How businesses could emerge better after COVID-19, according to B Lab

By Adele Peters

As the coronavirus crisis and the ensuing economic fallout grows, many companies shifted their policies—in some cases, giving low-wage hourly and gig workers temporary access to paid sick leave for the first time. But when the crisis is over, will the companies that survive make more lasting changes?

Andrew Kassoy, cofounder of B Lab, an organization that certifies companies that focus on social good as B Corporations (B Corps for short), argues that the pandemic might accelerate shifts that were already underway. “I think there is already a new consensus that has formed over the last couple of years that we were moving from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism,” he says, pointing to examples such as a 2019 letter signed by CEOs in the Business Roundtable that signaled a new commitment, at least in words, to more social responsibility.

“I think that message has already been heard loud and clear in the culture,” he says. “And I think this crisis creates an opportunity because it makes it clear that we haven’t built a resilient economic system. This is an opportunity for us to focus on both how business and government play a role in building a more resilient economic system for the next crisis, and there’ll be more of these.”

The current crisis makes it obvious, if it wasn’t already, how many people have been living financially fragile lives. “There’s this oft-quoted statistic that 40% of Americans aren’t prepared for a $500 emergency, and now, we’re all having that emergency together,” Kassoy says. “While shareholder primacy didn’t cause the COVID-19 crisis, it certainly laid bare the fact that we have a system where workers and communities aren’t prepared for a downturn like this. You can see it in how fast the unemployment numbers went up. You can see the desperation of lots of workers to find alternative sources of income and the need for a massive bailout. And so in a different system, where companies were actually paying our workers well enough that people had reserves, we might be in a different situation than we are today and needing a multi-trillion-dollar bailout. And this will only be the first of several, I’m sure.”

Kassoy argues that B Corps, which have to meet strict standards for social and environmental performance, are actually better prepared to weather crises; during the last financial crisis, B Corps were 63% more likely than other businesses of a similar size to make it through the downturn. “We think that’s because those companies were more resilient,” he says. “They had stronger relationships with their workers, or their customers, or through their supply chains, that allowed them to make it through. I hope that we’ll see something similar this time around.”

It’s possible that more companies will choose to make changes to benefit workers. While many businesses are obviously struggling now, when the economy improves, some may decide to pay living wages and offer better benefits rather than adding to oversized CEO pay or making other investments.

Investors should also push for broader improvements, Kassoy says. “It’s pretty tough to expect individual heroic CEOs to change the whole business system. So we need the investment community to play a role as well. They, more than individual companies, have an interest in the stability of the whole system.” Government also has an obvious role—both in terms of setting conditions on companies if they’re given bailouts during the crisis, and by passing laws to permanently improve policies such as sick leave and access to healthcare. “It’s really about changing the rules of the game so that all companies have to be like B Corps.”

“If we get to the other side of this and we end up with the same system that we started with,” Kassoy says, “then we won’t have learned much.”

 

Source: Fast Company

How Dual-Career Couples Can Work Through the Coronavirus Crisis

by Jennifer Petriglieri

A little more than two months after the start of China’s coronavirus lockdown, just as restrictions are easing, a startling new figure has emerged: The divorce rate in the city of Xi’an, the heart of the Shaanxi Province, has spiked. The numbers from Italy are not yet available, but the jokes abound. “You’ll either come out of this with a third child, or with a divorce,” quipped one of my Italian relatives as France, where my husband and I live, followed Italy into an open-ended lockdown. Four days into it, I can see why.

In my work researching dual-career couples I’ve seen how even with a lot on their plates, couples can thrive in both their careers and their relationships. But now millions of dual-career couples across the world are, like us, finding themselves in a situation that a month ago seemed inconceivable and are navigating it without a road map: both partners forced into working full time from home. Many of these couples also have to care for children full time with little or no support because of strict social-distance guidelines.

Work itself is much more stressful than usual — as our face-to-face work moves online, our organizations struggle to serve customers, and our job security itself becomes uncertain — and so there is plenty of frustration and anxiety to take home. And now it is home: Our homes have become the spaces where we deal with these challenges. With no clear division of labor between paid work and housework, dual-career couples are facing a host of new and unfamiliar challenges. How can both partners work productively under the same roof? Who gets to use the home office, and when? How can we avoid falling into the trap of overwork and burnout that is prevalent among home workers? How can we deal with each other’s mildly annoying habits that when lived with 24/7 suddenly become bones of contention? And, for those who are also working parents, how do we keep the kids occupied and home schooled, with no friends, grandparents or paid childcare givers to help?

