New Research Shows Dramatic Shift In Priorities Among Business Executives

This month Accenture introduced a two-year research project on the increasingly important role of HR, and it uncovered a dramatic shift in priorities among senior business executives..

The big finding? Business and HR leaders have dramatically changed their perspectives: employee wellbeing has replaced operating efficiency.

The research, which Accenture calls Net Better Off, involved interviews and surveys of 3200 business and HR executives and found that companies which focus on making employees “Net Better Off” are growing at more than 5% this year, while the GDP has dropped by over 4%. 

In other words, when you focus on making employees’ lives better, the business gets better as a result.

The six elements of Net Better Off are shown below. Each are clearly in line with all the best-practices we’ve seen this year as companies respond to the Pandemic. (Read our Big Reset: What’s Working Now research report for more details.)

What’s most interesting about this study, however, is the way the data changed from last year.

A Dramatic Shift: From Efficient to Resilient

The original project began in 2019 and was developed in partnership with Marriott, which has seen a dramatic downturn this year. Last year, as the study began, the #1 priority among Finance, CEO, and HR leaders was to “increase the service-delivery efficiency” of HR. In other words, most big companies were tuning and optimizing internal operations to be cost-effective, streamlined, and digitally-powered.

This year the focus has completely changed. As we detail in our Resilient HR program (which was developed in partnership with Accenture), executive focus has shifted. Today high-performing executives are focused on creating resiliency in the organization, helping employees respond and reskill, supporting workers in all phases of their lives. 

This shift has been dramatic. Operating models for HR departments have changed, and HR professionals are now playing a heroic role in safe workplace design, supporting work at home, and enabling teams to perform under constant uncertainty and stress. Digital tools are still important, but today they’re used to support agility, not efficiency.

Accenture’s research found that this shift is happening quickly. Prior to the Pandemic 35 percent of CXOs embraced the responsibility to support employee needs. Today it’s more than 50%. (Still far too low in my opinion – our new Business Resilience research shows that this is really the only way to recover from the Pandemic.)

net better off

If you’re trying to make a case for Resilient HR in your organization, I encourage you to read this research and join our Resilient HR Program. Not only will you learn all about this new operating model for HR, we’ll be inviting you to a whole series of special events over the coming months, designed to give you specific case studies and tools to help you build resilience in your company.