Business was traditionally founded on a number of core pillars. Some of these have been eroded. The challenge is to reset to rebuild.
Companies all across the country are asking themselves a number of key questions in how work patterns will change, how productivity will be impacted and how to re-engage their teams.
Overall, the belief is that the work environment will return to strength over the next 18 months but that it will need to reflect and really reinvest again in the key areas which have been eroded. Often work has been too “alpha “with a focus on results overvalues. The workplace has not been viewed in a positive light with upward opportunity for advancement declining, many millennials questioning business ethics and support services have seen as a cost centre rather than as a service to support culture and productivity.
All can argue as they wish but the hard facts, the research and the science, do evidence that things have been going wrong for a while. It is a time for a reset in order to rebuild. In truth, the research and science have been ignored and discussions more focused on cost. It is no coincidence that today many companies are struggling to re-engage their people, teams and are not trusted.
The evidence shows that:
· Over 60% of employees do not trust in their leadership teams
· Between the years 2005 and 2019, the average age of a CEO increased by 14 years; the same as the gap in years. The natural passing of the baton has not happened which has hindered upward opportunity.
· Business thinking has become dominated by limiting risk and cost. Natural during austerity but does have its consequences.
· The majority of millennials (now the largest percentage in the workforce) do not believe that business is run on ethical lines.
· The majority of millennials want to see greater commitment towards sustainability; not just environmental but social and cultural too.
· It was well evidence that mental health was on the rise with the average number of lost days (sick days & presenteeism) averaging over 34 per employee. 1:4 will suffer mental health issues and 1:10 depression.
If the above is the starting point for business, it is not a strong place and it does need reinventing.
So many of the issues being faced today are natural consequences of the way that business has evolved in the last ten years. People simply became tired with perceived corporate arrogance, the lack of values, the lack of purpose, transactions, poor service, automated service plus long working days with high costs which stressed them. In truth, it is little wonder why people have not wanted to go back to the work environment. There is a need to return to core pillars which founded strong business originally. Relationships were central to this; culture too. Two key skills which have undermined and eroded. Companies need their people to feel energised by the work environment and workplace. It should be seen as a negative place to come. Social interaction is important and research shows that the decline in productivity is almost exactly in line with the decline in time teams have together.
Work lost its magic. It became a strain and pressure rather than an experience. It needs to reinvent itself and play a positive role. This is the opportunity and the challenge.
Maybe the old simple rationale behind the 9 to 5 job with the one-hour lunch break had a sounder logic behind it than many gave to it? There are more and more evidence and science emerging that shows that:
· The decline in trust has a direct link with the decrease in visible communication by leaders and the lack of team teams have together informally.
· There is evidence that fall in trust also has a direct link with the decline in human interaction and having relationships with customers.
· The working days has increased by 3 hours over the last twenty years. It is natural that people are more tired.
· The old traditional lunch break and time with colleagues played a genuinely important role in business; it encouraged informal discussions and relationship building. On the same level, foodservice has an important role to play to re-engaging teams and in improving productivity. There is clear evidence that the decline in face to face interactions is almost directly in line with the fall in productivity. One may dismiss the old lunch breaks with clients and colleagues but was productivity higher as a result?
· There is evidence that more and more leaders do not possess the mental aptitude for leadership. There is even research showing that over 12% of leaders suffer from psychopathic tendencies. Whether this is true or not, it makes a point; there is a view that business became increasingly alpha as the years have passed. The challenge being presented is that business needs to think bigger and better; to be more inclusive, be more compassionate, and have stronger values. This includes investing back in people and services that support their productivity
· There is a lot of evidence to show that average loyalty and productivity was higher after the Second World War as many employees believed that their companies wanted to play a positive role in the community.
It just may be that the core problems that are arguably stifling business today can be begun to be sorted with a return to what worked in the past:
· Working days do need to better balanced.
· People do want to see companies live with greater purpose and greater social awareness.
· Relationships and trust are once again core
· Time together as people and teams are key.
· Food does play a central role in daily life to a level not seen before in the UK and plays an important role within companies to support problem-solving, comms and productivity. It is not a hard argument to say that food plays a key role in daily life, one which daily life better and stronger and is worth investing in. In fact, the old argument that food service is about cost is surely proven to be a falsehood as the loss in productivity has cost far more money than the cost of providing a good service.
· Service has a major role to play. It creates experiences that people want to engage in.
· Can space be reimagined and redesigned to be more engaging?
The problems can be solved but it needs to require maybe a reset from problems that were clearly evident leading up to the pandemic.
Our belief is that there is a gap at board level where the focus is on improving productivity through culture and services to their teams. The opportunity is to have the expertise that really can bring in a new focus on the work/employee experience, to build a strong social culture, to build trust and on how to use foodservice and effectively to support productivity and how to once again place value add culture at the heart of the business. In all fairness, this needs better and thinking than has been evident in recent years.