2020 Namibian Human Capital Trends

The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward

The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward How can organizations remain distinctly human in a technology-driven world? This year’s Human Capital Trends report calls upon organizations to embrace three attributes—purpose, potential, and perspective—that characterize what it means to fuse people and technology to perform as a social enterprise at work.

In just a few short years, the concept of the social enterprise — an organisation whose mission combines revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network — has grown from a fascinating new idea into a concrete business reality. The 40 Namibian responses to the Human Capital Trends survey this year aid us in gaining a deeper understanding of the local social enterprise, with respondents from financial services (50%), professional services (10%), Human Resources (40%) and “other” (8%) sectors.

Concerns about access to employment, wage inequality, and organisations’ impact on communities continue to make headlines, especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic we are currently facing. These mounting societal expectations have put human concerns front and centre for organisations and society. While these human concerns have been playing out, another equally powerful phenomenon is underway: an intense focus on technology as a primary driver, if not the primary driver, of enterprise value.i Most organisations, however, have viewed their efforts to address the human and social concerns as wholly separate from their efforts around technology— with the two conversations running on separate tracks.

In order to move forward as a social enterprise, it’s time to challenge the dogma that technology and humanity are distinct domains, or even fundamentally at odds. At Deloitte, we believe that greater value will come from a fusion of the two.

If the fusion of humanity and technology was not intricate enough, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that an estimated 2.7 billion people, or more than four out of five workers in the global workforce, have been affected by lockdowns and stay-at-home measures. In an effort to help understand the impact of the pandemic in Namibia, Deloitte conducted two flash surveys. Results show that ninety percent of Namibians believe that actively implementing the Future of

Work mindset is important, even though only thirty-three percent of organisations seem ready for the change.iii Given the importance of people to every organization, companies need to plan to respond to employee needs during the unfolding challenge of COVID-19. It’s helpful to think about this as three deeply connected dimensions of an organization: work (the what), workforce (the who), and workplace (the where).

A view that fuses the human and the technological—one that calls us to work with a world shaped by technology—can enable people and organisations to transcend the most challenging conflicts that exist in organisations today by making three bold shifts:

Fostering belonging amid a desire for individuality. Technology creates a world where anything and everything can be individualized; yet humans desire a sense of belonging to a larger whole. The Namibian results indicate that belonging is a concern: eighty-seven percent of respondents said that “fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce” was important, however, only thirty-seven percent of organisations are ready to implement this focus. This statistic poses the question; what would happen if instead of creating divisions, individuality could become a source of strength found by bringing together unique, complementary abilities in the pursuit of shared goals? In order to create this harmony, organisations need to optimize the power of individuals by connecting them with each other through their purpose at work. 

Establishing security in a world of reinvention. Modern technology promotes the need for people to constantly reinvent themselves; yet humans still desire a sense of security. In Namibia, there is an even higher need for reinvention than has been shown in the global responses – sixty-six percent of Namibian respondents said that between half and/or all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities within the next three years. This poses the question; what would happen if, instead of being perceived as a threat, reinvention could become the means for finding security amid ongoing change? In order to create a sense of security, organisations need to leverage reinvention to increase their people’s potential for long-term success in their career.i

Taking bold action in an age of uncertainty. Technology creates a sense that anything that can change, will; yet humans desire a sense of certainty to support taking courageous steps forward. Here, our survey illustrates the uncertainty many organisations experience about their ability to navigate rapid change. Thirty-three percent of Namibian respondents said technology has been the biggest factor driving change over the past ten years. Furthermore, ninety percent of global respondents said that the accelerating need for organisations to change at scale and speed was important to their success over the next ten years, however only fifty-five percent felt that their organisations were ready to change at the scale and speed required. This is true to the local Namibian market too, as the results from the Namibian COVID-19 flash surveys indicate that sixty-seven percent of organisations were not ready to deal with a pandemic such as COVID-19.

What if, instead of prompting doubt, uncertainty could give rise to new possibilities: the opportunity to shape the future through decisive action? To be able to do this, organisations need to transform uncertainty into an informed perspective that helps them confidently navigate the future of work.

The three shifts described above represent a new set of attributes that characterise what it means to truly become a social enterprise at work (figure 3). Embodying these attributes takes a high degree of change — one that extends beyond broad cultural descriptions and lofty purpose and mission statements to the tactical processes, programs, and structures that bring an organisation’s culture, purpose, and mission to life. Amid this pandemic, now more than ever, enterprises must quickly anticipate, adapt, manoeuvre, make decisions, and shift course in agile ways to brave the never-ending disruption.

To assist you to think through these changes, we have used the framework of purpose, potential, and perspective to organize our discussion of this year’s Namibian human capital trends. These trends look across several components of an organisation — from the systems that guide process execution to the metrics that track and measure strategic progress — and offer suggestions on ways to embed purpose, potential, and perspective into the very core of how they are designed and executed.

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Namibia Infographic Human Capital Trends 2020

The world has changed overnight. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has had far reaching implications to organisations across the globe.

During the past few months, most organisations’ first priority has been crisis response and focussing on health, safety, essential services, and the virtualization of work and education. Now, as organisations begin to emerge from this response phase, leaders are focusing on the next set of workforce challenges as they plan for the recovery.

The attributes of purpose, potential, and perspective are admittedly complex.

Organisations have tended to view the conflicts within each as trade-offs: belonging or individuality, security or reinvention, boldness or uncertainty. Part of embracing the seeming paradox of combining the technological with the human is to look beyond trade-offs to find ways to integrate these seemingly opposed pairs.

For the power of the social enterprise lies in its capability to bring a human focus to everything it touches, empowering people to work productively with technology to create lasting value for themselves, their organisations, and society at large.

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