Welcome to the Era of Social Enterprise

Welcome to the Era of Social Enterprise

There’s a shift happening in the business world. Jeff Mike, VP and HR research leader of Deloitte Consulting, joins us to discuss “The Rise of the Social Enterprise.” This new trend shows businesses are shifting from “companies” to “institutions” that are integrated into the social fabric of society. Listen in as Jeff breaks down how this is changing the way organizations work — from the role of leadership to career development to new ways rewards and well-being are playing out in the workplace.


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Run Time: 24:16

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Brandon Laws: Hey Jeff. Great to have you on the podcast. Welcome.

Jeff Mike: Thank you. Glad to be here, Brandon.

Brandon Laws: So Deloitte released a report called “The Rise of the Social Enterprise” and I guess I should just start out by asking you, “What is a social enterprise?”

Jeff Mike: Deloitte does an annual study called the “Human Capital Trend Study.” So this year’s version for 2018 is entitled “The Rise of the Social Enterprise.”

At the core of the social enterprise is this notion that business is no longer just about dollars and cents or about organizations in a silo. It’s about much broader thinking in terms of how are you affecting or impacting the stakeholders in your ecosystem that may or may not be associated with just dollars and cents. So, it’s much, much broader than that.

Brandon Laws: What does it really mean to be a social enterprise? Like in terms of the way the organization behaves, maybe invest in its people, involved in the community, that sort of thing.

Jeff Mike: Yeah. So, one of the points that this is grounded in is there was an open letter to CEOs from Larry Fink at BlackRock earlier this year. And the notion of the social enterprise kind of stems from that. Really what he was saying in that letter is that a company’s ability to manage environmental, social and governance matters demonstrates the leadership and good governance that is so essential to sustainable growth.

So, it’s going beyond say this notion of branding and community service or corporate social responsibility to really engaging, in depth, in the issues that are facing not only businesses but our societies and the stakeholders as well. Just to be more specific, the notion of really rather than an organization looking from the inside out, the organization’s businesses are looking now from the outside in.

What are the social factors? What are the economic factors? What are the environmental factors that they need to take into account in order to build sustainable growth and sustainable enterprises?

“Businesses are taking a bigger role in their communities and among their stakeholders looking beyond their walls to how are they impacting society and culture.” – Jeff Mike, Deloitte Consulting

Brandon Laws: Early on in the introduction for the report, it talked about how organizations are really shifting from business enterprise to social enterprise. I imagine that’s what you mean by inside out versus outside in is that business enterprise is probably looking at – from the internal versus now, they’re really thinking about how does it impact the greater good from the outside. Is that kind of what I’m hearing? And why is that?

Jeff Mike: Yeah. So, in the past years, we’ve focused on inside. What’s happening inside organizations in terms of teams of teams or networks of teams, in terms of digital transformation? Really looking at things like productivity from the inside or looking inside the organization out. Now that shifted with all of the things that have happened in our environment and in our culture and society over the past years.

So, including, but not limited to, things like “Me Too,” immigration issues, some of the things in terms of gun safety. In terms of the big issues that are facing us, because there’s a lack of confidence in government as identified by the Edelman Trust Survey, there’s more confidence in businesses to be able to address these.

So, businesses are taking a bigger role in their communities and among their stakeholders looking beyond their walls to how are they impacting society and culture and their – we will say their ecosystems – on a broader level. So that’s what we mean by that outside in look instead of the inside out look, which had been the focus in previous years.

Brandon Laws: In doing research for this report in particular, what size of organizations were you looking at? Because I’m really curious where this trend is happening. Is it happening with the larger enterprise level organizations or is it really just happening across the board from the small business, medium-sized, all the way to enterprise?

Jeff Mike: Yeah, it’s happening all across the board. So, for this particular study, we had over 11,000 respondents across 124 countries. So that’s business leaders from around the world from all sizes of organizations who are responding to our survey.

Brandon Laws: This report really dives deep in 10 trends that created an integrative view of the social enterprise and I would love to dive through all of them. But we don’t have time for that. So, I kind of cherry-picked a few of the trends and I was hoping we could dive through some of them.

