  1. How will I grow?
  2. How will I be challenged?
  3. What opportunities will I have?
  4. How will I be more employable in the future?

These questions, and others like them, will require many organizations to be more strategic in their people development.

While it is widely considered a “best practice” for individuals to own their personal development, Top Talent wants to know how the organization will help them grow. This assistance can take many forms, from in-house training classes to tuition reimbursement, coaching, mentoring, and more.

The point is not to think of one idealized Brighter Future and attempt to deliver it; the definition will vary from person to person.

What is required from you is a commitment to help your most talented people become the architects of their own future. Then, you will be well on your way to becoming a Talent Magnet!

How might leaders help talented people become architects of their own future?

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of seven books, an in-demand speaker, and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. In his latest book, Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People, Mark reveals the three critical aspects of a true Talent Magnet, and explores the daily implications for leaders

How To Deal With A Disciplinary



How To Deal With A Disciplinary. #NewToHR

You know it is coming your way and the open office offers few great hiding places.

The heavy footsteps of your boss leaving his desk… make the coffee in your mug tremble… and all your colleagues around you notice the change of color on your face.

Suddenly, you feel an itch on the back of your head, and you know the target is locked and loaded.

No, you are not about to be named the Employee Of The Month…

Instead, management wants to have a WORD with… YOU!

Getting Disciplinary Action – is one of the most tormenting events an employee can go through. Having that finger pointed at you, waiting for the fallout, is one of the worst feelings anyone can experience in the workspace!

The good news is that you are not the only one to have to go through this ordeal. Even better news is that most Disciplinary Actions are not a result of real problems, but rather a consequence of poor communication (internally) and possibly under-performance.

Before you go down into a deep black hole and embark on the bureaucratic nightmare of proving your ‘innocence’- sit back, relax, and look at what it actually means.

A disciplinary is no longer what it used to be.

Back in the good old days, your boss, the Pharaoh, would have administered a painful disciplinary measure for each second you did not spend pulling those heavy limestone blocks up to the top of the Pyramid. Forget about having the right to enquire about the allegation(s), attend a disciplinary meeting, or even have the right to appeal. The workers of the past, either bowed their heads or faced something worse than a lifetime of hard physical labor.

Suddenly, walking into the office tomorrow, after a disciplinary today, and facing your ‘boss’ does not sound so bad.

The problem of discipline in the workspace is as old as time itself, and the reasons are simple.

A work contract is basically a form of negotiation that is always pushing things right to the edge. There should be no secret that an employer wants to have a productive employee and you as an employee want a supportive employer. The “I scratch your back, if you scratch mine” can easily leave painful marks – if one side steps outside this perimeter – conventionally limited at the beginning of each work agreement. In the worst case scenarios, all that scratching leads to a catfight, a cold war of threats and warnings that can ruin work relationships and turns the office into a battlefield for peer warfare!

The first step towards dealing with a disciplinary as an employee is to understand the ‘crooked‘ mechanism underlying such an action.

The dictionary definition leaves no doubt on what discipline means in the mind of many employers,

punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.

Zoom in on the first two words and picture your office building having this engraved on its’ front – “An eye for an eye.”

For those with a wild imagination ? the HR department becomes an sweatshop with the only purpose of inflicting progressive pain and preventing you from building tolerance. Oh, and they have no stop word other than – “I quit.”

Traditional methods of running companies still rely on UNHEALTHY disciplinaries to get their employees back on track.

If we expand the Egyptian Pyramid example, that means… extra punishments for you!

But is ‘pain‘ the best of motivators?

This type of discipline is still allowed in companies today and does nothing more in our eyes than leading to a build up of employee stress and eventually unhealthy workplace escalations. The problem is obvious!

The traditional system spends little to no resources on understanding the root causes, focuses on documenting the issue rather than solving it, and relies on fostering a negative spectrum of emotions. No wonder you felt like a 9-year-old pupil when you received that first verbal warning!

Your employer did not force you to sit in the corner and wear the cone of shame, but the angry gaze of your boss (and peers) made you feel just like the time you misbehaved in school.

Traditional disciplinary systems rely mostly on one-way communication and make use of a child-adult kind of standoff. Obviously, there is the arguement that it may be the proper way to handle the situation, if you claim your dog ate the last KPI report or if you blame global warming for showing up late after that light rainstorm.

