How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

While making digital the main channel of customer engagement, banks are also looking to move beyond business as usual, says Amit Anand, a Vice President in Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services.

COVID-19 made online channels indispensable for bank customers, including those who preferred in-person banking. This accelerated their digital strategies and created an opportunity to go beyond the basics and become partners in their customers’ pursuit of financial wellness.

As banks bet big on digital, they are looking at technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, and automation to provide personalization, prediction and speed in creating powerful customer experiences. Banks are also increasingly relying on machines to automate repetitive tasks and make complex decisions, creating demand for human skillsets that complement intelligent machines.

Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), working with Oxford Economics, recently surveyed 4,000 C-level executives globally, including 287 senior banking and financial services executives to understand how banks are adapting to fast and dramatic changes.

The earliest forms of digital banking trace back to the advent of ATMs and cards launched in the 1960s. As the internet emerged in the 1980s with early broadband, digital networks began to connect retailers with suppliers and consumers to develop needs for early online catalogues and inventory software systems.

By the 1990s the Internet became widely available and online banking started becoming the norm. The improvement of broadband and ecommerce systems in the early 2000s led to what resembled the modern digital banking world today. The proliferation of smartphones through the next decade opened the door for transactions on the go beyond ATM machines. Over 60% of consumers now use their smartphones as the preferred method for digital banking.

The challenge for banks is now to facilitate demands that connect vendors with money through channels determined by the consumer. This dynamic shapes the basis of customer satisfaction, which can be nurtured with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Therefore, CRM must be integrated into a digital banking system, since it provides means for banks to directly communicate with their customers.

There is a demand for end-to-end consistency and for services, optimized on convenience and user experience. The market provides cross platform front ends, enabling purchase decisions based on available technology such as mobile devices, with a desktop or Smart TV at home. In order for banks to meet consumer demands, they need to keep focusing on improving digital technology that provides agility, scalability and efficiency.

Seven Ways to Capitalize on Digital

  1. Institute front-to-back digitization. Banks can effectively compete with fintech competitors by becoming digital institutions.
  2. Explore new customer segments and business paradigms. Digital makes it easier than ever for banks to explore small business segments, even as they pursue existing markets.
  3. Emphasize platform centricity and smart aggregation. Open banking standards can help banks to provide personalized products to customers in collaboration with third-party providers and fintechs.
  4. Invest in personalizing the customer relationship. Banks should use personalized experiences to make customers’ lives as frictionless as possible.
  5. Focus on re-building trust and resiliency. Banks need to eliminate any biases in decisions made by machines.
  6. Enshrine inclusivity into your digital strategy. Banks should use digital to reach customers who are left out by being physically and cognitively challenged.
  7. Balance machine-driven and human-centric work. Create sturdy human-machine collaboration by reevaluating jobs for a shared environment.

For more, read our paper “The Work Ahead in Banking: The Digital Road to Financial Wellness”.

Amit Anand is Vice President and North American Practice Leader for Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services. Amit has 20 years of experience with firms such as Accenture, Infosys and Cognizant. He has successfully led and managed large business transformation, digital and IT transformation, and associated organizational change management for several financial services clients. Amit is a recognized thought leader with more than 15 publications on topics such as Open Banking, Digital 2.0 and new-age operating models. He can be reached at Amit.Anand@cognizant.com

Manish Bahl leads the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. A respected speaker and thinker, Manish has guided many Fortune 500 companies into the future of their business with his thought-provoking research and advisory skills. Within Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, he helps ensure that the unit’s original research and analysis jibes with emerging business-technology trends and dynamics in APAC, and collaborates with a wide range of leading thinkers to understand and predict how the future of work will take shape. He most recently served as Vice President, Country Manager with Forrester Research in India. He can be reached at Manish.Bahl@cognizant.com

Source: How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

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Forget Finance. Supply-Chain Management Is the Pandemic Era’s Must-Have MBA Degree

The just-in-time inventory systems embraced by many businesses led to empty shelves and costly bottlenecks. That’s put a rare spotlight on supply-chain programs, which are attracting more students.

Stores with no toilet paper. Colossal cargo ships run aground in the Suez Canal. Factory shutdowns in Vietnam. Ports closed in China. It almost seems that not a day goes by without reports of another supply-chain snafu wrought by the pandemic, which dismantled just-in-time inventory systems that couldn’t cope with massive, simultaneous disruptions of supply and demand.

Companies have struggled to adapt, with some taking unusual steps. Walmart Inc. and Home Depot Inc. are chartering their own private cargo vessels so they don’t get caught short as the holiday season approaches, and logistics experts say disruptions from congested ports won’t end anytime soon. The tumult has forced companies to lavish more attention on their supply-chain professionals, who typically toil in obscurity until disaster strikes.

It’s also prompted business schools to refresh their supply-chain curricula to make sure the next generation of logistics managers are prepared for future crises. “For years, we had sort of taken logistics for granted,” says Skrikant Datar, the dean of Harvard Business School. “The pandemic caused us to rethink it.”

The problem, says Hitendra Chaturvedi, a supply-chain management professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, was that supply-chain education and theories had grown as rigid as some of the practices out in the real world. “After years of teaching without any tremors,” he says, “our courses had become less flexible.”

In response to those tremors, business schools are now emphasizing things such as risk mitigation, data analytics, and production reshoring—while also carving out room to explore more intangible topics like ethics, communication, and sustainability.

Penn State’s Smeal College of Business is adding a master’s course in supply-chain risk management next year, with lessons taken straight from the pandemic experiences of corporate partners including Hershey Co. and Dell Technologies Inc. The course will count toward a new certificate program in risk management that’s also in the works.

