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Revving for growth

As the transition into the new normal continues and the economy looks to rev up, it’s important for leaders to leave the pandemic mindset behind — that of caution and risk aversion — and adopt a bold mindset of optimism and growth. While 2022 was a good year of recovery, companies must place a greater focus on sustaining growth while continuing to prioritize the health and wellness of their people. In the current business landscape, those who will find success will likely be those who act first and do so the fastest. 

INCLUSIVE GROWTH WITH HUMANS AT THE CENTER
In the face of ongoing change, business leaders need to transform their processes as well as their organizations in order to grow. In a setting where there is tremendous competition for talent and high levels of burnout, successful transitions of any kind must start with people. In line with this, business leaders must take purposeful action to manage people through the transformation journey. 

Workers across industries are now increasingly evaluating possibilities based on higher income, greater flexibility in when and where they work, and better company culture. According to the 2022 EY Work Reimagined Survey, as much as 43% of employees say that they are likely to leave their workplace in the upcoming year, citing these reasons. Organizations need to reconsider their workforce planning now more than ever if they want to recruit and keep a diversified pool of top talent.

For companies to succeed as the talent war heats up, it is crucial that they place more emphasis on purpose, rewards, wellbeing, and belonging. To remain competitive, companies have to thoughtfully respond to evolving employee expectations and incorporate them into future talent programs and strategies. This includes programs relating to mobility and immigration, the challenges of which were intensified by the pandemic. Companies must also reassess their immigration policies and build a strategy that can align with their business goals while managing workforce expectations.

With human capital at a premium, the current experience-driven economy necessitates that businesses focus on their people as the key to delivering long-term value for any business. Organizations and their chief human resource officers (CHROs) will also need to rethink their workforce development programs to retain, train and nurture people with the right technical and behavioral skills required to meet the needs of the future. By identifying skills gaps, developing learning programs for reskilling, curating learning experiences and nurturing a culture of curiosity, organizations will be better positioned to make the training investments necessary for continuous learning.

However, it should be noted that placing humans at center does not just refer to employees — both employees and customers or clients should be at the core of any business tactics and long-term goals. In strategizing for growth, every choice, use of technology, and creation of a good or service must be seen through the eyes of the customer. Companies have significant opportunities to change the emphasis from an employee value proposition to human value proposition by developing new programs and solutions that prioritize the needs of the people first while still meeting stakeholder expectations. This ultimately paves the way for wholesome profits and a better working world.

OPPORTUNITIES IN ESG
Sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) cannot be excluded from the discussion of transformation and growth. Sustainability is focused on future generations, while ESG concerns are a matter of transparency for all stakeholders. Investors, employers and even the community increasingly hold companies responsible for a balanced ESG strategy capable of supporting strategic vision and corporate purpose. Though it was previously mentioned that 43% of employees surveyed in the above cited Work Reimagined Survey are open to leaving their companies for new roles, that figure drops to 12% if employees believe their company is positively impacting the world. 

As an example, the EY organization set a target to significantly reduce its carbon emissions and become net zero by 2025. It was one of the first professional service organizations to achieve carbon negativity as of October 2021, which means it is now reducing total emissions and either removing or offsetting more carbon than it is emitting. By achieving the status of carbon negative, EY demonstrates its commitment towards accelerated climate action and sustainability.

As businesses start reopening and expanding, they also have to be prepared for additional regulatory compliance in the form of the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requiring publicly listed companies (PLCs) to submit their annual sustainability report. Focusing on these ESG practices and factors is beneficial to both individual companies and investors, as it promotes the harmonization of management practices and calculates returns and risks to ensure the sustainable financial performance of organizations.

For leaders to embed sustainability at the heart of decision-making, they have to prioritize strategic goals while also taking business and sociopolitical contexts into account. They have to set clear targets aligned with a purpose-led strategy, and build a more robust approach in analyzing opportunities and risks from environmental and social changes. Last, they will need to instill discipline in reporting and non-financial performance management as a basis for continued adaptation.

FROM RECOVERY TO SUSTAINED GROWTH
The new era of work requires enterprises to embrace greater flexibility and develop their workforces as well as prioritize ESG as the new norm.  While economic conditions may seem somewhat despondent currently, we still believe that the global economy is ready to rev for growth, with companies taking the hard-earned lessons of the past few years and transforming them into performance drivers and new business opportunities.

While the journey ahead will still be challenging, it is imperative that we keep our eyes on the vision of building and restoring long-term value to our businesses as we continue to move towards a world of sustainable growth beyond the pandemic. Let us look to the rest of 2023 with renewed strength, optimism, and clarity of insight.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co. 

 

Wilson P. Tan is the chairman and country managing partner of SGV & Co.