Most of the advice I’m seeing in response to these questions suggests that couples need to focus on the practicalities: Schedule your days. Never work at the kitchen table. Close the door to your home office. Divide the chores. Talk to your boss. Alternate shifts between childcare and work. Take regular breaks. Don’t lose sleep. Leverage technology.

These practicalities are clearly important and all couples, indeed all workers, will need to make serious adjustments. But my six years of research has taught me that what determines which couples will go their separate ways when the crisis ends and which will have a second honeymoon period (and perhaps a third child to boot!) will not be how they deal with the practicalities. It’s not about who will brave the pandemic to go out and buy milk.

Instead, my research — for which I’ve interviewed more than 100 couples — shows that the couples who survive crises with their relationship and careers intact are those who discuss and agree on certain principles as the crisis begins. These should capture what matters most to them, what they need and want to achieve, what they need from each other, and what they must give in return. It’s these principles that, once set in an agreement, drive the practical solutions they adopt as the crisis unfolds. This “crisis deal” is based on the couples contract that I describe in my book Couples That Work as vital for all dual-career couples to thrive. But couples can’t just set a contract once and be done: they must adjust the deal when major changes arrive — especially when a crisis hits.

It doesn’t take long to figure out a crisis deal. You can do it tonight with your partner. First, take a few minutes individually to jot down your thoughts on each of the questions set out below. Consider a time horizon of three months (at this point we don’t know how long the situation will last, but this is my educated guess based on China’s experience). Once you’ve gathered and written down your own thoughts, share them with your partner point by point and work together to find common ground. Write down what you agree on. This will make your crisis deal a living deal that you can revisit every week to make sure you are on track. You can also look to the agreement as the basis for the practical problems that you will need to tackle next.

What matters most to you in this period? The easy answer for all of us is the health and safety of our loved ones. But beyond this, what are your top three goals for this time? Is there a particular work project you want to see through to completion? A relationship you want to foster? Do you want to use the time at home to map out your next career transition? Is the your kids’ education top of mind?

Understanding and sharing these goals is important because it is the best guide to how to divide up your time. It’s likely that most of us will be less productive on any given front during this period. But imagine yourself looking back three months from now: What are the yard sticks you will use to measure whether you spent your time wisely?

What is the relative priority of your careers over the coming months? If you’re both working from home and simultaneously managing other commitments like child and elder care, you will need to figure out whose work gets priority when. Do you have a stable deal in which one of your careers consistently takes priority over the other? Do you try to maintain a 50/50 split? Or are there certain weeks when one of you will need to have priority over working time?

My research has shown that any one of these arrangements can work — but it works best if you decide in advance which one you’re following. This can give you some logic to use as you split up each day’s working hours between you. If you understand why each other’s work needs to take priority at certain moments, it’s easier to accept the sacrifices you’ll both have to make in this period without building up resentments.

What are your parenting principles during this period? These are extraordinary times for working parents, and the principles we usually stick to will need to adapt. Do you need to loosen screen-time agreements? How involved in homeschooling do you want and need to be? What are the aspects of your children’s lives that are most important to you? Outdoor time, reading time, sports, study? How will you talk about the crisis and contain your children’s anxieties? If you and your partner are on the same page and can communicate these adjusted principles clearly to your children, it will make keeping the boundaries (and peace) at home that bit easier.

What do you need from each other to make this all work? We are all craving support, but what does that look like for you? Emotional or practical? Do you need to know that you’ll have 15 minutes of undivided attention every evening to check in and debrief the day? Do you need your partner to share some of the tasks that you usually take full responsibility for? What do you need from your partner to help you stick to your crisis deal? It’s likely that you and your partner will need different things from each other. Adapting to your partner’s needs demonstrate the goodwill and love we’ll all need to make it through these times.

What are the things concern you most? The crisis and the reality of working from home for an extended period provoke anxiety in most of us. Do you worry about your job security? Managing the boundaries between work and kids? Getting quality couple time? Cabin fever setting in? What will you do if one or both of you become seriously ill? In times of crisis many of us adopt a stiff-upper-lip stance and bottle up our concerns. This is not helpful within a couple. Understanding each other’s key concerns is critical, because it makes us more attentive and sensitive. And when we understand our partner’s concerns, we can take practical steps to soothe or mitigate them.

Faced with a crisis, our focus often narrows to the immediate tasks at hand. As one woman I spoke to remarked: “It’s easy for this situation to put you in task mode. I’m realizing, though, that we need to figure out a new deal to get through it.” My research concurs: Couples that work are those who put their deal first. Only then do they move onto the practicalities.

