I’m pretty sure you’ll be familiar with the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility.” It’s a long-standing idea and perhaps best known from the Spiderman franchise – but has the kind of enduring appeal that comes from touching on a great truth.

But for today’s talent leaders, another perspective holds true too. That is, with great responsibility comes great power.

Exciting new research from Accenture really highlights the evolving role of the CHRO, and the new expectations and opportunities for talent leaders. The research is built on surveys of more than 15,000 workers and 3,200 C-suite leaders in 10 different countries, including the UK, where we spoke with over 1,500 workers and 255 CXOs.

Econometric analysis of the survey data and performance of the organisations surveyed found that 64% of organisational performance is explained by six different dimensions in the workforce:

64% of work potential is explained by the six dimensions of Net Better Off.

We call these six dimensions “Net Better Off” collectively because cultivating them in the workforce will leave both an organisation and its people better off. In other words, taking responsibility for the workforce leads to great results for organisations.

One of the most interesting things about the Net Better Off dimensions is that they don’t all have the same impact on workforce behaviour. Our analysis shows that the strongest drivers of worker behaviour are the relational and emotional Net Better Off dimensions.

Yet leaders in the C-suite generally told us that they feel most accountable for the financial and employable dimensions, which actually have the smallest impact on worker behaviours.

So, what should these leaders be doing instead? Our research suggests five different practices that hit the “sweet spot” of growing workforce wellbeing and boosting revenue growth:

The first is to enable continuous workforce learning to ensure a future-ready workforce that can shift at scale. Efforts towards new skilling the workforce often focus on quickly developing capabilities that are urgently needed. However, with today’s skills landscape in continuous flux, a longer-term strategy will have powerful results. Leading businesses are using data analysis to anticipate the skills that will be used tomorrow. Plus, employees in the UK who experience continuous learning are more likely to recommend their employer compared to those who don’t (87% versus 32%).

The second is to listen to what your people need on the front lines and empower them with real-time data. Leaders here are using two-way applications that allow workers to interact and iterate with their employer. Establishing continuous feedback loops like this allows a company to flag trends and let individuals make their voices heard. In the UK, listening to employees in this way makes them more adaptable.

The third is to use technology to enable more flexible working arrangements and more room for creativity. Greater human-machine collaboration is at the heart of this practice. Organisations can train people to partner with intelligent devices to boost their efficiency and make them more innovative. Workers in the UK empowered in this way are more likely to feel fulfilled at work compared with those who are not (78% versus 24%). It’s important to be transparent about the purpose of the technologies you’re investing in here.

The fourth is to champion workforce well-being and equality. One of the major long-term impacts of the hectic events of 2020 is that our relational and safety needs matter more than ever. Leaders here are moving past ad hoc, standalone programs to offer comprehensive, fully funded mental and physical well-being programmes. They also give workers a voice in designing these programmes. Our research shows that workers in the UK who experience this put significantly more into their work compared with those who do not (88% versus 43%).

The fifth and final “sweet spot” practice is to set and share people metrics. This includes metrics for accountability, diversity, and equality. Not only can this help make an organisation a place where everyone can thrive, it can also be a powerful multiplier for innovation and growth. UK employees exposed to this report significantly more positive experiences with their employer (62% versus 22% otherwise).

These “sweet spot” practices are all win-win scenarios—and our research shows that a significant majority of workers are eager for them to take hold.

Chris Jones

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting

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