Building trust will enhance
employee potential and leave
your people and your business
Net Better Off
September 23, 2020
What’s in this article
Leaders are taking more responsibility for workers’ holistic well-being and are actively seeking to earn their trust. Employees are expecting more from employers, particularly as they anticipate a post-pandemic world.
Our groundbreaking research found that by meeting six fundamental human needs through work, companies unlock their people’s full potential.
We call this framework “Net Better Off,” and its six dimensions are: Emotional & Mental, Relational, Physical, Financial, Purposeful and Employable.
It pays to make business personal: As employers boost these dimensions and create meaningful and trusting relationships with employees, they see an increase in business performance.
Trailblazing “Modern HR Leaders” are the catalyst for leaving employees—and the business—better off. This group exhibits a new ethos, pursues new skills and develops new collaborations.
The CHRO has emerged as one of the most vital roles in the C-suite, as organizations work to keep employees safe, employed, supported and equal. Modern CHROs recognize that trust is the new currency at work. That’s because trust enables them to architect or help create a culture that supports workers, grows the business and helps the broader community.
The peak of the pandemic has passed, and people have increasingly focused on whom to work for and where to do business. Organizations that are answering the call to take better care of their people have made progress so far and will win in the market of the future.
What do employees want? They are increasingly looking to their employer to help meet their individual “me” needs (physical, financial, employable, emotional/mental), their “me and you” needs (relational) and their collective “we” needs (purposeful). These shifting expectations offer CHROs the opportunity to reclaim one of their most fundamental missions: the care and resiliency of human workers. They are now able to rewrite a script that builds trust based on the fundamentals of what matters most to their people. And as our research demonstrates, it makes good business sense to do so.
In fact, the entire C-suite is rethinking their responsibility to workers. Prior to the pandemic, 35 percent of CXOs fully embraced the responsibility to support people’s holistic needs. In six short months, this has escalated dramatically to represent 50 percent of CXOs.
Unlock people’s potential—boost business
We engaged 3,200 senior executives (50 percent HR decision makers and 50 percent other CXOs) and 15,600+ workers spanning 15 industries and 10 countries in a comprehensive and first-of-its-kind study. This research uncovered a powerful finding:
By meeting six fundamental human needs through work, companies unlock their people’s full potential. We call this framework “Net Better Off,” and its six dimensions are: Emotional & Mental, Relational, Physical, Financial, Purposeful and Employable.
Our research found that 64 percent of a person’s potential—defined by their ability to use their skills and strengths at work—is influenced by whether or not they feel better off across these six dimensions. Conversely, less than 9 percent of unlocking potential can be explained by factors such as education, tenure, level, industry, geography and company size.
How do you score across the six Net Better Off dimensions?
But, it’s more than people’s potential that is unlocked—it’s also business potential. As employers boost these dimensions and create meaningful and trusting relationships with employees, they see an increase in business performance.
Examining five specific practices, we found that even in today’s weak GDP environments, organizations stand to gain upwards of 5 percent revenue growth, compared to the anticipated 2020 average company decline of -4.7 percent. Before the pandemic began during a strong and growing economy, organizations could realize double-digit revenue growth by engaging in the practices that leave their people better off.
A groundbreaking new model:Net Better Off addresses fundamental human needs
Based on our research before COVID-19, the Emotional, Relational and Purposeful dimensions were the strongest drivers of positive employee behaviors. During the pandemic, physical needs rose in importance for workers. However, relational needs remained high, as did employable and financial needs.
Pre-crisis, most organizational leaders were investing only in the Employable and Financial dimensions, and thereby failing to unlock the full potential of their people.
What to ask TODAY to be better off TOMORROW
Taking care of business by taking care of people: Five Sweet Spot Practices
Armed with a clear understanding of Net Better Off, we used statistical testing to sort through 20+ employer practices to determine which supported revenue growth and people reaching their potential. What emerged were five practices that, when taken together, form a sweet spot for investment—paying dividends for both individuals and the organization.
While it’s true that CHROs can be the architects of these practices, we found that they are developed and championed with input from individuals throughout the organization. The entire C-suite must collaborate to implement these practices and ensure they remain vibrant.
Sweet Spot Practices: The impact
Few organizations focus on Sweet Spot Practices despite associated positive workforce behaviors and financial rewards
The Modern HR Mindset
Modern HR leaders are those embracing a new role in the C-suite. They’ve moved beyond efficiency and process execution and see the future differently. They are creating experiences grounded in care for people and concern for their communities while accelerating the performance of the business.
This group is enabling employees to work creatively with new technologies. They also connect people results to business results and team in boundaryless ways that cut across levels and functions within the company. They are helping organizations achieve several goals simultaneously: enhancing relationships with workers based on trust and accountability, accelerating business performance, and creating positive societal change.
These goals are closely tied to the fact that Modern HR leaders feel much more responsible for leaving people net better off than their peers—2.3 times more responsible.
Modern HR leaders take more responsibility for people’s needs
What are the hallmarks of Modern HR leaders?
We found three ways in which these trailblazers approach their work differently than their peers in other organizations. They exhibit a new ethos, pursue new skills and develop new collaborations. More specifically, they adopt a new mindset and accountability toward their people, their business and the communities they serve.
They also develop new skill sets to support emerging roles within HR and focus on upskilling their workforce to better prepare for the future of work. And lastly, they operate in boundaryless ways by teaming across the organization in order to meet the needs of their people and achieve shared success.
Less than 20% within our study were Modern HR leaders. While a small group, it is a vital and emerging set who are charting a different course by putting people at the heart of all they do.
The Modern HR Mindset
Elevate people. Lift your business.
Ensuring your people are net better off is more critical now than ever—to support workers today when they need it most and strengthen their trust in the employer-employee relationship to reap benefits tomorrow.
The Net Better Off model enables individuals to work at their full potential. And it allows them to feel greater purpose at a time when many are seeking more meaning. Lastly, leaving people better off can help organizations drive minimal-to-moderate growth in a period when most businesses are being significantly challenged.
However, this reorientation requires Modern HR leaders who can solve the right problems in innovative, tech-forward ways and reshape how work is done in their organizations. It requires adopting a data-driven mindset to meet the core needs of people.
Modern HR leaders know that committing to making people net better off requires more than imaginative practices and policies. It means putting care and compassion at the heart of the work experience and building trust through transparency. People’s potential can change when they are sufficiently supported.
In the end, Modern HR is an ethos, not a function, that focuses on designing and shaping work and work experiences that unleash the full potential of individuals, teams, organizations and communities. Our workforce and communities are counting on CHROs — in concert with the rest of C-suite — to support them and emerge stronger from this crisis than before. The future of HR depends on how we seize this moment.
Business Sponsor: Eva Sage-Gavin Senior Managing Director, Global Talent & Organization/Human Potential Practice Lead