The COVID-19 pandemic, volatile economic implications, and protests against racial injustice are accelerating changes in the ways organizations in the US are working and investing in their employees. According to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Study, American business leaders have shifted expectations to take a more expansive view about an organization’s responsibilities to communities as a whole, extending success metrics beyond shareholder return and placing individual and societal well-being at its core.
Prioritizing collective responsibility
Empathizing and delivering on the needs of a broader range of stakeholders became a key trend that emerged in 2020 – and is likely to persist. Many US employers stepped up in 2020 to protect jobs and pay during business closures, support caregivers and provide sick leave. As a result, two in five American companies today say managing inclusively with empathy has become more critical for future resilience.
“We’re being challenged to rethink our individual and shared responsibilities to one another, to the institutions we work for, and to the societies and environments we live in. Contributing to collective responsibility will require businesses to balance purpose with profit to evolve as businesses that are more resilient, and ultimately more profitable,” said Mary Ann Sardone, US Talent Solutions Leader at Mercer.
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Gregg Passin, US Executive Solutions Leader at Mercer added, “Sustainable businesses have sustainable goals that factor in a multi-stakeholder approach. Tying ESG goals to the business’ core value proposition and embedding ESG metrics into executive scorecards are just two of the approaches we see US companies pursuing in 2021 to drive action. In fact, organizations that integrate ESG metrics into the CEO’s agenda are more likely to report high revenue growth.”
1. 60% of US HR leaders say their company has continued or stepped up the pace towards an ESG and multi-stakeholder business approach.
2. With COVID-19 revealing that not everyone’s future is equal, 55% of companies in the US are reexamining what is most relevant to different persona groups, signaling a shift towards greater personalization of inclusive benefits.
3. The biggest opportunity in sustainability strategies? To rethink how investments such as retirement portfolios can be directed toward sustainability — something just 8% of US companies do today.
Championing diversity and flexibility in all forms
While advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is hardly a new idea, the explosion of concerns spurred by racial violence and the Black Lives Matter movement has increased the urgency for improved analytics and understanding of employee needs when redesigning the workforce. Accountability and action on improving gender, race and wealth gaps will be front and center in 2021, and organizations in the US will invest more in DEI analytics and insights.
“With a focus on diversity comes the need for reinventing personalized and flexible solutions at work. This requires us to rethink flexibility as a whole: flexibility in policies, practices and benefits that will enable organizations to support people in their life and careers and deliver a better overall employee experience (EX).
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