The social enterprise at work

Paradox as a path forward

Our 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report is anchored in the greatest paradox facing enterprises today: How can organizations remain distinctly human in a technology-driven world?

Over the past 10 years of publishing our annual human capital trends report, we’ve seen organizations, governments, and workers increase their focus on issues ranging from better working conditions to gender inequality. The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward charts this continuing societal shift toward worker empowerment, as well as the growing momentum of social enterprises. Uncertainty has become one of the biggest challenges to people around the world at a time we all crave security, leading to the expectation that organizations and society need to put humans first.

Running in parallel is an imperative for organizations to use technology as a primary driver of value. Organizations are investing record sums in digital transformations to accelerate value creation through innovative technologies. Many see these innovations, like artificial intelligence and robotics, as an imminent threat to human employment.

It’s time to challenge the notion that technology and humanity are competing entities: greater value comes from the fusion of the two. Our report provides a pathway for organizations to move forward and embrace this paradox—remaining distinctly human in a technology-driven world.

2020 Global Human Capital Trends

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Three shifts an organization can make to fuse the human and the technological

  • Fostering belonging amid a desire of individuality.
    Technology creates a world of increasing individualization, but humans desire a sense of belonging. How can organizations optimize their people through a collective purpose at work?
  • Creating security in a world of reinvention.
    Technology is forcing employees to learn new skills and capabilities. How can organizations use reinvention as a way to increase their people’s potential for long-term success at work?
  • Taking bold action in an age of uncertainty.
    Technology creates a sense that anything can change, but humans often thrive through a sense of security. Can organizations reframe their perspective to view uncertainty as offering possibilities rather than threats?

Emerging from these three key shifts are a new set of attributes—purpose, potential, and perspective—that characterize what it means to become a true social enterprise. Executives have tended to view the conflicts within each as trade-offs: belonging or individuality, security or reinvention, boldness or uncertainty. But embracing the fundamental paradox of fusing technology with the human means finding ways to marry these seemingly opposed pairs.

This year's report is the culmination of a decade dedicated to framing the economic, cultural, and technological landscape through the perspective of people. Much like how we started that decade, we appear to be headed into a period of uncertainty. The good news is that we will approach these upcoming challenges with a very different mindset—one guided by social enterprise.

For more information, or if you have questions regarding the outlook, please contact the leaders below.

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