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The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward

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Deloitte Study: When Resilience Can Determine Organizational Survival, Only 16% of Business Leaders Expect to Significantly Increase Investment in the Continual Reinvention of the Workforce Over the Next Three Years

With COVID-19 creating urgency around workforce reinvention, it’s clear that while organizations have doubled down on investments in technology over the past decade, many have significantly underinvested in how humans could adapt to and embrace new ways of working.

Only 17% of respondents are making significant investments in reskilling to support their AI strategy with only 12% using AI primarily to replace workers;

At a time when workforce shifts are happening at warp speed, only 1 in 10 respondents are producing workforce insights in real time;

Just 27% of respondents have clear policies and practices to manage the ethical challenges resulting from the future of work despite 85% of respondents saying the future of work raises ethical challenges;

Three-quarters of leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, but only 45% are rewarding workers for the development of new skills; and

Only 45% of respondents are prepared or very prepared to take advantage of the alternative workforce to access key capabilities despite gig workers being likely to comprise 43% of the U.S. workforce this year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The need for a human focus has catapulted well-being and belonging into top concerns for organizations as the No. 1 and 2 trends, respectively, this year.

Twenty-six percent of respondents are not confident in HR’s ability to step-up and lead effectively, providing HR with the opportunity to demonstrate their strength to help organizations navigate the new normal created by the COVID-19 crisis.

Why it matters to business leaders
With the onset of COVID-19, organizations have had to take immediate actions in reaction to the pandemic, such as the shift to remote and virtual work, the implementation of new ways of working and redirecting the workforce on critical activities. Now organizations should be thinking about how to sustain these actions by embedding them into their organizational culture and DNA.

In its 10th annual 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” Deloitte examines ways to create that level of sustainability by finding the intersection between humans and technology and defining the core attributes that need to be embedded in the organization to create and sustain that integration. Having surveyed approximately 55,000 business leaders over 10 years, this is the largest longitudinal study of its kind.

Social enterprise at work and bringing purpose to the forefront
In just a few short years, the concept of the social enterprise has evolved from an intriguing new concept into a concrete business reality. This year’s report focuses on how the social enterprise can find the integration between technology and humanity at a time when humanity is in the spotlight as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This integration will enable lasting value and provide workers with an increased sense of belonging and well-being. In fact, almost half of this year’s respondents categorized their organization’s purpose as broadening extensively to include all stakeholders, including the communities they serve and society at large.

Based on our research, the three characteristics that need to be embedded into a social enterprise’s DNA to help them prepare for the future are: purpose (deepening the mission and values connection amongst teams, individuals and the work itself), potential (tapping into workers’ capability to contribute in new ways) and perspective (making bold decisions at a time of persistent change). Each requires significant shifts in workforce strategies and programs, but offers a clear path that organizations can follow to enable them to recover and thrive.

Worker well-being as an organizational responsibility through belonging
Although historically organizations were only responsible for workers’ safety, today nearly all respondents—96%—say that well-being is an organizational responsibility. Though 80% of respondents identified well-being as an important or very important priority for their organization’s success, 61% are not measuring the impact of well-being on organizational performance.

Well-being extends beyond physical health to employees feeling a sense of purpose and belonging. When asked how creating a sense of belonging supports organizational performance, 63% answered that it does so by enhancing alignment between individual and organizational objectives. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said that feeling aligned to the organization’s purpose, mission and values, and being valued for their individual contributions, are the most impactful ways to help ensure a sense of belonging.

Finding potential through the convergence of humans and technology
With the rapid integration of artificial intelligence (AI), workers are facing new realities of how they can work together with technology to bring out the best in one another. This year’s report found that only 12% of respondents said their organizations are primarily using AI to replace workers, while 60% said their organization was using AI to assist, rather than to replace, workers. Furthermore, 66% of respondents believed that the number of jobs would either stay the same or increase as a result of AI’s use in the next three years.

Building off last year’s chapter on “superjobs,” the concept of “superteams” combines people and machines, leveraging their complementary capabilities to help solve problems, gain insights, and create value—addressing a renewed sense of potential and creating new possibilities for the future.

Beyond reskilling and investing in resilience
With the “half-life” of technical skills decreasing, the use of forward-looking workforce metrics is critical for boards and investors to gain insights into the reskilling of workers. Yet organizations are least likely to collect workforce metrics in several critical areas, including the “status of reskilling,” with only 14% of respondents collecting analytics in this area. Organizations recognize that reskilling is important, with 53% of respondents saying between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. Yet, only 16% of business leaders expect to make a significant investment increase in the continual reinvention of the workforce over the next three years. With technical skills becoming outdated so quickly, organizations should be investing in longer lasting capabilities like creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and emotional intelligence that can keep their workforce relevant.