The W.P. Carey School of Business also plans to offer a certificate in supply-chain resilience. “It’s not like we don’t cover risk already, but this would give them a deeper dive,” says Kevin Linderman, chair of Smeal’s Department of Supply Chain and Information Systems, which has grown more popular with students thanks to high-profile incidents such as the grounding of the Ever Given cargo ship in the Suez Canal in March, which snarled global commerce for nearly a week.

This academic year more than 400 juniors in Smeal’s undergrad program have declared their intent to major in supply-chain management, up from about 270 the previous year. Incoming business students who once defaulted to finance or marketing now want to explore supply-chain management, says Alok Baveja, a professor at Rutgers Business School, whose faculty includes former executives of nearby pharmaceutical giants such as Johnson & Johnson.

When they graduate, they’ll have plenty of options: A record 50 companies plan to attend a supply-chain career fair at Georgia Tech in September—about double the number that typically come to recruit students of the program—including newcomers Honda, Honeywell, and Procter & Gamble.

Students who pursue supply-chain degrees this fall are certain to get an earful about the limitations of just-in-time inventory systems, which grew in popularity during the 1990s as companies aimed to mimic the success of auto makers like Toyota Motor Corp., the gold standard of lean manufacturing. For some companies, though, getting lean “became a religion,” says Penn State’s Linderman, and their orthodoxy became their undoing when the pandemic hit and there was no surplus stock to be found.

Covid-19 exposed the weaknesses of legacy inventory systems, which typically emphasize cost reduction above all else, says Hyun-Soo Ahn, a professor at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The pendulum is now shifting the other way: At Walmart, whose bottom-line focus is legendary, U.S. inventory rose 20% last quarter as it doesn’t want product shortages come Christmastime. Still, shuttered factories, port congestion, and trucker shortages have brought more chaos to already overtaxed supply chains, raising prices on groceries and jeopardizing the delivery of millions of presents for the holidays.

Classroom discussions at Penn State and other supply-chain specialists will now delve into the downsides of sourcing too much from China or any single country, while they also explore the role that new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence can play in manufacturing and inventory decisions. Old research, meanwhile, is getting reinterpreted through the pandemic’s lens, says Gopalakrishnan Mohan, chair of ASU’s supply-chain department.

What’s also needed, though, is a realization in corporate C-suites that logistics isn’t just an expense—it can actually create value when done well, according to MIT’s Jarrod Goentzel. He’s the principal research scientist at the school’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, which works with corporations such as Amazon.com Inc. and Intel Corp. and also a lecturer in the center’s one-year master’s program in supply-chain management.

It helps that high-profile chief executive officers like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Mary Barra of General Motors Co. spent time running complex supply chains before they got the top jobs, but logistics educators say greater boardroom acknowledgement of the make-or-break role such skills play is long overdue.

“Any company that says they fully understand their supply chain is lying,” says Goentzel, who believes that supply-chain practitioners should be certified just like accountants. “It’s time for the profession to wake up. The 20th century was about finance. The 21st century should be about supply chains.”

By: Matthew Boyle

Source: Business School: MBA Students Forgo Finance for Supply-Chain Management Degree – Bloomberg

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The Pandemic Led Many Women To Rethink Work. Here’s What They Want Most From Employers

No one had it easy during the pandemic, but the data shows that women may have had a harder time than men. At the end of 2020, women held 5.4 million fewer jobs than they had in February 2020, before the pandemic began. Meanwhile, men lost 4.4 million jobs over that same time period.

While working-age women overall have largely recovered since the depths of the pandemic, mothers have repaired their losses more slowly.  As of July 2021, nearly 1 million fewer mothers were actively working than in July 2020, according to Misty Heggeness, principal economist and senior adviser at the Census Bureau.

There are things employers can do to help. In a panel discussion on Tuesday hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum, a national organization dedicated to developing and advancing policies for women, experts discussed what employers can do to keep their female employees, especially those with children, on the payroll. Here are three things women say they want:

1. Accessible child care.

Many of the current struggles women face derive from finding adequate and affordable child care, said Angela Rachidi, senior fellow and Rowe Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare.

She noted that many employer policies don’t completely meet a family’s needs, such as providing access to a convenient childcare provider. It’s also not particular to the pandemic, she noted that workplaces should be focusing on policies that offer more flexible, more affordable options, as opposed to just blanket childcare subsidies.

“I think that that’s where our focus should be,” said Rachidi. “It should be not only our government policies, but again, our workplace policies to make child care better, and meet the needs of families.”

2. Workplace flexibility.

Flexibility is vital to all working parents–not just mothers–but mothers are often quicker to express a desire to have the flexibility to work a reduced schedule, if need be, said Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington D.C. So if the goal is to keep working parents on the payroll–or get them back–allow them time off during the day if needed, or the ability to structure their own hours.

If you’ve offered more flexibility during the pandemic, think about maintaining those policies or asking employees their thoughts on new schedules. “The pandemic has allowed employers to see that they’re able to have these policies. And not only the paid family leave, but the remote work and the flexibility. And I think just will become a silver lining coming out of all of this,” said Greszler.

3. Paid-time off.

Paid-time off is useful for parents, who need the time to care for an infant or an ill loved one. President Biden’s American Families Plan includes $225 billion to create a paid medical and family leave program. The program would eventually guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave, and providing a federal subsidy for workers of up to $4,000 per month. The Department of Labor found that 95 percent of the lowest-wage workers, mostly women and workers of color, lack any access to paid family leave, so the program is needed.

But to keep women in the workforce long term, you should offer both paid leave and increased flexibility, said Greszler, because paid family leave, while necessary may have a lower utility for women on a day-to-day basis than, say, malleable hours.

