Having written about “the defining issue of our time” last week, it seemed like remarkably good timing that this week PWC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey should come to my attention now. It certainly makes for some interesting reading, not least because:
- The “defining issue of our time” did not even appear on the list.
- The insignificant number of HR related issues. In fact only two out of eleven could be said to fit that description: Availability of key skills (# 4 – identified by 72% of participants) and Lack of trust in business (#10 – identified by 55% of participants.) And it could easily be argued that the latter is not an HR issue.
This is not good news for the HR profession. Nor does it appear to be good news for employees either, as it suggests that employee issues are not high on the agenda either. Although employees can take some comfort that 48% of CEOs expected to increase headcount while only 21% expected to reduce headcount, the lack of any clear link to that “defining issue of our time” – creating economic opportunity – has to be a major concern. After all, a root cause of that issue was identified as the replacement of people with robots and the increase use of artificial intelligence (AI).
As previously indicated, I am also inclined to see the potential for job losses as a result of AI and the need to create economic opportunity as the defining issue of our time. You need look no further than the growing youth unemployment in so many countries for evidence of this. Thus I was extremely concerned by this difference and couldn’t help wondering if it was further evidence of the “paradox of management” and the ingrained attitude of debasing the human aspects of business as a result of considering employees exclusively as costs?
As a result, I decided to take a fresh look at the PWC list, with a view to assessing how many of these issues could be said to be self-inflicted. By that I mean, how many of the critical issues might be the consequence of extended bad business practices. Naturally the results are highly subjective but this is the list I came up with.
Even if you don’t agree, I think you will accept that they are all challenges that will be far easier to meet – or even avoid – if businesses make a greater commitment to their social responsibilities and empower their people to meet them. Here are some of my initial suggestions.
I doubt whether the list is exhaustive and it may be contentious, but at least they give a basis for moving forward. Needless to say, it is rooted in the belief that giving greater responsibility to your people; making them more accountable and committed to embedded values and good business practices, is the only way you will ever build the shared values and the culture and the ethos to create a credible brand with loyal customers. The PWC list is indicative of fears that reveal a backlash against real and perceived business malpractice and malfeasance where profit and self-interest have replaced sound commercial and economic thinking and risked killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
Unfortunately, self-inflicted or not, the CEO concerns identified are very real threats. Ultimately, we would all suffer if they become reality. Consequentially it is in everyone’s best interest to find a way to ensure that they don’t. Thus, despite the list’s failure to specifically identify “the defining issue,” it is implied by inversion. So, if their concerns are not to come to pass, it is essential to reverse the trend. And the only way to do this is to create greater economic opportunity.
My entire business is based on ideas as to how you could help bring this about. Perhaps we can work together to make it happen.
If you like what you have read contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can provide the catalyst to help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ : one where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, so embracing change and transforming – and sustaining – organisational performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.