Maintaining a balance across all of the needs and requirements of your customers, employees and shareholders can be a headache for any business. In the current climate, there are an increasing number of such headaches, of which four seemed particularly resonant from the conversations I have recently had with my network.
Considering the biggest challenges business leaders are looking to overcome I selected four clear points of interest for a recent poll. The results were valuable indicators of the current business situation.
Hiring/keeping top talent
Adapting to new market trends
Balancing WFH - back to office
In the poll the results were revealing. Here are the details:
Balancing WFH - back to office: 14.9%
The area where there are apparently the fewer challenges was the question of Work From Home vs Back to Office: where your team actually does their work. This is still a concern for some people and we have seen over the past 6-12 months, more and more companies bringing their teams back to their desks in the offices where they always were.
A Tokyo Shōkō Research survey recently found that over 70% of Japanese companies were no longer offering work from home as a working style for their employees. As a contrast, many of the candidates I talk to expect to have at least a day or two per week. Some still change their jobs because they want more flexibility in their working style. Last year an Accenture study found that 85% of people felt they could be productive wherever they worked. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that many companies will still want to invest in office space, and that the areas surrounding office blocks will continue to depend on businesses for their own commercial success.
Digital transformation: 18.8%
More and more companies are onboarding new technologies and systems to improve internal processes: in another article earlier this year we considered the automation of accounting systems to make more time for finance professionals to analyze results and discover insights on company performance.
Robotics is a burgeoning field for manufacturing and supply chain operations. Other companies are simply looking for a way to move their accounting processes away from Excel and implement a rudimentary ERP system. In a conversation with a CEO in the retail industry a few weeks back I heard about a finance team who were “allergic to tech” and this highlighted that we have some way to go with DX.
Adapting to market trends: 29.7%
The agility to move with the market and stay relevant is a key aspect to business leadership and success. A strong brand and a solid strategy need to be socially relevant, sustainable and focussed on the needs of both your customers and your team.
This has been seen in recent years with the growth of ecommerce and the value of having a strong social media presence. Spending on social media continues to grow - 2021 saw $105Bn invested in social media marketing - and is showing no sign of slowing.
Another area of high value is big data and machine learning. Companies such as Netflix have estimated that big data analytics saves $1Bn per year in customer retention.
Hiring/retaining top talent - 36.6%
By far the highest number of respondents explained that they were having the toughest time finding and retaining the best people for their teams. In a candidate short market, the challenge to hire, and retain, a strong team is so continually present that it’s almost a cliche.
As we shift to a retained model, our clients, more and more, value the opportunity to partner with us to conduct robust searches into the market and prevent mis-hires. On a related note, the challenge is not just to hire good people but also to create an environment where they are motivated to stay. The flexible working style highlighted above is one, but it’s also important to provide an arena where career development and learning opportunities are both possible. It has also been refreshing in recent years to see companies even rewarding employees for taking all of their paid holiday.
What are your thoughts on the challenges you are facing in business leadership? How can these challenges be overcome? Please comment below, and feel free to contact me for a chat about your experiences over recent years.