But for the other 99% cases, employee counseling and working with the employee – instead of ‘punishing’, is the right ingredient to establish that alchemy of success!

Now comes the silly question.

Why do companies still hesitate to have this organic and evergreen approach?

The answer lies somewhere between treating employees like command-obeying machines and hesitating to breach the traditional hierarchies with conversations that can get too personal – emotion – is still a very difficult topic.

The traditional HR professional will follow their dusty 180-page employee handbook (that once included corporal punishment), as this is just simpler and worry free with ‘less’ legal implications.

You see, most disciplinary actions are conducted the same way when someone pokes the beehive; each intrusion is bolder and has a more disruptive potential.

Following the old guidelines, helps HR document and build the case, that would justify the company’s action against you. As an employee, the bad news is that you are not the one who gets to pick the game!

Whether your company opts for a traditional discipline system or goes for the counseling approach, your best bet is to distinguish correctly between the two and act accordingly.

Being disciplined is particularly disruptive to your ego. Expressing your emotions immediately – fear, anger, and resentment, usually only feeds and attracts more ‘punitive’ measures.

Turning into an office stoic, a Gandhi, and choosing the path of the least resistance may be one of the ways to cushion the conflict. But the lack of opposition on your part, has the downside of potentially making you appear weak, so it ONLY should be used with caution.

Of course, we also do not advise you to go for independence – and scare your colleagues with extended periods of quiet strikes in front of the office. There are no pages in history reserved for workplace heroes and their acts of passive protests against the establishment – when they go through a disciplinary (and/or grievance) process.

The other approach is much simpler.

If they come to you waving the white flag and offering peace, do sit down with – your boss and disciplinary chair – at the negotiation table.

Some say that wars first made their way into human society, because tribes of individuals spoke different languages and could not negotiate with each other. Every company has its Tower of Babel stretching from the ground all the way up to management.

Most of the conflicts occur, because managers, employees and their teams do not spend enough time communicating and making their verbal statements clear.

Counseling requires from you to be sincere and willing to open.

Everything that might prevent you from being a ‘productive employee; behaving ‘properly’, being on time, complying with the ‘company’s quality standards – has to be highlighted and paired with a (performance) solution. For you personally, this may even involve dissecting your personal life and putting your closet full of skeletons up for the Autum – Halloween yard sale.

And please DO NOT act like an angry person that never bothered to remove the thorn in their foot, you are both working together towards a way to fix the ‘issue’.

As always, there is a third way for an employee to deal with a disciplinary.

Pleasing Ares, the God of War, can be your ticket out of a fierce clash with a company that likes to see you in that ‘blackhole’. And there is extended literature on what an employee should do, if they are accused and feel mistreated.

What you need to do is build up a case, just like the lawyers do before heading for the courthouse.

Verba volant scripta manent.

= Spoken words fly away, written words remain. Write this Latin proverb somewhere on a post-it and read it each time you are in need of defending your work or role.

Justice can be on your side, but it is pointless – if you lack the means to tell your story to a third party accurately. An employee appealing against disciplinary action can do two things;

  1. express your intention, and
  2. explain why you do not agree.

Cases where workers emerge victorious following their arduous fight with the company ‘sharks’ occur more often than you can imagine. However, most of these are pyrrhic victories.

Yes, you can escape a disciplinary with your head up (and your backside not kicked), but the long terms costs can make your celebration bitter. Nothing ruins workspace karma like going all the way with legal action. You can earn your right to remain in the company, but how would you react to see your photo taking its place on the dartboard in the lounge room? Or, hear an awkward coughing each time your name is heard across the office.

Being public enemy number one – can ruin your relationship with other colleagues and turn you into the lone wolf, that follows the pack from a safe distance.

[We know that this should not be the case with all the legal employee protections out there, but in many cases it is and we just want to be honest about situations like the above. We always advice (if it is necessary) go for it ? but do understand the possible emotional impact on wellbeing and health for everyone (incl. your family) involved.]

Of course, receiving a disciplinary warning does not always have to lead up to a joust with your employer!

Verbal warnings are the ones easiest to misinterpret

That is because the supervisor giving you “the talk” is compelled by human nature. It gets even worse when you share a strained relation with the person that has to ‘reprimand’ you. It is almost impossible to get past the feeling that your boss or supervisor has a personal feud with you, and now found the right pretext to take it out in the open.

