Blog article

Why corporate well-being initiatives need to get personal

It’s now been several months since companies first implemented their COVID-19 crisis response initiatives. Although in many parts of the world the virus continues to present serious health and economic challenges, company leaders must balance such urgencies with the need to take a longer-term view of their company’s prospects. To better understand this dynamic, PwC recently conducted a CEO Panel SurveyPDF, asking nearly 700 CEOs how their company’s business model will change after the pandemic. Their responses spoke volumes about how the future of work is likely to evolve.

As the leaders of small private firms and US$1 billion-plus public companies, representing a diverse cross section of industries, countries, and regions, these CEOs make the decisions that will redefine how and where work gets done — with implications for untold numbers of employees. The survey revealed that CEOs’ plans focus on three key areas: to become more digital

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Lessons from COVID-19 about communicating risk

Using a beer can, a measuring tape, spray cans full of starter fluid, and Styrofoam mannequin heads, the YouTube personality Uncle Rob made a popular video illustrating the power of face masks to stop aerosol spray at various distances.

The video is my hands-down favorite among the wide range of messaging tools individuals and organizations have used to persuade people to take steps to reduce risks to themselves and others amid COVID-19. A close second would be the widely shared “Stay Home, Save Lives” memes that my fellow Chicagoans made using a cardboard cutout of our mayor with a stern look on her face. Both use creativity and a generous dose of humor.

More pedestrian but equally important examples are the graphics showing how (and how not) to wear a mask, and color-coded maps of states showing progress controlling the disease. The World Health Organization produced a series of

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The power of feelings at work

Imagine two call centers. In the first, you see smiles and concentrating faces, and overhear heartfelt efforts to help. There is a tangible buzz of hard work but also a feeling of energy and commitment. In the second call center, you see scowls, pained expressions, and eye rolls. Representatives carefully adhere to rote scripts, but their voices lack empathy and warmth. Despite frequent breaks and lags between calls, employees already seem exhausted halfway through the day.

Many would chalk up these differences to culture, the seemingly nebulous and hard-to-control factor that contributes to business success. Our work over the last three decades has centered on culture. We have developed effective tactics to align cultures and strategies and tap into the momentum that a culture can lend to any business effort. What has struck us, again and again, and what we’re sharing now for the first time, is the consistent gateway

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A CEO who won’t take the gloves off

Do not open Philip Roth’s American Pastoral for lessons about business. That would be like opening a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild to quench your thirst.

A tragedy of classical proportions about a profoundly decent businessman, this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel concerns itself with the durability of faith, the cost of dreams, and our inability to abolish our own vulnerability. These themes are embodied in characters as vivid as relatives, all of them enacting America’s wrenching history in the second half of the 20th century.

In American Pastoral, in other words, Roth — one of the great novelists of the past half-century — swings for the fences. Yet the book is also unmistakably a novel about business, one that doesn’t condemn its supposed evils but celebrates its marvels. In no other literary work are the joys and burdens, the relationships and rewards, the egotism and the self-denial of business leadership

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Stretch or safe? The art of setting goals for your teams

As researchers and drug companies race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the global economy continues to struggle to gain a footing. Every scrap of good news — say, a surprising pocket of strength in a particular sector — is matched by a sign of ongoing weakness elsewhere, raising questions about the long-term viability of certain companies and industries.

With so little clarity about the future, how can leaders set business goals for the next six months to a year? During the dozen years between the 2008 financial crisis and the current pandemic, the world seemed far more stable, and budgeting was more of a predictable process. But now? Who knows. We are living in an era of VUCA, an acronym coined by the U.S. Army War College that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

This uncertainty is raising new challenges for a fundamental leadership

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