“I don’t think [a lack of] paid family leave is is holding women back,” said Greszler. “Women increasingly value flexibility far more than family leave.”

Even so, both policies can be done and the balance of the two may also help employees be more productive. In 2019, for example the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decided its generous 52-week paid parental leave policy was not working because too many workers would be out at the same time, creating more disruption that it was worth. Instead, the organization decided to offer half as much paid leave and a $20,000 stipend to new parents to help cover expenses and childcare.

Source: The Pandemic Led Many Women to Rethink Work. Here’s What They Want Most From Employers | Inc.com

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Why Your Return to the Office Requires Two Workplace Safety Policies

Operating amid the pandemic has entered a new phase of difficulty–particularly for employers of both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Shortly after the CDC updated its guidelines on May 13, noting that vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear facemasks indoors, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency that oversees workplace health and safety, updated its Covid-19 guidance.

On June 26, OSHA updated guidance in compliance with the CDC to help employers protect workers who are still not vaccinated, with a special emphasis on industries with prolonged close-contacts such as meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, and grocery and high-volume retail. The guidance includes protocols for social distancing, mask wearing, and other health procedures meant to keep both parties safe.

Considering that just 52 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, chances are some of your employees have yet to get a jab. That means if you’re planning a return to the office, you’ll also need to create two separate workplace health policies.

These policies will be different from business to business, depending on the level of community spread in a given location and the level of contact employees have with the public. But acting is a must, says David Barron, labor and employment attorney at Cozen O’Connor. Failing to address a stratified workplace–or even just relying on the honor system–could lead to legal trouble, a loss of morale, turnover, and employees falling sick.

Founders like Dominique Kemps aren’t taking any chances. Her business, GlassExpertsFL, a commercial glass repair company, is located in Miami. Florida overall has been particularly hard hit by the Delta variant, a more contagious strain of the coronavirus. Daily, about 10 in 100,000 people are contracting the coronavirus by way of the Delta variant. As of July 2, only 46 percent of the population of Florida was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Kemps has devised two separate physical workspaces: one for vaccinated employees and another for those who remain unvaccinated. Also for unvaccinated employees, meetings are held virtually, while vaccinated employees can wear a mask and attend if desired. Vaccinated employees can also eat lunch together, while Kemps has asked unvaccinated employees to eat in a designated area. “Frankly,” she says, “it hasn’t been easy.”

Here’s how to ease the transition:

1. Request vaccination information.

Before you make any decisions regarding which policies to enact, first ask and keep track of who is vaccinated and who isn’t, says Dr. Shantanu Nundy, chief medical officer at Accolade, a benefit provider for health care workers. An employer can request a copy of an employee’s vaccination card or other proof, which should help you determine how much of your workforce falls under one policy or another.

If you opt to review vaccination information, note that anything you collect must be considered confidential information that has to be kept private in files that are separate from personnel files. A failure to do so may result in anti-discrimination violations under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, two laws that protect workers from health status discrimination.

2. Overcommunicate any policy changes.

It’s also crucial to communicate any change in policy openly. Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery, a Windsor, Connecticut-based creator of woodworking projects, divided workers into two shifts, the first for vaccinated individuals, and another for unvaccinated workers. He’s made it clear to his staff that he’s waiting until everyone is vaccinated before returning to the original schedule.

“The structure won’t compromise anyone’s safety and everyone can work without any worries in mind,” says Johnson.

3. Stay flexible.

If anything has been true about the pandemic, it’s that things can change rapidly. As such, Nundy recommends clarifying that policies are flexible and may be subject to change. Some unvaccinated folks may want to leave if they feel they’re being treated differently, such as not being allowed into the office. Some smart wording can easily allay these concerns, he says. Instead of telling unvaccinated employees that they’re not welcome in the office again, make it clear that the policies are temporary–if that’s the case, of course–and that you’re open to feedback, adds Nundy.

The occupational safety and health policy defines the goals for the occupational health and safety work in the workplace and for activities that promote the working capacity of the staff. The policy also describes occupational health and safety responsibilities and the way of organizing the cooperation measures. The preparation of the occupational safety and health policy is based on the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The policy is employer-specific and applies to all employers.

By: Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.@britnmorse

Source: Why Your Return to the Office Requires Two Workplace Safety Policies | Inc.com

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Critics:

Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. Known as ‘corporate wellbeing’ outside the US, workplace wellness often comprises activities such as health education, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs or facilities.

Workplace wellness programs can be categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention efforts, or an employer can implement programs that have elements of multiple types of prevention. Primary prevention programs usually target a fairly healthy employee population, and encourage them to more frequently engage in health behaviors that will encourage ongoing good health (such as stress management, exercise and healthy eating).

Secondary prevention programs are targeted at reducing behavior that is considered a risk factor for poor health (such as smoking cessation programs and screenings for high blood pressure). Tertiary health programs address existing health problems (for example, by encouraging employees to better adhere to specific medication or self-managed care guidelines).

References:

What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today?

A year into the pandemic, the implications of how Covid-19 has changed how people will work from now on are becoming clear. Many employees will be working in a hybrid world with more choices about where, when, and how much they work. For midsize companies specifically, Gartner analysis shows that 46% of the workforce is projected to be working hybrid in the near future.

To better understand the impact of Covid-19 on the future of work, we surveyed 3,049 knowledge workers and their managers across onsite, remote, and hybrid work contexts, as well as 75 HR leaders, including 20 leaders from midsize companies. Except where indicated, our findings come from these 2021 surveys.

