Pre-pandemic, businesses across the world were engaged in discussions on future of work. The knowledge economy, Industry 4.0, evolving labour legislations all were the factors influencing the course of work and discourse on the subject. However, post-pandemic the corporate world is witnessing not only a paradigm shift in work but workplace too. The redefined concept of workplace today coupled with inclusion of more and more social facets in their business operations and policies, are now, slowly and silently, reshaping the very character of corporate entities itself.
Here are five key factors that are impelling corporate entities to embrace social dimensions and objectives:
#1. Employee demands: WFH/WFA has afforded not only flexibility of work to employees but has also helped them restore work-life balance. Accustomed to the new work styles, they now expect this flexibility to continue. Some others, opting to go to office, are expecting some ‘me-time’ hours during office hours. Better flexibility at work, conducive and hygienic working conditions, provision of health care, empathetic human resource practices are the demands and expectations of employees. Indeed, all this is changing employee-employer relationships. A cordial, considerate, sensitive, and humane responses from corporate entities are the need of the hour.
#2. Talent Retention: With lower-order skilled or talented workforce the companies can always negotiate well in terms of employment, compensation, and work practices. But it is not going to be easy with top talents and expertise who now demand greater flexibility at work and seek purpose and value in work. Thanks to the pandemic, with greater resilience, adaptability, and higher appetite to explore new opportunities, these employees do not mind asserting their expectations and even hopping jobs. Talent retention and grabbing, especially in tech sector, is an emerging challenge for corporates.
#3. Stakeholders’ expectations: The pandemic has broadened business perspectives and the rules of business have become friendlier for the small stakeholders like debtors, creditors, suppliers, otherwise playing a vital role in the supply chains of businesses and industries. Be it soft credit terms, faster receivables payments, bridge finance, the corporates are trying to match up to the needs of small firms who have seen their operations crippled during the pandemic. Realizing the importance of having long-lasting relationships with these vital entities for longevity of their business, corporates are displaying much-needed handholding, reciprocity, and sense of fraternity.
#4. ESG narrative
Looking at social responsibility as a positive force in society, companies are increasingly ramping up their focus on the same. The issues of gender parity, environment protection, sustainability, poverty alleviation etc. are frequently figuring in Board level deliberations. Social responsibility is also being demonstrated by way of CSR activities in greater measure, particularly in green and sustainability projects. Such social engagements and outreach by the corporates project more attractive images to both consumers, shareholders, and investors, which in turn serves to spruce up their branding and positively impact bottom lines as well.
#5. Policy reforms
Public policy and governance are now focused on creating better labour eco-system. Issues of employment, wages, education, skills, social safety nets etc. are finding more attention from governments across nations, giving strong signals to employers about the preferred area of policy initiatives and actions. This has nudged corporates and business houses to be quite pro-active with humane HR policies on wellness, diversity, inclusion, and ethics at workplace. Clearly, for corporates, alignment of their policies on the government lines make sense as such pro-employee actions also help them to get on the right side of government.
Written by Ram Krishna Sinha.
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