Jeff Mike: Sure.

Brandon Laws: So, trend number one I thought was a really good place to start. It’s the symphonic C-suite teams leading teams. So, I wanted to ask you. What role do C-level execs, HR leaders and individuals play as it relates to that trend number one?

Jeff Mike: Sure. I would highlight the data here and I think it’s really important that 73 percent of the respondents had C-suite leaders rarely, if ever, together on projects or strategic initiatives. Eighty-seven percent rated the C-suite collaboration as important or very important. What that means is that these problems, these challenges or these opportunities that we have are so fast-moving and so complex that one perspective or one initiative alone isn’t going to be able to address those issues. You need multiple perspectives to be able to address what the implications are of say like a “Me Too” on not only your customer base but your workers, your employment brand, your overall corporate brand, you know, governance.

What does it mean in terms of big picture? So, the C-suite, certainly the CEO and the C-level executives need to work together to bring these different perspectives to solve these more challenging problems and then move out on them in a coordinated way.

Now similar to what we talk about in terms of diversity and inclusion in order to solve more specific customer problems, you need these multiple perspectives and multiple resources moving towards more challenging opportunities or problems in this society or in the ecosystem.

Brandon Laws: What’s interesting to me about this trend is, number one, it seems like you’re really wanting to break down the silo effect that you have when – you know, you have somebody at the top of the C level where they might just oversee a function but they don’t necessarily collaborate with these other functions in the organization.I think that’s what you sort of mean by teams leading teams is a collaborative effort at all levels. Is that what I’m hearing you say?

Jeff Mike: Yeah, that’s correct and that’s something that we’ve seen in our high impact human resources research and some of our other research is that the more collaborative and integrated organizations are, the more effective they are at meeting business and workforce outcomes. So yes, we’re pushing collaboration from top to bottom throughout the organization.

Brandon Laws: Then trend number three, I wanted to talk about this one. So new rewards — personalized, agile and holistic. What’s wrong with the way rewards are today in organizations?

Jeff Mike: What we talk about in terms of our rewards is best fit instead of best practice. So, for a long time, rewards have been kind of this – and there’s still some validity to it. I’m not saying throw everything out. There has been this notion of, “What is the market saying? What are a few of the offerings we can provide and then what are we going to get the most bang for our buck out of?”

With this increasing focus on individualization and personalization and the employee experience, we’re seeing a much more diverse set of expectations from different generations or different demographics in the workforce.

So, the one size fits all, even if it’s a best practice, doesn’t really work as well as something that’s more focused on individual preferences, focused on what is the best fit for a given context – and a given organization — versus a best practice across an industry.

You know, for example if you’re trying to do salary surveys and you’re looking at an industry or one size organization as kind of a block. If you look at only kind of those larger trends, you’re missing a lot of the nuances at the team or at the individual level that can actually have more impact on your workers than say something that’s a little bit more broad or generalized.

Brandon Laws: So, what’s the best way to figure out what people really want? I mean is it as simple as in a one-on-one meeting you’re asking employees what kind of rewards that they value versus the cookie-cutter approach? Like oh, I’m going to get my health benefits and I’m going to get maybe some flexibility in my work. What are you doing to really customize based on what people want today?

Jeff Mike: So, think about – we like to think about – similar to the way employee engagement works. We will do surveys. We will do pulses. We will do interviews and follow-ups for employee engagement and it’s very similar in the reward space. Maybe not exactly the same type of implementation because there’s going to be different considerations, rewards for example, but a little bit more regulated than employee experience.

But take a multifaceted kind of sensing approach and listening approach to your rewards offerings rather than here’s our annual rewards plan. We’ve done a few interviews. You know, the numbers line up. So, let’s move forward. It’s almost like here’s what we’re offering. Give us your feedback. How can we adjust? What is more effective for you as an individual, more effective for you as a team?

So generally speaking, you want to do surveys. You want to do rewards optimization, techniques. You want to do focus groups and other types of feedback.

So multi – I would say a multifaceted listening approach as well as making sure within the bounds of rewards and regulation, being responsive to those.