Managers used to be selected and promoted largely based on their ability to manage and evaluate the performance of employees who could carry out a particular set of tasks. Within the last five years, HR executives started to hire and develop managers who were poised to be great coaches and teachers. But the assumption that coaching should be the primary function of management has been tested since the pandemic began. Three disruptive, transformative trends are challenging traditional definitions of the manager role:

Understanding Midsize Businesses

Normalization of remote work. As both employees and managers have become more distributed, their relationships to one another have also become more asynchronous. Gartner estimates that in more than 70% of manager-employee relationships, either the manager or the employee will be working remotely at least some of the time. This means that employees and their managers will be less likely to be working on the same things at the same time. Managers will have dramatically less visibility into the realities of their employees’ day-to-day and will begin to focus more on their outputs and less on the processes used to produce them.

Acceleration in use of technology to manage employees. More than one in four companies have invested in new technology to monitor their remote employees during the pandemic. Companies have been buying scheduling software, AI-enabled expense-report auditing tools, and even technologies to replace manager feedback using AI. While companies have been focused on how technology can automate employee tasks, it can just as effectively replace the tasks of managers. At the extreme, by 2024, new technologies have the potential to replace as much as 69% of the tasks historically done by managers, such as assigning work and nudging productivity.

Employees’ changing expectations. As companies have expanded the support they offer to their employees in areas like mental health and child care during the pandemic, the relationships between employees and their managers have started to shift to be more emotional and supportive. Knowledge workers now expect their managers to be part of their support system to help them improve their life experience, rather than just their employee experience.

When managerial tasks are replaced by technology, managers aren’t needed to manage workflows. When interactions become primarily virtual, managers can no longer rely on what they see to manage performance, and when relationships become more emotional, they can no longer limit the relationship to the sphere of work. These three trends have culminated in a new era of management where it’s less important to see what employees are doing and more important to understand how they feel.

Radical flexibility requires empathetic managers

To be successful in this new environment, managers must lead with empathy. In a 2021 Gartner survey of 4,787 global employees assessing the evolving role of management, only 47% of managers are prepared for this future role. The most effective managers of the future will be those who build fundamentally different relationships with their employees.

Empathy is nothing new. It’s a common term in the philosophy of good leadership, but it has yet to be a top management priority. The empathic manager is someone who can contextualize performance and behavior — who transcends simply understanding the facts of work and proactively asks questions and seeks information to place themselves in their direct reports’ contexts.

Empathy requires developing high levels of trust and care and a culture of acceptance within teams. This is a lot to ask of any individual: that they ask questions that produce vulnerable answers without compromising trust, diagnose the root cause of an employee’s behavior without making assumptions, and demonstrate the social-emotional intelligence necessary to imagine another’s feelings.

Empathy isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. In fact, in that same survey, 85% of HR leaders at midsize companies agreed that it’s more important now for managers to demonstrate empathy than it was before the pandemic. Further Gartner analysis shows that managers who display high levels of empathy have three times the impact on their employees’ performance than those who display low levels of empathy. Employees at organizations with high levels of empathy-based management are more than twice as likely to agree that their work environment is inclusive.

Creating a new workforce of empathic managers is especially difficult for midsize companies. While larger companies can earmark billions of dollars for learning and development for massive workforce transformation, smaller companies are more fiscally constrained and don’t have the same resources. Midsize companies also often don’t have the scale to create a managerial class within their workforce — they need managers to be both managers and doers.

Midsize companies need to find solutions to develop more empathic managers without massive investments and continue to have those managers work rather than just manage. This will require organizations and their HR functions to develop their managers’ skills, awaken their mindsets to manage in new ways, and create the capacity across the organization to enable this shift. Here’s how to adopt a holistic strategy that invests in all three of those strategies.

Develop empathy skills through vulnerable conversation practice

Asking managers to lead with empathy can be intimidating. Many managers understand empathy conceptually but aren’t sure how to use it as a management tool: Are these questions too personal? How do I create a trusting relationship with my direct reports? Is caring acceptable at work? How do I talk about social justice?

It goes against deeply ingrained assumptions that we should keep work and life separate. Managers need opportunities to practice — and, crucially, room to make mistakes — in order to learn to lead with empathy. Unfortunately, only 52% of 31 learning and development leaders polled in May 2020 report that they’re increasing their focus on soft skills.

To build empathy, Zillow creates cohorts of managers across the organization who engage in rotating one-on-one conversations with their peers to troubleshoot current managerial challenges. These conversations offer frequent, psychologically safe opportunities to engage in vulnerable conversations focused on how managers can commit to specific actions to care for themselves, as well as support the well-being of their team.

Managers are able to practice their empathy with their peers, asking specific questions to understand their challenges and articulating their own circumstances in response to probes. Importantly, these types of conversations offer managers the opportunity to fail — and in a safe space — which is an opportunity rarely given to figures of authority. They also help managers feel less isolated by practicing empathy with peers, who are less likely to pass judgment.

Empower a new manager mindset by creating a network of support

According to our 2021 survey of 4,787 global employees, 75% of HR leaders from midsize companies agree that managers’ roles have expanded, yet roles and teams are not structured to support well-being.

Goodway Group, a fully remote company since 2007, knows that the best business results and purpose for work happens within teams and that distributed teams face greater challenges with communication and shared visibility. Goodway created a dedicated role, the team success partner, whose responsibilities include fostering trust and psychological safety and supporting team health. Managers work with team success partners to respond to the unique challenges distributed employees are facing; this includes facilitating remote psychologically safe remote conversations and supporting new team member assimilation.

Managers’ motivation to be empathic increases when they have a support system that makes it clear that the burden isn’t theirs alone and when organizations invest in roles designed to support them.

