Future-proofing your brand (Part 3 of 3)

by Zuerita
Future-proofing your brand (Part 3 of 3)

In Part 2 featured in the previous issue of Walls & Roofs, we discussed fostering innovation and the crucial aspects of adopting a start-up mindset. In this issue we explore retaining talent and the need for flexible working environments. We conclude by tying all three parts together and explaining how they can be best utilised within business.

Behind the most innovative companies are the most innovative people. Retaining and incentivising the talent who will have the “next great idea” is step one for creative organisations. Creative employees unearth new market opportunities, shake industries up from the ground and innovate new products. And when an organisation is built on the promise of creativity, losing this talent could mean losing its competitive edge.

Yet, retaining talent remains a challenge today: 44% of those surveyed reported average tenure was three to four years at their companies, while 48% said the ideal would be longer at five to nine years. According to PwC, millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, making this cohort the largest share of the labour market. As such, employers need to understand their shifting priorities first and foremost.

Mirror the inside to the outside

“Create a strong company purpose and mirror this through everything you do, internally and externally.” – Daniela Dantas, consultant, LATAM

For millennials, there is no longer a disconnect between purpose and work. We spend more time at work and with the people we work with than anyone else, including our loved ones. To continue making this decision day after day, we need to believe in the purpose of the companies we choose.

Creative-led companies not only need to act with purpose, but provide opportunities for employees to find greater meaning within their day jobs. In fact, one recent study found that 55% of millennials claim they would consider turning down a job if they didn’t find meaning within it. As we reach the man-to-machine tipping point, people crave real meaning, purpose and connection in the products they buy, the experiences they have and the places where they choose to spend their time.

Hire for entrepreneurial spirit

“Hire for entrepreneurial spirit, not for experience, and then provide opportunities for every voice to be heard. In doing so, you’ll create a culture of intrapreneurship.” Greer Hughes, consulting director, APAC

The Internet has democratised ideas. Anyone with a Twitter account can express an opinion and anyone with a phone can start a movement. Yet many businesses fail to provide platforms for their own employees to share ideas within and for the organisation. We aren’t talking about anonymous surveys or small-scale “task forces”, but rather a change at the organisational level where everyone feels empowered to share and think big about the business.

In a similar spirit, companies that provide opportunities for education empower their employees to stretch beyond their day-to-day. For example, Accenture spent $941 million on a hyper-personalised education programme including boot camps, virtual training and digital learning boards. “In the areas of learning, we completely democratise it,” says Ellyn Shook, CHRO of Accenture. “People can access the learning they want. They have access to everything real-time, on demand, curated by world-class experts.”

Create flexible working environments

“Create flexible space for creativity and focus, remember that there is a need for both sides of a job.” – Chloe Jerrard, consultant, EMEA

People are moving away from a nine-to-five workplace, which is a really positive move for employers’ and employees’ productivity. Not only does it enable greater levels of productivity, but it also speaks to an underlying feeling of trust and commitment. People don’t need to be at their desks to think about work and, in fact, they may do their best thinking outside the confines of an office.

Flexibility also extends to vacation. Many millennials are mixing business with pleasure travel. Other companies are empowering this movement with unlimited vacation days.

Top tips

  1. Provide a flexible work environment. Consider remote working programmes, global exchanges and purpose-based sabbaticals.
  2. Create a strong brand purpose that employees feel passionate about.
  3. Develop a culture of learning to attract top talent that’s motivated by the opportunity for development.

What these 3 parts aim to convey
Today, the pace of change seems to be changing. Every day, new technologies promise to open new possibilities. Previously local cultures enter the global economy, and previously unknown “mom and pop” shops enter and disrupt established industries. And while some might look at this change with uncertainty and fear, there are companies that see the future as one of possibility. How will you evolve your brand? Who will you become? What will take your company from today to tomorrow?

Today, you must look around. You must listen to the consumer – not only what they buy or where they shop, but what they feel. You need to look at other industries to spot innovation early, and look at your own brand DNA to find out what makes sense for you.

Some changes are required. Research has identified that AI will move from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” within the next few years to enhance customer service offerings and streamline manufacturing. Other variables are unpredictable, but rather than getting carried away with the unknown, we need to face uncertainty with certainty. But how?

Action steps

If you make a practice of obsessing about the future, of thinking and planning, you have the power to write your own strategy and determine the fate of your business. You may not know every detail now, but you can build agile processes and empowered teams who will carry you into the next decade and beyond.

As the concept of future-proofing your brand has been explored, one thing came to the fore: There are real contradictions in what we as consumers and employees want. We want flexibility, but desire certainty. We crave human connection, but cling to the convenience of technology. We want to be at the cutting edge, but we are wired to resist change.

Perhaps this is why there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Companies need to look at their DNA, their customers, and develop strategies that will stand the test of time. One thing is certain, if you aren’t looking ahead, you could be passed by.

Acknowledgement and thanks go to WGSN Mindset for the information contained in this article.

For the complete copy, contact WGSN Mindset or visit www.wgsn.com.

To read the previous two parts as they appeared in Walls & Roofs magazine, visit our website at www.buildinganddecor.co.za.

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