The beginning of the pandemic unleashed the start of a new world of work: many workers adjusted to a new normal of increased flexibility, and organizations rapidly developed new policies to both support workers and architect a path to growth.
After the past two years, it might feel difficult or even foolhardy to try and predict what comes next – however, as we anticipate that 2022 will set the stage for a new era of business, there are certain factors that can be critical for business growth in the next year and beyond.
Transforming the C-suite
One of the most marked changes is the emergence of newer and expanded roles in the C-suite. A recent LinkedIn survey showed how rapidly newer C-suite roles have grown over the last year, and how the highest level of leadership has now expanded to encompass more than 50 titles. While some of these roles, such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) existed prior to the pandemic, they are now viewed as integral to the agility and profitability of many organizations, and intertwined in ways never seen before as hybrid work models are now top of mind.
The “new” C-suite includes roles like Chief Purpose Officer, Chief Diversity Officer, and yes, even my own role, Chief Growth Officer, which emphasizes the need to take a more holistic look at business and how it exists within a societal context. While many of the most senior leadership roles have traditionally been siloed and hyper-focused on their one piece of the business, these new roles are often more focused on integrating ideas across the entire enterprise.
By acting as liaisons across multiple functions of an organization, these new leadership roles have their pulse on more of the goings-on within a business than ever before. In 2022, it will likely be critical to use the collective power and expertise of the expanded C-suite to maximize business growth as part of one unified business strategy.
Aligning Purpose with Growth
When it comes to corporate purpose, both internal and external stakeholders have higher expectations than ever before. Still, there’s some misconception among business leaders that prioritizing purpose initiatives requires an inherent trade-off that sacrifices profit and growth.
In fact, that’s not true. Deloitte’s research shows that having a purpose-driven strategy creates long-term value and competitive advantage, and that high-purpose brands can double market value four times more quickly, with companies that meet shareholder expectations achieving 6.4% higher returns on equity.
Businesses can see the most success and growth when they merge strategies that align both purpose and profit. Keeping purpose initiatives – like ESG and DEI – at the heart of a business is a non-negotiable for any modern growth strategy. This approach can allow businesses to go beyond short-term commitments and instead reflect a sustainable, long-term understanding of the differentiated role their company serves in society.
In 2022, expect to see more organizations make strategic investments in the things that allow them to deliver on purpose commitments – and, consequently, build trust with stakeholders and expand competitive advantage.
Emphasizing Well-being and Transparency
According to the latest Fortune and Deloitte CEO Survey, talent issues remain a top executive priority, and emphasizing a human-centered approach to well-being and transparent leadership is a key competitive strategy for talent retention and attraction. The majority of CEOs (80%) have increased flexibility around work within their organizations, and 65% say they have also increased emphasis on well-being and mental health. Exactly half have prioritized ESG, half have increased pay, and just more than a quarter have distributed one-time retention bonuses.
As job seekers prioritize organizations that “walk the walk” on peak pandemic-era promises, such as well-being benefits that support mental health and ongoing transparency on progress around social justice efforts, these executive actions serve as an important reminder of keeping the humanity in work.
For organizations seeking growth in workforce retention in 2022, prioritizing flexibility and unique well-being offerings should be a non-negotiable in achieving a happier, more engaged workforce. At Deloitte, we recently announced a bold new effort to invest in our workers in the US with an additional $1 billion in compensation and benefits. This includes updates to compensation and paid time off (PTO), well-being and hybrid work subsidies, mental health services not only for workers but for their dependents, and more. Efforts like this can help deliver talent experiences that foster organizational engagement.
Prioritizing Digital Transformation Investments
Investments in technology, including HR tools and improved cybersecurity measures, can make businesses more efficient, secure, and productive. This will likely be even more critical as organizations largely remain hybrid into 2022.
Leaders should also understand and advocate for HR tools that will help synchronize systems and optimize hybrid work. According to The Digital Workplace Reimagined, published by Deloitte with research conducted by Gartner, researchers predicted that 70% of digital workplace service transactions will be automated by 2025, up from 30% today. And, they wrote, one-quarter of business meetings will involve virtual assistants by 2024, up from just 5% now.
With a more distributed workforce, there is also a growing and very real cause for alarm about cybersecurity. As our technology options become more sophisticated, so do hackers, who are already trying to use remote technologies to find new ways into organizational data systems. Growth-focused organizations should invest in strong cybersecurity measures pre-emptively to prevent catastrophic risks and potential profit and data loss.
The question of what is next for the business world is one we have all been asking for the past 18 months. Looking ahead, 2022 offers an opportunity for organizations to return to tactics that promote growth. Both stakeholders and employees will play a big role in these decisions – but ultimately, it’s up to business leaders to ensure they can deliver on promises and maintain the level of cohesivity across all functions of the enterprise needed to continue on a path of growth.