By Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Innovates (www.epinnovates.com)
I talk a lot about change. Change is a small word but one with huge potential, yet this small word is traditionally met with a great deal of negativity or at least a certain level of cynicism especially when linked to wider businesses issues such a growing decline in productivity, lack of trust in leadership, demise of workplace culture, increase in mental health problems and skills shortages to name a few. These are arguably big issues in business today – some might say, huge. However the simple fact that they are big issues doesn’t mean that that are too big to change or to resolve.
Interestingly, when we talk about some of these wider issues that are impacting the success of many businesses today, there is an underlying consensus from many that this stuff is all great for discussion and for bringing topics to the fore, but much of the discussion is seldom taken on board in an active way, a way that will indeed make all the difference. Frankly, it’s easy to debate where we’ve gone wrong, it’s another story to take steps to correct this.
Behaviours must change
Is it really likely that change can be achieved? It’s a fair question, for instance something like addressing the demise of workplace culture might seem on first glance like an issue that has progressed too far and has become too big to handle or too big to tackle in the short term, but this issue and many more like it often stem from specific behaviours. These human behaviours can be changed and it doesn’t have to mean a dramatic upheaval either. The core issues linking productivity, leadership and culture have all been created through a steady decline in trust in businesses generally and in leadership and institutions.
How can we turn a big issue into something that can be resolved over time by making just a small change to the way we do things? We could start by focusing on something pretty straightforward – a return to a more personalised approach to relationships across both customers and employees. Business has become very transactional over the years and advances in technology haven’t helped matters. Therefore, if we are serious about running profitable businesses we have to look at improving workplace culture and building greater trust in businesses and leaders again – this means we have to start with the one ingredient that is the make or break of a business – people. People are the heart and soul of a business and the key differentiator in the modern digital age today. Demonstrating greater care, recognition and genuine courtesy to others over a prolonged period, will help to rebuild loyalty and in turn, higher standards of trust and integrity for businesses.
Talk is cheap
Some say this is too big an issue to deal with, so unlikely to be achieved. It’s human nature to avoid the bigger stuff, it’s easier to deal with the smaller things, yet many businesses are happy to talk the talk when it comes to improving core business issues in society today – I wonder how many will actually walk the walk?
Technology should not be leading businesses, people should. If we can start to understand that trust and relationships come first in business we can build on those foundation stones. Profit is of course fundamental but so is sustainability in business for the long term and this only comes from trust, loyalty and culture. If we agree (as many of us do), that anyone can change their behaviour given the right support and objectives (for the right reasons) then big issues like these can absolutely be solved, we just need the desire to make it happen.
As we continue to hear about the growing numbers of people suffering with mental health problems, it stands to reason that every company out there has a wider responsibility today and changes to attitudes and behaviours can make all the difference going forward. That means accepting the importance of having fun at work, allowing people to take risks, make mistakes, be challenged and empowered too. As an employer it’s also about allowing people to be held accountable, ensuring they are enjoying interests outside of work and are taking time to refresh and recharge with family and friends. Ultimately it’s about demonstrating care and empathy to both clients and the workforce in an open and visible way.
Building blocks for the future
These are simple facts of life, no rocket science involved and no need for a great upheaval in terms of making changes. We have to start somewhere, things cannot continue as they are. Surely it’s time to stand up and make changes, no matter how small? These are the building blocks of the businesses of the future and the irony is, we can learn a lot from past eras in business, back when companies invested in their people not just financially, but personally too.
About EPinnovates (www.epinnovates.com)
A shop window for entrepreneurial innovation, EPinnovates has been created to showcase exciting innovations, new products, services, concepts and businesses forlarger companies to discover and explore. Designed to recognise and support the innovation that entrepreneurs and smaller businesses bring to the future economy, EPinnovates tells stories about entrepreneurs; each has a different tale, adventure and overcomes diverse obstacles, but all are looking to improve business and create value. Accessing these ideas and innovations can be difficult forbusinesses to truly discover so EPinnovates acts to bridge that gap and help to engineer the future for the better byintroducinglarger companies to entrepreneurs through the principles of trust, community and relationships.