Create manager capacity for empathy by optimizing reporting lines

Managers are already overburdened by the demands of the evolving work environment, and actions that drive empathy are time consuming. While 70% of midsize HR leaders agree managers are overwhelmed by their responsibilities, only 16% of midsize organizations have redefined the manager role to reduce the number of responsibilities on their plate.

Recognizing the pressure on managers to maintain team connectedness in a remote environment, leaders at Urgently, a digital roadside assistance company, rebalanced their managers’ workloads. When managers have a team size they can handle, they’re able to dedicate time to fostering deeper connections and responding with empathy. Moving to a hybrid environment creates complexity; one key part of the solution is to help managers prioritize their workload to focus on fewer, higher-impact relationships with individuals and teams.

Organizations that equip managers to be empathic by holistically addressing the three common barriers — skill, mindset, and capacity — will achieve outsized returns on performance in the post-Covid-19 world.

By:Brian Kropp, Alexia Cambon, and Sara Clark

Source: What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today?

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Critics:

In the field of management, strategic management involves the formulation and implementation of the major goals and initiatives taken by an organization‘s managers on behalf of stakeholders, based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organization operates. Strategic management provides overall direction to an enterprise and involves specifying the organization’s objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve those objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the plans.

Academics and practicing managers have developed numerous models and frameworks to assist in strategic decision-making in the context of complex environments and competitive dynamics. Strategic management is not static in nature; the models often include a feedback loop to monitor execution and to inform the next round of planning.

Michael Porter identifies three principles underlying strategy:

  • creating a “unique and valuable [market] position
  • making trade-offs by choosing “what not to do”
  • creating “fit” by aligning company activities with one another to support the chosen strategy

Corporate strategy involves answering a key question from a portfolio perspective: “What business should we be in?” Business strategy involves answering the question: “How shall we compete in this business?”

Management theory and practice often make a distinction between strategic management and operational management, with operational management concerned primarily with improving efficiency and controlling costs within the boundaries set by the organization’s strategy.

Interorganizational relationships allow independent organizations to get access to resources or to enter new markets. Interorganizational relationships represent a critical lever of competitive advantage.[40]

The field of strategic management has paid much attention to the different forms of relationships between organizations ranging from strategic alliances to buyer-supplier relationships, joint ventures, networks, R&D consortia, licensing, and franchising.

On the one hand, scholars drawing on organizational economics (e.g., transaction costs theory) have argued that firms use interorganizational relationships when they are the most efficient form comparatively to other forms of organization such as operating on its own or using the market. On the other hand, scholars drawing on organizational theory (e.g., resource dependence theory) suggest that firms tend to partner with others when such relationships allow them to improve their status, power, reputation, or legitimacy.

See also

The Pandemic Revealed How Much We Hate Our Jobs

Until March 2020, Kari and Britt Altizer of Richmond, Va., put in long hours at work, she in life-insurance sales and he as a restaurant manager, to support their young family. Their lives were frenetic, their schedules controlled by their jobs.

Then the pandemic shutdown hit, and they, like millions of others, found their world upended. Britt was briefly furloughed. Kari, 31, had to quit to care for their infant son. A native of Peru, she hoped to find remote work as a Spanish translator. When that didn’t pan out, she took a part-time sales job with a cleaning service that allowed her to take her son to the office. But as the baby grew into a toddler, that wasn’t feasible either.

Meanwhile, the furlough prompted her husband, 30, to reassess his own career. “I did some soul searching. During the time I was home, I was gardening and really loving life,” says Britt, who grew up on a farm and studied environmental science in college. “I realized working outdoors was something I had to get back to doing.”

Today, both have quit their old jobs and made a sharp pivot: they opened a landscaping business together. “We are taking a leap of faith,” Kari says, after realizing the prepandemic way of working simply doesn’t make sense anymore. Now they have control over their schedules, and her mom has moved nearby to care for their son. “I love what I’m doing. I’m closer to my goal of: I get to go to work, I don’t have to go to work,” Kari says. “We aren’t supposed to live to work. We’re supposed to work to live.”

As the postpandemic great reopening unfolds, millions of others are also reassessing their relationship to their jobs. The modern office was created after World War II, on a military model—strict hierarchies, created by men for men, with an assumption that there is a wife to handle duties at home.

But after years of gradual change in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, there’s a growing realization that the model is broken. Millions of people have spent the past year re-evaluating their priorities. How much time do they want to spend in an office? Where do they want to live if they can work remotely? Do they want to switch careers? For many, this has become a moment to literally redefine what is work.

More fundamentally, the pandemic has masked a deep unhappiness that a startling number of Americans have with the -workplace. During the first stressful months of quarantine, job turnover plunged; people were just hoping to hang on to what they had, even if they hated their jobs.

For many more millions of essential workers, there was never a choice but to keep showing up at stores, on deliveries and in factories, often at great risk to themselves, with food and agricultural workers facing a higher chance of death on the job. But now millions of white collar professionals and office workers appear poised to jump. Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, set off a Twitter-storm by predicting, “The great resignation is coming.”

But those conversations miss a much more consequential point. The true significance isn’t what we are leaving; it’s what we are going toward. In a surprising phenomenon, people are not just abandoning jobs but switching professions. This is a radical re-assessment of our careers, a great reset in how we think about work. A Pew survey in January found that 66% of unemployed people have seriously considered changing occupations—and significantly, that phenomenon is common to those at every income level, not just the privileged high earners.

A third of those surveyed have started taking courses or job retraining. Pew doesn’t have comparable earlier data, but in a 2016 survey, about 80% of people reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs.