Although organizations are trying a variety of strategies to future proof their workforce, 68% of respondents report their organizations are currently making only moderate investments in reskilling or no investment at all. Thirty-two percent of respondents identified lack of investment as the greatest barrier to workforce development in their organization, with only 17% of respondents expressing confidence “to a great extent” that their organizations can anticipate the skills their organizations will need in three years.

Leaders must initiate and lead the dialogue around tech-related ethical concerns and the alternative workforce
A wide majority (85%) of respondents believe there are ethical concerns related to the future of work, including the maintenance of privacy, control of workers’ data, and the treatment of alternative workers. Twenty-seven percent of respondents say their organizations have clear policies and leaders in place to manage ethics in the context of the future of work, though 73% of respondents are either not addressing it, starting to develop their approach, or dealing with it on an ad hoc basis.

Organizations may be failing to recognize the importance of alternative workers, even as this workforce segment rapidly grows. For example, just 21% of organizations say their well-being strategy includes alternative workers. Looking ahead at the next decade, 80% of respondents rated “the radical shift in work, careers, and jobs due to AI and new employment models,” as important or very important. However, only 45% said they are prepared or very prepared for this shift—the lowest preparedness score for any of the issues surveyed as emerging challenges in the next 10 years. The ability to effectively tap into the alternative workforce can help organizations access scarce capabilities in rapidly changing work and job markets.

Closing the generational gaps through purpose
Age and career progression can no longer be seen on a linear path in the age of the “perennial.” With five distinct generations in the workplace, jobs have become more dynamic and complex than ever before. Leaders are taking notice: more than half of this year’s survey respondents (52%) report they consider generational differences to some or to a great extent when designing and delivering workforce programs. However, only 6% of respondents strongly agree their leaders are equipped to lead a multi-generational workforce effectively.

This year’s report revealed that respondents believe some generational gaps will become less pronounced in the next three years (views on work/life flexibility, expectations of loyalty/job security, and expectations of advancement), while others will become more pronounced (degree of technology-savvy, agility to shift roles, expectations of social impact).

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Collapsing consumer demand amid lockdowns cripple Asia-Pacific garment industry

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Women at work in a garment factory in Hai Phong, Viet Nam. © ILO

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered government lockdowns, collapsed consumer demand, and disrupted imports of raw materials, battering the Asia Pacific garment industry especially hard, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The UN labour agency highlighted that in the first half of 2020, Asian imports had dropped by up to 70 per cent.

Moreover, as of September, almost half of all garment supply chain jobs, were dependent on consumers living in countries where lockdown conditions were being most tightly imposed, leading to plummeting retail sales.

ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, pointed out that the research highlights “the massive impact COVID-19 has had on the garment industry at every level”. 

Ripple effect

In 2019, the Asia-Pacific region had employed an estimated 65 million in the sector, accounting for 75 per cent of all garment workers worldwide, the report reveals.

Although governments in the region have responded proactively to the crisis, thousands of factories have been shuttered – either temporarily or indefinitely – prompting a sharp increase in worker layoffs and dismissals.

And the factories that have reopened, are often operating at reduced workforce capacity.

“The typical garment worker in the region lost out on at least two to four weeks of work and saw only three in five of her co-workers called back to the factory when it reopened”, said Christian Viegelahn, Labour Economist at the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

“Declines in earnings and delays in wage payments were also common among garment workers still employed in the second quarter of 2020”.

Women worst impacted

As women comprise the vast majority of the region’s garment workers, they are being disproportionately affected by the crisis, the report tracked.

Additionally, their situation is exacerbated by existing inequalities, including increased workloads and gender over-representation, as well as a rise in unpaid care work and subsequent loss of earnings

Moving forward

To mitigate the situation, the brief calls for inclusive social dialogue at national and workplace levels, in countries across the region.

It also recommends continued support for enterprises, along with extending social protection for workers, especially women. 

The ILO’s recent global Call to Action to support manufacturers and help them survive the pandemic’s economic disruption – and protect garment workers’ income, health and employment – was cited as “a promising example of industry-wide solidarity in addressing the crisis”.

“It is vital that governments, workers, employers and other industry stakeholders work together to navigate these unprecedented conditions and help forge a more human-centred future for the industry”, upheld Ms. Miyakawa.

Nuts and bolts

The study assessed the pandemic’s impact on supply chains, factories and workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

It is based on research and analysis of publicly available data together with interviews from across the sector in Asia.

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A few ‘green shoots’, but future of global trade remains deeply uncertain

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Although global trade is making a frail recovery, the outlook remains uncertain, UN trade and development body UNCTAD said on Wednesday, in announcing its latest COVID-era update

Estimates show that world trade will drop by five per cent this quarter, compared with the 2019 level. While this is an improvement over the nearly 20 per cent decline in the second quarter of the year, it is still not enough to pull trade out of the red. 

Furthermore, UNCTAD expects the value of all good traded to contract by seven to nine percent compared to last year, depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves in the winter months. 