Brandon Laws: So, trend number four, from careers to experiences, new pathways, are the skills that individual have today, are they going to be the skills of the future?

Jeff Mike: The skills of the future, it’s hard to define what the skills of the future are. We can look – right now half-life of skills is something like 2.5 years, which means that half of the skills that you learn now will be obsolete in 2.5 to 5 years. So, with things changing so rapidly, it’s difficult to say what are the skills going to be, what the – or even competencies. What is going to be critical though is the ability to be able to learn on the job, to be able to apply what you’re learning in your specific domain area. You know, let’s say it’s marketing or software development or HR or finance.

Because things are changing in those worlds so quickly, the key of skill is going to be able to learn what the business needs, to be able to adapt and be able to apply what you’re learning for a given context. So yes, there’s value to specific skills-based learning. You know, learning a coding language or learning about digital marketing. But more importantly is the notion that these things are going to continue to evolve until your mindset has to be – they’re going to continue to evolve and I’m going to continue to grow as the field changes.

Brandon Laws: I think that’s such a really good point where we don’t really know what the skills of the future are going to be needed. So, your point really is we’ve got to learn and we’ve got to be nimble with the way things are going. I’m really curious how organizations can play a role in making sure that their people get the skills that they need along the way. So, what are organizations doing to make sure that their people are successful in the future?

Jeff Mike: Well, it’s a multifaceted approach in terms of learning. What we’re seeing in a lot of our research is this notion of learning and work converging. So, it’s important for organizations to be able to design environments where – or work processes where – that learning can happen kind of in the flow, as we’re saying it.

So, for example, a really basic example could be making sure that there’s the culture or the environment to ask questions, to do some experimentation, but also to make sure the learning tools are there as needed. And learning tools can be everything from micro content someone can look up real quickly to try to figure out something or a dashboard of say customer feedback that says, “OK. Here’s what’s happening in your particular market or space right now. What can you do to adjust and to address those needs as the market is evolving?”

So, again I would say, recognizing this convergence of learning and work and then putting the learning and learning tools in the flow or in the process of the work as it’s happening, more specifically.

So, a good example is software developers or software tools have resources where yes, you might be able to go pick up some code. But you might also be able to open a question about a particular object or a particular design and have members of the community help you understand on how to apply maybe that certain section of code or that certain object in your application and making those tools available as you’re developing the software versus something you have to stop working. You know, go research and then figure out how to put back into the work.

Brandon Laws: So how much of the career development in this learning process is really on the individual versus what the organization can do to provide them the tools that they need?

Jeff Mike: Career management is more and more owned by the individual.

Brandon Laws: That’s what I would think.

Jeff Mike: I think it’s the organization’s responsibility to make sure that those opportunities are available and cultivated. So, it’s not one or the other. I think they operate in tandem. Again, it’s that the individual has to take charge of their career and what they want to learn and grow in order to enhance productivity and the retention. The organizations need to make sure that those opportunities and the context is there for the career development to happen.

Brandon Laws: Trend number seven, I wanted to talk about. It’s well-being, a strategy and a responsibility. So how does well-being play a role in the success of our organizations? Is it more like just the right thing to do or can it improve productivity and sustainability for the organizations long term?

Jeff Mike: Again, this is one of those things that goes beyond kind of the touchy-feely, you know, be-good-to-your-people type things that we’ve been hearing about for a long time. This is actually – as we look at – as we go beyond work-life balance into work-life integration, which may have been a term that you’ve heard before.

What are you doing to make sure your people don’t burn out? What are you doing to make sure they have the cognitive capacity to bring their best to the job versus just grinding out more hours or grinding out more work? So, there’s definitely – you know, in terms of taking care of your workers, that has not gone away. But the connections between productivity, between engagement, between retention are just that much more clear because we have more research and more ways to sense those sorts of things.

There’s lots of vendors out there who are recognizing things like overloads on mobile devices or time needed to disconnect and kind of refresh and maintain your intention. So, there’s a lot of vendors out there that are seeing this space as well, making it easier for organizations to really make sure their people – recognizing healthy people are more productive people I would say.

