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How to Future-Proof Your Organization to Thrive in an Ever-Changing World

The world around us is in a constant state of flux, and it’s crucial that organizations adapt—or risk disruption and possible extinction. Customer needs change, companies innovate, economies expand and contract, and world events can send shockwaves that affect people and businesses everywhere. As a result, it’s critical to think ahead so you don’t get left behind.

In the aftermath of a global pandemic, we continue seeing shifts in the workplace across multiple industries. How can organizations prepare for the unknown and continue to evolve during times of uncertainty? Future-proofing can help ensure your organization doesn’t just survive these challenges but that it continues to thrive.

So what exactly does future-proofing mean, and how can business leaders and L&D teams create a resilient workforce that can outlast unforeseen circumstances? Discover more about this critical business need and what you can do to stay ready in an ever-changing world.

Future-proofing your organization is important now, more than ever

The pandemic has led to a dramatic shift in how we work and what companies need. McKinsey’s report, COVID-19: Implications for business, states that sustainable, inclusive growth will require changing the workplace to maximize the contributions of all people. In addition, there’s now an added emphasis on areas like the digital customer experience, company culture, employee well-being, technology, and innovation. 

Businesses need to evolve the way they operate and stay agile as things continue to change in our ‘new normal.’ 

For example, many organizations are currently balancing the Great Resignation and talent scarcity with record-high inflation and economic uncertainty. Future-proofing your organization can help you endure this period and quickly adapt when the economy stabilizes.

How to future-proof your business

While there’s no telling exactly what the future has in store, there are some critical steps you can take to overcome inevitable challenges that could impact your organization. 

Upgrade your customer experience

Nearly 90 percent of buyers say the customer experience a company provides matters as much as their products or services. What’s more, buyers indicate that excellent customer experiences drive loyalty that can help your company attract and retain customers:

  • 94% say a positive customer experience makes them more likely to purchase again
  • 82% have recommended a company based on excellent customer service
  • 80% will forgive a company for a mistake after receiving excellent service
  • 78% have made purchase decisions based on the quality of customer service

But expectations around what constitutes a positive customer experience are changing. As a result, organizations must shift how they think about the customer experience if they want to thrive in the new normal. 

For example, customers have become accustomed to convenient, fast shopping experiences and customer service interactions. Most customers (57 percent) prefer to engage through digital channels, and 56 percent of buyers are comfortable with fully-automated interactions

It’s becoming increasingly important to supplement human interactions with digital tools like AI-powered chatbots and an on-demand customer education program. Seventy-eight percent of customers consider blended technology-human interactions a better experience than human-only ones. In addition, your customers have their businesses to run and customers to support, so they need access to the right resources at the right time to be successful.

Customer expectations will continue to evolve, and you must shift to anticipate and accommodate those changes.

Foster innovation

It’s no secret that innovation is key to a company’s long-term success. Finding ways to do things better, faster, or at lower cost can help you generate sustained growth, stay relevant in the marketplace, and maintain a competitive edge.

You must be willing to try new things and have a growth mindset that applies to your team, strategy, and product or service. For example, employee engagement can help you boost productivity, increasing sales and profitability. Similarly, automating repetitive processes can free up your team members’ time to focus on more strategic initiatives that will move your company forward.

“Teams must continue to stay competitive in this remote/hybrid workplace. This means constantly testing and iterating, and understanding your customer’s needs, and consistently innovating to remain agile in an unpredictable, ever-changing environment.”

 

Annie Pearl, Chief Product Officer at Calendly

You can pull many levers to foster innovation, but perhaps the most important is building a culture of feedback and recognition. First, actively encourage your employees to share new ideas and provide feedback on what you can do differently. This feedback loop is particularly useful for customer-facing employees whose insights can help you better understand your buyers’ needs. Then implement changes based on feedback and recognize your team members for their innovative contributions to ensure their ideas keep coming. Repeating this process on an ongoing basis can help you stay competitive in our ever-changing world.

Upskill and reskill for a tech-enabled future

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation as many companies needed to find ways to facilitate social distancing.

