Deloitte Study: Only 19% of Business Leaders Say They Are Ready to Lead Social Enterprise

Amid rapid technological, economic and social change, it is important for social enterprises to move beyond mission statements and social impact programs to put humans at the center of their business strategies, a new Deloitte study says.

In “Leading the Social Enterprise: Reinvent With a Human Focus,”  the Big 4 firm examines various ways organizations can change the experiences of the workforce to “build identity and meaning for workers.”

A social enterprise is a cause-driven business that exists to achieve a social mission. In the report, survey respondents – nearly 10,000  in 119 countries – say the role of the social enterprise is more important than ever and noted a positive link between leading the social enterprise and an organization’s financial performance.

In fact, 73% of industry-leading social enterprises expect stronger business growth in 2019 than in 2018, compared to only 55% of those where the social enterprise is “not” a priority. However, only 19% of respondents reported being “industry leaders” in their organization’s maturity as a social enterprise.

“What’s missing for many organizations is the focus on the individual and the day-to-day challenges that workers are facing,” says Erica Volini, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, U.S. human capital leader. “The reality is that while technology is helping organizations gain competitive advantage, if not managed appropriately, it can simultaneously mean that workers lose their identity in the workplace. We see a call to action for organizations to reinvent their approach to human capital with the worker in mind to create opportunities for continuous learning, accelerated development, and professional and personal growth.”

The report says, “As organizations look to effectively lead the social enterprise, they must adapt to the forces restructuring work and the implications to the workforce – both in composition and capability – while embedding a meaningful experience for workers.”

This focus on the workforce comes as more than 86% of respondents cited reinventing the way people learn as important or very important – the No. 1 trend for 2019. Lifelong learning has evolved from a matter of career advancement to workplace survival. However, even with this emphasis on learning, only 10% of respondents said their organizations are “very ready” to address this topic.

Organizations are also being challenged to “up their game” when it comes to the employee experience. This emphasis comes as only 49% of respondents believed that their organizations’ workers were satisfied or very satisfied with their job design and only 42% thought that workers were satisfied or very satisfied with day-to-day work practices.

“Over the last five years, issues related to productivity, well-being, overwork and burnout have grown,” said Jeff Schwartz, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, U.S. future of work leader. “As a result, organizations need to shift from the traditional employee experience to a new category we call ‘human experience,’ where relationships are enduring, learning is continuous, and work has meaning centered around human identity.”

Organizations are finding themselves in a job-seekers’ market as the war for talent rages on. “As organizations’ workforce needs drastically change, leaders should shift from focusing on acquiring talent to accessing capabilities. While the change may seem nuanced, taking a more expanded view of where skills can be found – whether it’s in automation, the gig economy or current employees – can pay dividends in today’s fast-paced and high-demand business environment,” says Volini.

The survey also reveals that the way many organizations compensate and reward workers is out of date. Today, only 11% of respondents felt that their rewards systems are highly aligned with their organizational goals and 23% do not feel they know what rewards their employees value.

“The combination of shifts in the work, the workforce, and the organization have created a new mandate for HR to shape the future,” says Heather Stockton, principal, Deloitte Global, global human capital leader. “But HR cannot do this alone. The entire organization, led by the symphonic C-suite, needs to come together to help organizations truly take the lead in the future of work.”