Early on in the pandemic, Lucy Chang Evans, a 48-year-old Naperville, Ill., civil engineer, quit her job to help her three kids with remote learning while pursuing an online MBA. Becoming “a lot more introspective,” she realized she’s done with toxic workplaces: “I feel like I’m not willing to put up with abusive behavior at work anymore.” She also plans to pivot into a more meaningful career, focused on tackling climate change.

The deep unhappiness with jobs points to a larger problem in how workplaces are structured. The line between work and home has been blurring for decades—and with the pandemic, obliterated completely for many of us, as we have been literally living at work. Meanwhile, the stark divide between white collar workers and those with hourly on-site jobs—grocery clerks, bus drivers, delivery people—became painfully visible. During the pandemic, nearly half of all employees with advanced degrees were working remotely, while more than 90% of those with a high school diploma or less had to show up in person, CoStar found.

Business leaders are as confused as the rest of us—perhaps more so—when it comes to navigating the multiple demands and expectations of the new workplace. Consider their conflicting approaches to remote work. Tech firms including Twitter, Dropbox, Shopify and Reddit are all allowing employees the option to work at home permanently, while oil company Phillips 66 brought back most staff to its Houston headquarters almost a year ago. Target and Walmart have both allowed corporate staff to work remotely, while low-paid workers faced potential COVID-19 exposure on store floors.

In the financial industry, titans like Blackstone, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs expect employees to be back on site this summer. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently declared that remote work “doesn’t work for those who want to hustle-. It doesn’t work in terms of spontaneous idea generation,” and “you know, people don’t like commuting, but so what.”

There’s a real risk that office culture could devolve into a class system, with on-site employees favored over remote workers. WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani recently insisted that the “least engaged are very comfortable working from home,” a stunning indictment that discounts working parents everywhere and suggests that those who might need flexibility—like those caring for relatives—couldn’t possibly be ambitious.

Mathrani’s comments are yet another reminder that the pandemic shutdown has been devastating for women, throwing into high relief just how inhospitable and precarious the workplace can be for caretakers. Faced with the impossible task of handling the majority of childcare and homeschooling, 4.2 million women dropped out of the labor force from February 2020 to April 2020—and nearly 2 million still haven’t returned. Oxfam calculates that women globally lost a breathtaking $800 billion in income in 2020. Women’s progress in terms of U.S. workforce participation has been set back by more than three decades.

Despite Mathrani’s assertion, there’s little evidence that remote employees are less engaged. There is, however, plenty of evidence that we’re actually working more. A study by Harvard Business School found that people were working on average 48 minutes more per day after the lockdown started. A new research paper from the University of Chicago and University of Essex found remote workers upped their hours by 30%, yet didn’t increase productivity.

All this comes at a moment when business and culture have never been more intertwined. As work has taken over people’s lives and Americans are doing less together outside the office, more and more of people’s political beliefs and social life are defining the office. In thousands of Zoom meetings over the past year, employees have demanded that their leaders take on systemic racism, sexism, transgender rights, gun control and more.

People have increasingly outsize expectations of their employers. This year, business surpassed nonprofits to become the most trusted institution globally, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, and people are looking to business to take an active role tackling racism, climate change and misinformation.

“Employees, customers, shareholders—all of these stakeholder groups—are saying, You’ve got to deal with some of these issues,” says Ken Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express and currently chairman and managing partner of General Catalyst. “If people are going to spend so much time at a company, they really want to believe that the mission and behavior of the company is consistent with, and aligned with, their values.”

Hundreds of top executives signed on to a statement that he and Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, organized this year opposing “any discriminatory legislation” in the wake of Georgia’s new voting law. Yet those same moves have landed some executives in the crosshairs of conservative politicians.

That points to the central dilemma facing us all as we rethink how we work. Multiple surveys suggest Americans are eager to work remotely at least part of the time—the ideal consensus seems to be coalescing around three days in the office and two days remote. Yet the hybrid model comes with its own complexities.

If managers with families and commutes choose to work remotely, but younger employees are on site, the latter could lack opportunities for absorbing corporate culture or for being mentored. Hybrid work could also limit those serendipitous office interactions that lead to promotions and breakthrough ideas.

Yet if it’s done correctly, there’s a chance to bring balance back into our lives, to a degree that we haven’t seen at least since the widespread adoption of email and cell phones. Not just parents but all employees would be better off with more flexible time to recharge, exercise and, oh yeah, sleep.

There’s also a hidden benefit in a year of sweatpants wearing and Zoom meetings: a more casual, more authentic version of our colleagues, with unwashed hair, pets, kids and laundry all on display. That too would help level the playing field, especially for professional women who, over the course of their careers, spend thousands of hours more than men just getting ready for work.

There are glimmers of progress. During the pandemic, as rates of depression and anxiety soared—to 40% of all U.S. adults, quadruple previous levels—a number of companies began offering enhanced mental-health services and paid “recharge” days, among them LinkedIn, Citigroup, Red Hat and SAP.

Some companies are offering subsidized childcare, including Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Home Depot. More than 200 businesses, along with the advocacy group Time’s Up, recently created a coalition to push for child and eldercare solutions. It’s essential that these measures stay in place.

We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to reinvent, to create workplace culture almost from scratch. Over the past decades, various types of businesses have rotated in and out of favor—conglomerates in the ’60s, junk bonds in the ’80s, tech in the ’00s—but the basic workplace structure, of office cubicles and face time, has remained the same.

It’s time to allow the creative ideas to flow. For example, companies are stuck with millions of square feet of now unused office space—sublet space soared by 40% from late 2019 to this year, CoStar found. Why not use that extra space for day care? Working parents of small children would jump at the opportunity to have a safe, affordable option, while having their kids close by.

