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Deloitte Namibia HC Trends 2021

The social enterprise in a world disrupted: Leading the shift from survive to thrive

IN 2020, COVID-19 forced organisations around the world to enact radically new ways of working and operating amid the pandemic’s human, economic and technological impacts.

2021 Namibian Human Capital Trends | Webinar

In a world where long term planning often gets credit for most organisational success stories, the past year forced organisations to respond to a sudden, unforeseen crisis, which no amount of planning or prediction could have foreseen. As we all learned the hard way, in an environment that can shift from moment to moment, the paths and time frames to achieving organisational goals must shift as well.

Planning and brainstorming have been a priority for a lot of organisations when facing an unexpected problem or event, but even though it can be an integral part of working through the issue at hand, it isn’t all organisations need in such an environment. Even more essential is to make a fundamental mindset shift: from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving.

Currently, continuous disruption is inevitable, and the survival mindset will inhibit one’s aspirations towards accepting each new reality and working within it to accomplish what an organisation has always done. In short, the organisation in a survival mindset plans to have “business as usual” once the crisis at hand has been resolved. The thrive mindset, in contrast, embraces each new reality and tries to use it to reimagine norms and assumptions in ways that were not possible before.

The shift from survive to thrive depends on an organisation becoming —and continuing to stay— distinctly human at its core. This is not just a different way of thinking and acting. It’s a different way of being, one that approaches every question, every issue, and every decision from a human angle first.

Deloitte Namibia received 74 responses to the Human Capital Trends survey this year, a 69% increase on last year. These responses will aid us in gaining a deeper understanding of the local social enterprises and how they dealt with complete disruption.

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We started our exploration by asking a paradoxical question: How can organisations position themselves to thrive when they are focused on making the changes necessary to survive?

From this year’s Global Human Capital Trends research, we learned that the organisations that were best prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic were already adopting a “thrive” mindset of using disruption as an opportunity to propel the organisation forward and using technologies to transform work.

The “very prepared” group was also three times as likely to use technology to transform work. And most importantly, those who were “very prepared” were twice as likely to recognise the importance of organising work to facilitate rapid decision-making and nearly four times more ready to leverage worker adaptability and mobility to navigate future disruptions.


What also became clear is that preparedness for the unexpected depends on an organisation’s management of work and the workforce, but we continue to see a disconnect between leaders’ priorities and the reality of how their organisations support workforce development.

The top priority for Namibian organisations in order for them to better navigate future disruptions is identified as the ability to use technology to transform work, yet only 25.7% of respondents’ organisations are “very ready” on this front. The second priority for organisations is the ability of their people to adapt, reskill and assume new roles, yet only 15.6% of respondents’ organisations are “very ready.” This is therefore a call on Namibian leaders to focus on these priorities and the reality of how their organisations support workforce development.

Lastly, we learned that respondents in our survey are prioritising work reimagination. We saw the power of work reimagination during the COVID-19 pandemic when organisations had to rethink fundamental assumptions about what work is and how it could be done. The ability to reimagine work according to a different set of assumptions and put those changes into practice proved essential to organisations’ survival, and it can also enable them to thrive long after the pandemic recedes.

These findings lead us to the conclusion that being distinctly human at the core is the essence of what it means to be a social enterprise. To combine revenue growth and profit-making with respect and support for its environment and stakeholder network, an organisation needs to ground itself in a set of human principles: purpose and meaning, ethics and fairness, growth and passion, collaboration and relationships, and transparency and openness. This what puts the social enterprise in a position to thrive—to continually reinvent itself on the back of perpetual disruption.

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