As long as the principles you agreed to in your deal serve as the logic for your practicalities, and as long as you keep that conversation alive, you’ll get through this period — and perhaps your relationship will be even stronger. Wedding bells may sound, a second honeymoon might get booked, or tiny clothes may get knitted — at which point you’ll need to negotiate another deal!

Source: HBR

Stay Positive

It is certainly a difficult and challenging time for all of us and we deal with the health and economic issues that are going on around us. I just read this article written by Tony Robinson  that I thought I would share with you.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope is what makes the difference.” – Virginia Satir

Now I know this may sound cliche, but the thing about cliches is that they’re typically true. Staying positive is only a small part in getting through the difficult times, but it’s an important part.

When you stay positive, you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to not only make it through those bad times, but become a better person in the process.

You can do one of two things when life takes a turn for the worst. You can remain positive and remind yourself that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you’ll make it through, or you can curl up in the fetal position and relegate yourself to being nothing more than a victim of circumstance.

I’m not saying that you can never have a bad day, or get a little discouraged, or shed a tear. But I am saying you have to eventually pick up the pieces and start moving forward.

 

How to reinvent HR for a changing world

By: Jen Colletta

Josh Bersin shared his insights on management shifts, career development and employee experience.

To keep up with automation, many organizations are striving to arm their workforce with digital skills. Not so fast, says HR industry analyst Josh Bersin—to truly becoming digital entities, organizations need to work toward becoming service companies.

That’s the message Bersin shared this week at IAMPHENOM, the annual conference of Phenom, which provides platforms to manage the talent experience. About 1,000 HR practitioners and leaders gathered for the event in Philadelphia, which was themed around the four audiences Phenom’s experience products are tailored to: candidates, recruiters, employees and managers.

All four segments are affected by automation, Bersin noted.

“We used to think about that in terms of employees needing digital skills; but becoming a digital company means means actually acting in a digital way, and that means becoming a service organization,” he said. “We’ve all become service workers—we’re all in the people business because, if everybody in the company doesn’t feel engaged, trained and aligned today, the company isn’t going to operate the way it used to.”

The Role of Managers

Ensuring employees are up to that challenge requires competent managers—but the role managers play is also transforming, Bersin said.

“We don’t work in hierarchical companies anymore,” he said, noting that his recent research found that 35% of companies said their workers operate in a network—up from 6% just five years ago. “You can call it agile, you can call it a network, you can call it teams—but we have to come to grips with it.”

Organizations are moving away from the concept of managers providing direct oversight over employees; modern “service companies” instead operate with the expectation that managers manage projects—and people manage themselves. Workers know their responsibilities, are eager to learn and innovate, and look to their managers for help and clarity—but not permission to make decisions, Bersin said.

That’s been an ongoing evolution in the last several decades, as leadership models moved from industrial to hierarchical to collaborative to teams and, now, to the trusted enterprise—rife with teamwork, data, high productivity and in-the-flow work.

Driving Development, Experience

The shifting role of managers goes hand in hand with evolving employee expectations, including around career development.

Jobs are changing, roles are changing and the concept of “climbing the corporate ladder” is becoming extinct—as employees aim to move around, rather than straight upward, which employers can take advantage of, Bersin said.

“Careers are now about finding people important development opportunities in the context of what the company wants to do,” he said.

A prime example is IBM, Bersin said, which recently conducted a companywide skills analysis and found 10,000 people who had the skills needed for positions it was looking to fill; similarly, a large bank that was struggling to hire AI engineers ultimately looked internally at employees with math degrees—including those working in marketing—who were offered reskilling opportunities to move into the new roles.

Leaders must also be cognizant of changing expectations for employee experience.

Many organizations are ramping up benefits in an effort to draw in and keep top talent; Dropbox, for instance, Bersin said, built a reputation for its innovative perks, including free breakfast, lunch and dinner by one of San Francisco’s most renowned chefs. But, after conducting focus groups with employees—and explaining that the company was spending 30% of wages on benefits—leaders found the benefits may not have been as impactful as they thought, he said. Workers were most eager for bonuses, more highly trained managers and better tools to make the work experience more productive.

“[Innovative benefits] are good tools to attract people, and they’re not bad things to have, but the real expectation is about the human experience at work,” Bersin said.

See also: Kindness: The missing ingredient in a great employee experience

He encouraged HR leaders to keep in mind Maslow’s hierarchy: At the base level, meet employees’ physical and safety needs, but strive to meet the highest expectation: self-actualization—focused on personal growth, fueled by an alignment with the company’s mission and purpose.