Now would also be a good time to finally dump the 9-to-5, five-day workweek. For plenty of job categories, that cadence no longer makes sense. Multiple companies are already experimenting with four-day workweeks, including Unilever New Zealand, and Spain is rolling out a trial nationwide. Companies that have already tested the concept have reported significant productivity increases, from 20% (New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian, which has since made the practice permanent) to 40% (Microsoft Japan, in a limited trial).

That schedule too would be more equitable for working moms, many of whom work supposedly part-time jobs with reduced pay yet are just as productive as their fully paid colleagues. Meanwhile, the 9-to-5 office-hours standard becomes irrelevant, especially when people don’t have meetings and are working remotely or in different time zones.

While we’re at it, let’s kill the commute. Some companies are already creating neighborhood co-working hubs for those who live far from the home office. Outdoor retailer REI is going a step further: it sold its new Bellevue, Wash., headquarters in a cost-cutting move and is now setting up satellite offices in the surrounding Puget Sound area. Restaurants might get in on the act too; they could convert dining areas into co-working spaces during off hours, or rent out private rooms by the day for meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Some of the shortcomings of remote work—the lack of camaraderie and mentoring, the fear of being forgotten—may ultimately be bridged by new technology. Google and Microsoft are already starting to integrate prominent remote-videoconferencing capabilities more fully into meeting spaces, so that remote workers don’t seem like an afterthought. Augmented reality, which so far has been used most notably for games like Pokémon Go, could end up transforming into a useful work tool, allowing remote workers to “seem” to be in the room with on-site workers.

There are plenty of other ideas out there, and a popular groundswell of support for flexibility and life balance that makes sense for all of us. Will we get there, or will we slide back into our old ways? That’s on us. Companies that don’t reinvent may well pay the price, losing top talent to businesses that do.

“We aren’t robots,” Kari Altizer says. “Before, we thought it was impossible to work with our children next to us. Now, we know it is possible—but we have to change the ways in which we work.”

By Joanne Lipman

Source: COVID-19 Changed Work Forever | Time

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References

We Need to Reimagine a More Family-Friendly Workplace

I started five businesses from scratch, and I can tell you the quality of talent that I was able to recruit early on made all the difference in whether I succeeded or stumbled.

What I’ve learned over the years is that recruiting the best and brightest isn’t just about cushy office furniture or amenities like free coffee, a stocked fridge or a downstairs gym. Today’s talent are seeking employers who offer a education fund or even a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) account to help pay for support services.

I see a small number of big businesses, such as and , incorporating child care into their list of employee perks. But, smaller businesses can also up their perks game by offering child care as a benefit. This creates a where parents feel supported and encouraged to advance in their careers.

Lifting the constant financial and emotional burden of working parents will no doubt raise the bar on the caliber of employees you attract and retain.

Family benefits not only foster loyalty, but these pro-family policies can also be profitable by boosting productivity.  The availability of paid child care plays a key role in allowing parents with children to remain in the labor force.  In each year from 2016 to 2018, more than 2 million parents of children age 5 and younger had to quit a job, not take a job, or change their job because of child care challenges — disproportionately affecting women. American businesses, meanwhile, lose an estimated $12.7 billion annually because of their employees’ child care challenges. Nationally, the cost of lost earnings, productivity, and revenue due to the child care crisis is estimated at $57 billion annually.

Lack of child care is also one of the primary factors that prevent us from creating an equitable workforce and eliminating the wage and gender gap. Just take a look at the millions of mothers who have lost or left their jobs due to child care burdens caused by the pandemic.

Since March 2020, Black and Latina moms have stopped working, either voluntarily or due to layoffs, at higher rates than white moms. Many are single moms who need child care but haven’t been able to access it during the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, single moms had higher rates of than their childless counterparts in the second and third quarters of 2020.

Experts forecast that loss of skills, tenure and income among women of color will shape the future U.S. . One reason is that insufficient child care could impact their ability to re-enter the workforce, their wages, their long-term economic outcomes and the overall economic recovery.

Like many single mom of color, I also struggled with chasing the “American Dream” due to child care challenges. In fact, my success as a C-level executive was slowed due to lack of adequate child care for my son. In 2004, for example, I was passed for a vice president of sales position because I couldn’t make it to work at the required 6:30 a.m. time due to lack of before-school care for my son. I struggled throughout much of my career with this challenge, especially being in technology, a primarily male-dominted industry.

Related: 4 Ways Your Company Can Radically Help Working Mothers

In an era where women are projected to make up 60% of the workforce in the next five years, employers can leverage existing technology to provide fully managed child care benefits, giving their workforce the flexibility and family support needed to gain employee productivity and increase ROI.

As entrepreneurs and company leaders, we can do better. We have the power to completely change the course of child care in the US while dramatically transforming our company cultures by redesigning the workplace to be more family friendly. This is the future of work.

By: Alessandra Lezama / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Source: We Need to Reimagine a More Family-Friendly Workplace

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Critics:

Work–family balance in the United States refers to the specific issues that arise when men and women in the United States attempt to balance their occupational lives with their family lives. This differs from work–life balance in the United States: while work–life balance may refer to the health and living issues that arise from work, work–family balance refers specifically to how work and families intersect and influence each other. Work–family balance in the U.S. differs significantly for families of different social class.

Middle-class family issues center on dual-earner spouses and parents while lower class issues center on problems that arise due to single parenting. Work–family balance issues also differ by class, since middle class occupations provide more benefits and family support while low-wage jobs are less flexible with benefits. Solutions for helping individuals manage work–family balance in the U.S. include legislation, workplace policies, and the marketization of care work.