Uncertainty aggravating trade 

“The uncertain course of the pandemic will continue aggravating trade prospects in the coming months”, said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi. 

“Despite some ‘green shoots’ we can’t rule out a slowdown in production in certain regions or sudden increases in restrictive policies.” 

While the projection represents a decrease, the figure is a more positive result than previously expected, as UNCTAD had projected a 20 per cent year-on-end drop for 2020, back in June. 

Trade trends have improved since then, the agency added, primarily due to the earlier than expected resumption of economic activity in Europe and east Asia. 

China leads recovery 

The report points to China, which has shown a notable trade recovery. 

Chinese exports had fallen in the early months of the pandemic and stabilized in the second quarter of the year, before rebounding strongly in the next quarter, with year-over year growth of almost 10 per cent. 

“Overall, the level of Chinese exports for the first nine months of 2020 was comparable to that of 2019 over the same period”, the report said. 

Within China, demand for goods and services has also recovered.  Imports stabilized in July and August, and grew by 13 per cent in September.   

Growth and decline in Asia 

India and South Korea also recorded export growth last month, at four per cent and eight per cent, respectively. 

UNCTAD reported that as of July, the fall in trade was significant in most regions except east Asia.  

West and south Asia saw the sharpest declines, with imports dropping by 23 per cent, and exports by 29 per cent. 

The report also includes an assessment of trade in different sectors, with the energy and automotive industries hardest hit by the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, sectors such as communication equipment, office machinery, and textiles and apparel, have seen strong growth due to the implementation of mitigation responses such as teleworking and personal protection measures. 

Wealthy nations benefit from COVID-19 medical supply trade 

The report also gives special attention to COVID-19 medical supplies, which include personal protective equipment, disinfectants, diagnostic kits, oxygen respirators and related hospital equipment. 

Between January and May, sales of medical supplies from China, the European Union, and the United States, rose from $25 billion to $45 billion per month.  Since April, trade has increased by an average of more than 50 per cent. 

However, the authors found wealthier nations have mainly benefited from this trade, with middle and low income countries priced out from access to COVID-19 supplies. 

Residents of high income countries have on average benefited from an additional $10 per month of imports of COVID-19 related products.  This compares to just $1 for their counterparts in middle income countries, and 10 cents for those in low income nations. 

 UNCTAD warned that if a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, the access divide between wealthy and poor countries could be even more drastic. 

The report urges governments, the private sector and philanthropic organizations to continue mobilizing additional funds to fight the pandemic in developing countries and to support financial mechanisms that will provide safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries

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COVID-19 crisis puts migration and progress on integration at risk

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Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Governments need to secure the health and safety of all workers in essential activities and maintain spending on integration to help migrants continue to contribute to society and the economy, according to a new OECD report.

The OECD International Migration Outlook 2020 says that the COVID-19 crisis has had unprecedented consequences on migration flows. Before the pandemic, permanent migration flows to the OECD amounted to 5.3 million in 2019, with similar figures for 2017 and 2018. Although there were fewer refugee admissions, permanent labour migration rose by more than 13% in 2019 and temporary labour migration also rose, with more than 5 million entries recorded in the OECD.

Following the onset of the pandemic, almost all OECD countries restricted admission to foreigners.

As a result, issuances of new visas and permits in OECD countries plummeted by 46% in the first half of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. This is the largest drop ever recorded. In the second quarter, the decline was 72%. Overall, 2020 is expected to be a historical low for international migration in the OECD area.

There are strong signs that mobility will not return to previous levels for some time. This is due to weaker labour demand, persistent severe travel restrictions as well as the widespread use of teleworking among high-skilled workers and remote learning by students.

“Migration will continue to play an important role for economic growth and innovation, as well as in responding to rapidly changing labour markets,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson. “We need to avoid rolling back on integration and reaffirm that migration is an integral part of our lives.” 

Migrant workers have been on the frontline of the crisis. They account for a large share of the OECD medical workforce, with one in four medical doctors in the OECD, and one in six nurses. In many OECD countries, more than a third of the workforce in other key sectors, such as transport, cleaning, food manufacturing and IT services, are immigrants.

Yet immigrants are facing a hard time in the labour market. Much of the past decade’s progress in employment rates among immigrants has been wiped out by the pandemic. In all countries for which data are available, immigrants’ unemployment increased more, compared to their native-born peers. The largest increases for immigrants were observed in Canada, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States. In Sweden, almost 60% of the initial increase in unemployment fell on immigrants. In the United States, unemployment of immigrants was lower than their native-born peers by almost one percentage point before the pandemic, it is now 2 percentage points higher.

Migrants are highly exposed to the health impacts of the pandemic as a result of working on the frontline during the pandemic but also vulnerabilities linked, for example, to housing conditions and poverty. Studies in a number of OECD countries found an infection risk that is at least twice as high as that of the native-born. 

Going forward, getting migration and integration policies right will be essential if we are to achieve a strong and truly inclusive recovery.  

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