In a recent study Bersin conducted with LinkedIn, employees were asked what most inspired them about their job—the highest percentage (26%) focused on the nature of the work itself.

“The right job,” Bersin said, “is twice as important as culture—and more than four times more important than money.”

Source: HR Executive

 

Why you should stop seeing your goal as a destination

We’re well into a new year and a new decade, and many (if not most) of us have probably set ourselves lofty new goals. Setting and achieving personal and professional goals can be rewarding, but it can also feel confusing and frustrating.

You see, many of us set a goal without a clear idea of what we need to do to reach it. We might even have some steps in mind, but we don’t know which ones will get us to where we want to be. Even for those of us who do succeed in reaching our goals, we typically find it difficult to pinpoint the actions that got us there. This lack of clarity means that people don’t always continue the behaviors that contributed to their success. 

Two behavioral scientists at the Stanford Graduate School of Business recently conducted studies of over 1,600 people who set various types of goals to determine why some people not only achieve their goals but can also successfully sustain their learned behaviors, while others stop their efforts and regress. Regardless of the activities involved—from dieting to exercising to attending online courses—we found that those who viewed reaching their goal as a journey, rather than a destination, continued the “good” behaviors that aided their success after reaching their goal.

Knowing that the “destination” metaphor we so often use for goal setting is one of the things that hold us back, how can looking at goals as a continuing journey help us better achieve success and maintain it over time?

Reflect before you launch forward

When we set a goal, we often focus so much on the “new” that we forget to draw on the power of past successes. That’s why it’s crucial to reflect on what you achieved last year before you embark on your new year’s goal. That goes for success in all aspects of your life—whether that’s your career, family life, personal growth, or health.

As you reflect on your past goals and successes, avoid viewing them as destinations. Instead, see them as a journey of many steps. Seeing success as complete or finite can often lead to its benefits to slip faster than they came. That’s why it’s so easy to put on those 20 pounds again or lower your output at the office after your boss awards you a raise.

On the other hand, our research showed that if you review your completed goals through the lens of a journey rather than a destination, you’re more likely to continue those behaviors that helped you achieve these goals. Ask yourself: Which actions had a positive impact on my success over the past year—and what did I learn from them? How to make skills that lead to the little victory more routinized? How about those little challenges I overcame along the way—why did they happen, what did I learn from them, and how to drill out those out moving forward? Identifying those actions that lead to the wins and losses, positive steps in a continuous journey makes it easier to follow through, sustain the positive behaviors and continue improving.

Record your progress along the way

Periodic reflection on your past success only encourages you to maintain that motivation going forward. It also forces you to be mindful of the journey you’ve been on, which equips you to tackle new challenges. Of course, you can apply what you’ve learned from achieving one goal to the next, but your new goals may be very different. Whatever your new goals are, you need to view the new challenge as a journey (rather than a destination) right from the start.

One way to do this is to keep a diary or log. Take notes daily or weekly to track your progress as you go along, but don’t limit yourself to the empirical data. If your goal is to lose weight, recording that you lost 1.5 pounds last week is important, but you also want to note what you did differently, what you learned, and how you felt. Remember, advancing toward a goal requires consistency, not taking one giant leap. Don’t forget to take note of anything that pushes you forward in a positive direction, no matter how small it seems.

Keeping a journal of everything that contributes to your current progress helps you see that progress is a continuous journey, not a single destination. But it also helps when it’s time to reflect on your accomplishment. When you have a track record of your progress, you can recall all the smaller achievements and challenges that went into achieving the larger goal. This encourages you to continue that journey toward even greater and longer-term success.

Why the journey is a better metaphor for success

We hear and read a lot about the importance of “the journey” these days, yet we don’t really live that philosophy. Our research shows that seeing goals as a journey rather than a destination increases our chances for initial and continued success, but shifting that metaphor isn’t something that comes naturally.

After all, we’re a destination-focused society. We see countless images of the ideal body type, the perfect “look,” and the possessions that achieving a successful career can bring. We’re taught to have a laser-like focus on the end result and the destination. In the end, this is why so many people fail to continue the goal-aligned behaviors they learned along the way, even if they managed to reach the goal.

But what you learn along the way to success is more important than the achievement itself. The real key to sustaining success is acknowledging and embracing those smaller steps, milestones, victories, and habits we develop on the journey. After all, a destination is just one step in a journey that never ends, and who wants to stop there?

Source: FastCompany