References

Dillaway, Heather and Elizabeth Pare. 2008. “Locating Mothers How Cultural Debates About Stay-at-Home Versus Working Mothers Define Women and Home.” Journal of Family Issues 29(4): 437-464.

Don’t Let a Bad Tech Stack Hurt Employee Retention

A bad tech stack can make it difficult for companies to succeed against competitors in everything from customer engagement and sales to production and innovation. But, outdated, annoying or confusing technology can also harm your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent, which will be increasingly difficult and important as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and the labor market tightens.

To be sure, it will be several years before the U.S. and global economies return to pre-COVID levels. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. won’t hit pre-pandemic employment levels until 2024. But given that major enterprise IT shifts can also take years, now is the time to evaluate your tech stack and ensure your organization has the right tools for a digital workforce that’s geographically dispersed, discerning when it comes to technology and willing to walk if an employer’s technology hinders their success.

Don’t believe me?

According the State of Software Happiness Report 2019 from G2:

  • 52% of workers said they have “become dissatisfied at work due to missing or mismatched software”
  • 24% of respondents said they have “considered looking for a new job” because they “didn’t have the right software”
  • 13% of employees said they have actually left a job because of the software their employer required them to use
  • 95% of workers said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with better software tools
  • 86% of respondents said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with more software tools

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to close offices and most office workers to become telecommuters, technology became and even more important factor in employee job satisfaction. According to Adobe Workfront’s State of Work 2021 report, released last week:

  • 32% of workers said they had left a job because the employer’s technology “was a barrier to their ability to do good work.” This was up from 22% pre-COVID.
  • 49% of U.S. workers said they are “likely to leave their current job if they’re unhappy or frustrated with the technology they use at work.”
  • 12 point increase in the number of people “who report turning down a job because the tech was out of date or hard to use” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020
  •  7 point increase in the number of people “who reported applying for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020

Check out Dallon Adams’ article on ZDNet sibling site TechRepublic for more insights from the Workfront report on how Gen Xers are thriving in the world of remote work with millennials are struggling.

5 ways companies can improve employee IT satisfaction

So, as companies race to accelerate their digital transformation efforts to meet the needs of their customers in the new normal, they should also re-examine the hardware and software their employees are using. Here are few tips for building a tech stack that can help promote employee success, boost productivity, and build good will for IT.

  1. Make sure existing tools meet user needs and work as expected: Before you roll out new hardware and software, start with what you already have. Conduct a user satisfaction survey to find out if your current tech stack is meeting employee needs. A TechRepublic 2014 enterprise application software report found that only 26% of respondents were “very satisfied” with their software. IT can also use service desk call logs or reporting tools within their IT service management solution to detect applications and hardware that create regular pain points for end users.
  2. Give employees access to “new” technology: According to the Workfront report, employees are more interested in having access to “new” technology now compared to before the pandemic. The report showed a 5 point increase in the number of respondents who said that “old technology is making it harder to take on more work.” I know budget is always a consideration with any IT purchase, but if your staff is still using 7-year-old computers, it’s time to rethink your IT budget.
  3. Offer employees choice as a rule not an exception: Another data point from the Workfront report was that employees “expect their employers to trust and empower them to know how to achieve the right outcomes.” When I first started my IT career, there were Windows shops and then there was everything else. But today, and honestly for the last decade, modern device management tools and cloud services make it easier than ever to manage multiple operating systems, applications, and hardware platforms. With few exceptions, IT shouldn’t lock employees into (or more importantly out of) tools they believe will help them achieve company goals. I’m not suggesting you should run 5 different finance or CRM systems, but, there’s no reason not to support multiple productivity suites. If accounting needs Excel, sales wants PowerPoint, and everyone else wants Google Docs…fine. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace can coexist. And if you’re thinking, “But Bill, we’ll get a price break if we use a single software platform.” Those initial low-price deals often expire in a few years (like an introductory interest rate on a credit card) and then you’re back to paying market rates. The same goes for hardware. If Legal wants Windows laptops, the Sales staff wants MacBooks, and your devs want Windows workstations make it happen. Sure, you can have a “standard” machine and drive image that you give to 80% of staff, but don’t just be the department of “no” when someone makes a legitimate business request.
  4. Support flexible/remote working environments: Even as COVID vaccines reach more workers, employees return to offices and public venues reopen, the nature of work has been forever changed by the pandemic. More people will work remotely than before COVID, and IT will need to switch from reactively supporting telecommuters to proactively empowering them. This means giving people have access to the hardware (monitors, keyboards, mice, trackpads, cables, external storage devices, etc.), software, and cloud services they need to work effectively from their home.
  5. Balance security with ease of use: If you make a security measure too onerous for people, they’ll find a way around it. This fact holds true for physical and cybersecurity. There’s no doubt in today’s world of constant cyberattacks everyone organization and individual needs to use strong security tools and follow best practices, there’s a fine line between doing security and overdoing security. For example, IBM released research in 2020 that shows simply deploying lots and lots os security tools doesn’t lead to stronger security. “The enterprise is slowly improving its response to cybersecurity incidents, but in the same breath, it is still investing in too many tools that can actually reduce the effectiveness of defense,” wrote Charlie Osborne for ZDNet’s Zero Day in her article on the report. For practical tips on balancing security and user accessibility, check out Scott Matteson’s list of cybersecurity do’s and don’ts.

When done together, these steps can go a long way to build a tech stack that fosters employee satisfaction with IT and the company as a whole, which as research shows is important for hiring and keeping top talent.

By:

Source: Don’t let a bad tech stack hurt employee retention, use these tips to improve worker IT satisfaction | ZDNet

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