For example, fast food chains offer contactless ordering from your mobile device or a touch-screen inside the restaurant. You can attend medical appointments virtually. And workers can collaborate from anywhere in the world. 

New technology is deeply entrenched in many organizations and will only become more prevalent over time. Technology-related jobs currently comprise over 50 percent of the top 20 most in-demand roles. These include data analysts and scientists, artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists, and digital marketing and strategy specialists.

There’s a greater need for employees to be technologically savvy, and 98 percent of organizations say they’re training existing employees in response to shifting skills needs. In addition to the technical skills needed to perform those roles, employers are interested in soft skills such as:

  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creativity
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Resilience/stress tolerance/flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Persuasion and negotiation 

Upskilling and reskilling your team members will help your organization overcome a skills gap and adapt to a tech-enabled future while also helping your employees grow in their careers.

Invest in your employees

Your employees are your greatest asset. Their experience, knowledge, and abilities help you fulfill your company mission and vision to reach your business goals. A great team can even carry your company through tough times and help you come out stronger on the other side. 

Invest in your team to create a positive employee experience. As a result, team members will be happier and more loyal, engaged, and productive. Here are some ways you can invest in your employees.

Provide continuous learning opportunities 

Career development is a leading reason people leave their jobs, but 94 percent of workers said they’d stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their careers. An effective learning and development program will help you retain talent while overcoming a skills gap, so you’ll have the personnel you need to be successful long-term.

“Learning enables every professional to reach their full potential. Talent is at the heart of every business, so when you continuously provide engaging learning experiences, it empowers your employees to perform at their peak. In this way, learning becomes a growth engine for your entire organization. If you want to gain a competitive edge and be able to withstand anything the world or market may throw at you, prioritize learning and professional development opportunities for your teams.”

 

Ted Blosser, Co-Founder and CEO, WorkRamp

Offer remote and hybrid work options

Data projections estimate that 25 percent of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022. In addition, 74 percent of U.S. companies either offer or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model.

 Remote work is here to stay, and many worthwhile benefits exist for employees and employers. For example, better work-life balance, higher productivity and efficiency, improved morale, and increased loyalty and retention. 

Award competitive compensation

Compensation is another top reason for employee turnover. Thirty-seven percent of workers have cited low pay as a major reason for leaving a job in 2021, with another 26 percent listing it as a minor reason. Inflation is high, and wages are rising quickly. 

Offering competitive compensation helps your employees bring their best selves to work and is crucial for a positive employee experience. Revisit your compensation strategy sooner than later and show your employees that you value their contributions to your team.

Define your purpose and goals and align them with your strategy

Changes throughout the past few years may have altered your organization’s trajectory. So take the time to re-envision your company’s future and the path you’ll take to get there. 

Begin by defining your organization’s purpose, vision, values, and goals-then use those as a North Star for all your decisions, changes, and innovations. Consider what your customers want, what you currently offer, and where you can innovate. Then map out a plan. For example, if your company uses Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), determine OKRs for each department and the necessary steps to accomplish these objectives. If you use another goal-setting method, map these out and include deadlines and milestones for your long- and short-term goals.

Documenting this strategy will help your entire organization align and stay focused so you can move toward your goals as a cohesive team.

The market will continue to evolve and so should your company

There’s still much to be seen about how the ‘new normal’ will continue to evolve and how current global events will impact organizations long-term. And, of course, it’s impossible to predict other challenges that could impact your business in the future.

But you can increase your chances of success by future-proofing your business based on the information you have at your disposal. Upgrade your customer experience to meet modern demands and foster innovation to uncover ways to do things better, faster, or at a lower cost. Invest in your team members to have the talent you need to move your business forward. Finally, reevaluate your goals so you can adjust your business strategy accordingly. This can help set you up for success in the current market and beyond.

Want to learn more about how WorkRamp can help you future-proof your workforce? Contact us to schedule a free demo.

 

Jen Dewar

Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in HR technology, focusing on developing educational content for HR professionals and recruiters. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout candidate and employee experiences. Outside of work, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe, enjoying a glass of wine in Sonoma, or hanging out at home with her family.

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