Brandon Laws: Well-being is a huge topic. Where should people start on that? I mean it’s – it could be as far as making sure they don’t burn out. It could be providing some resources. Like where do you even think people should start if they really haven’t put a focus on well-being?

Jeff Mike: I think just by recognizing that healthier people are going to be more productive people. I don’t think that’s a big secret. But we have some research on well-being providers. Actually, we’ve done a landscape of solution providers on well-being. I think again you want to think about the context of your organization. Where are the pain points? Understand and listen. Ask your workers and understand and listen. What are the challenges that they have in bringing their best or most productive selves to work?

One organization or even one geography or one business might be very different than another. So, it’s not a really simple answer. But just by asking the questions, “How and where can we improve well-being? Who is out there to help us think these things through?” Like I said, there’s a lot of solution providers as well, who can share their perspectives to help you figure out where to start.

Brandon Laws: Trend number eight is the one I want to end with. The hyper-connected workplace. Will productivity reign? What is, in your mind, the biggest challenge and changes with how we’re connecting with each other at work? Is it making us more productive, more distracted, more burned out? What’s your perspective on just the hyper-connectivity that we experience nowadays?

Jeff Mike: Yeah. It’s interesting. Josh Bersin used to share a graphic, and he still might, about productivity basically being flat since the Great Recession, 1.3 percent or something like that, despite all of this really cool technology that we have to help us become more connected. I think the challenge is, is if these are disparate systems.

I mean we have probably four or five different collaboration platforms in our organization. So, determining what to use when in order to make sure things are getting done, people are collaborating and more productive is important.

So, I would say there’s probably – because of this proliferation of different technologies in the workplace, there’s probably the sense of – there’s a sense of being overwhelmed where OK, now I’m texting people from work. Does that imply an immediate response? Or maybe if I’m collaborating with a team as an online platform – is a collaboration platform a better way to do this than texting? Email, we’ve heard about the tyrannies of email probably for a decade or so. Is that really the best way?

So, looking through all of these technologies being critical, what are the ones that are going to help my teams be most effective? And maybe staying away a little bit from the hype but maybe testing. We advocate for testing things on a small scale in organizations before you make them broader.

Testing specific technologies that will help not pull us apart and make us committed to everybody, but will help us focus on the things that we need to do that are going to add the most value. That’s probably – that’s the way we would suggest to go.

Brandon Laws: Well-said. So if people read this report, what do you want them to do as a result of this? It’s jam-packed with information. There are so many good tips and there’s lots of data in here that I didn’t even cover. But what should somebody do once they read this?

Jeff Mike: This is – when I explained this, I explained if there’s one takeaway, you have to get involved. There’s so much going on. These things are so important. There are so many people involved. How much time do we spend either at work or thinking about work? It’s that this is no longer somebody else’s problem. You need to get involved. Everyone from the CEO to the person on the front lines. Is there something you can do to affect these outcomes?

What is it for you or your experience? And start there.

Brandon Laws: Jeff, where can people get this report? Do you have it published on the website?

Jeff Mike: It’s published on the Deloitte website and there’s a QR code. So, if they actually – if they take an image of the QR code, all of the report will be available on their mobile device, but also they will have access to the data. They can slice the data by different segments in terms of geographies or businesses or sizes. So, there’s a lot of ways to actually interact with the data and it’s of course available on the website as well.

Brandon Laws: Awesome. Anything you want to point people to other than the report? Anything about you that you want to mention before we part ways?

Jeff Mike: No. I think just the final thought is this – this is the best time to be in the people and work business, if that makes sense. So much is happening. So much is changing on a broad scale, on an economic scale, globally and socially. This is the time to kind of set the rules and set the practices and really have an impact for how things are going to happen moving forward.

So, from my perspective in terms of HR, I cover HR research, this is the best time ever to be in HR. So, to me that means engage. Get involved.

Brandon Laws: Well said. Jeff Mike from Deloitte. Thank you so much for being part of the podcast. This was a lot of fun and go get this report, listeners. There’s so much good information in this.

Jeff Mike: Thank you.

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

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