How CHROs can lead on transformation transcript

How can human resources leaders create a culture that drives reinvention?
Peter Brown, Global Leader for People and Organization, PwC United Kingdom
Parul Munshi, Regional Sustainability Leader | Southeast Asia Consulting, PwC Singapore
Harriet Newlyn, Workforce Technology Leader, Partner, PwC UK

Companies today need to reinvent themselves for the future. Yet Our global survey of nearly 54,000 workers suggests many organisations don't have a culture that supports experimentation or debate - which are critical to reinvention. Only 35% of workers think that their manager tolerates small scale failures, and only a third say that their manager encourages dissent and debates. Those numbers are much lower than what senior executives said about their own companies in our global CEO survey earlier this year. While small one in five workers feel that their workload was frequently unmanageable in the prior 12 months. The good news is that human resource leaders can help shift their culture so that workers are better able to learn, experiment and surface new ideas. I'm here with two of my PwC colleagues, Parul Munshi, our Global Workforce Sustainability Leader and Harriet Newlyn, a Global Workforce Technology Leader. Harriet, Let's start with the survey findings. 

Why are these red flags for CHROs? 

Well, we know that employees are often the best source for innovation and new ideas, and they need to be able to experiment, but they also need to be able to understand that it's okay to make mistakes. They need to speak up and voice different opinions. And what the survey showed us was that not many organisations have this today. 

Parul, if you were a CHRO, what can you do to help companies be more tolerant of small scale mistakes? 

I think Pete this is a really important point because I think in an era of radical ambition, I think we have to remember that that has to be accompanied by radical candour, which basically means infusing more humanistic styles into our organisation. So firstly, I would say that you should ensure that your managers understand that small scale failures are really part of the innovation process and needs to be seen in that context. I think also leaders do need to play their role in helping people understand and reframe their small scale failures as opportunities for growth and development. And I think that's when true transformation really happens. 

Harriet, what else are CHRO to do?

I'll add that listening to employees is really important. Understanding the culture that enables employees to speak up. You can do that through quick hit pulse, surveys, and various different listening channels, but you should also be listening to your employees outside of the organisation. What they're talking about you on social media and about your culture. 

One point I'd add is that it's really important to address burnout and overwork. I think CHROs really have to champion and prioritise well-being so that employees have the energy to focus on new things. I think they can also help by coaching managers on how to recognise overwork and how to have open conversations with employees around workload stress levels and potential burnout triggers. I think finally creating a designated time for employees to learn at work so that it's not something that's a bolt or on top of their normal daily workload.  

We invite you to explore the findings in more detail in this year's Global Workforce Hopes and Fears survey out now. 

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