Verbal warnings tend to be cumbersome and hard to digest. However, the worst part about them is that they can also be vague…

Warnings like “You’re not a team player!” or “You did again!” are not exactly illuminating on the matter that caused discontent and will not give you the proper tools to address the issue.

Take the time to talk to your manager or send a polite email asking for further clarification. (…at this time start documenting everything, and I mean everything!)

Use the patience of a highly trained call-centre worker listening to a difficult client, as this can get you past some of the most absurd and abstract warnings you will ever receive in your career.

Another trick is to treat warnings of any kind, as a form of ‘constructive’ feedback. You should express your ‘gratitude’ for receiving it, but also feel ready to ask for and give constructive criticism ?

Let us talk about what you should NOT do in case of a disciplinary.

Ignoring it and hoping it will go away when you are at home with that mild cold that just came on. Ignorance is bliss, but not in these work related matters!

Failing to address a good reproach can fuel more severe actions in the future. Always think about the cost of your ‘inaction’.

Acquire the ability to read between the lines and do some remote sensing around the office, to see if the ‘plot’ against you is real or just joke material for those awfully long coffee breaks – the latter does happen (even in today’s modern HR world).

Cheer up!

As somber as it might sound, having Disciplinary Action directed at you does not have to end with a dismissal or a resignation!

Heck, in the majority of cases it will turn you into a better employee. Your career is going through some growing pains, which is perfectly normal.

Remember school? As far as the bad finals go, no one got hurt after stepping into the principal’s office.

Why would you fear of going through a similar process now when you are a grown-up?

Send your dark thoughts to the shredder and step into the Disciplinary whirlpool committed to support your cause!

© New To HR


The Path to Success: Communicating the Culture

The Path to Success: Communicating the Culture

Effective communication is the lynch pin to building a strong culture based on trust. A 2013 survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development concluded that less than 29% of workers have a high level of trust in their company’s leadership. This failure in trust can most often be traced back to a failure in communication. Communication from management is often unclear, inadequate, or inconsistent.

Common misconceptions senior management often have about communication:

  • Employees don’t have a grasp of the difficult issues.
  • There is no need to communicate unless it is critical.
  • Employees should only hear positive information.
  • Middle managers consistently share information.

These misconceptions often lead management to make poor communication decisions. A company without strong communication creates an information vacuum. The team will readily fill this vacuum with misinformation and conjecture. Executive management must stay ahead of this “grapevine” while building a strong culture.

In today’s culture of instant communication and the ability to rapidly gather information, it is often difficult to stay ahead of the grapevine. The best hope to stay ahead is to build a process that will manage the flow of important messages quickly and effectively. The good news is there are many new and effective forms of communication media. Combined with tried-and-true techniques, they will give management the ability to direct and effectively communicate the culture.

Even in smaller organizations, it is important to have a process to manage the flow of information. Organizations with strong cultures assign a member of senior management to guide communication within the company. This simple step will significantly strengthen your culture.

Once responsibility is assigned, a process can be built. It is crucial to understand that building and communicating the culture is a fluid process. This requires a methodicalyet flexible approach.

Consider embracing these best practices:

  • 99.5% of employees text. Use mass text messages for fast or emergency communication.
    • For example: “Computers are down. We will notify you when systems are restored.”
  • Webinars/Videos for short technical training sessions or for companywide announcements.
  • All companywide communications are archived on the company’s intranet.
  • Critical information is delivered by voice/meeting. Never by email.
  • Email is used only as form of back up communication.
  • Potentially negative information is always delivered in a meeting format.
  • Create a special email address for information management.
  • Monthly Newsletters to build a positive flow of information.

One of the primary failures of communication today is the overuse of email. If the “boss’s” communication can be dismissed with the click of a mouse, it can be dismissed all together.

The most effective communication must be delivered in the medium preferred by the recipient. This fact alone should change how information is conveyed. In today’s fast-paced world of instant communication the effort to converse must be multi-faceted. Using a combination of media will insure the team hears and absorbs the cultural message. Using this method over time will improve the team’s performance.

As the culture is constructed, understand the target audience and how they will view the multitude of messages they receive on a daily basis. Using multiple forms of media will control the flow and quality of information, strengthen the culture, and create a high performance team.