As we look ahead to 2020, we continue to see the impact that workplace culture is having on financial performance. We see it in the business results of the Fortune 100 Best and regularly hear about it from Great Place to Work-Certified companies.
Focusing on organizational culture is a proven strategy that works for any company. But developing a competitive company culture entails looking inward at your mission and looking outward at trends shaping your broader community.
To help you understand how trends may shape people programs moving forward, we wanted to share workplace trends to watch for in 2020.
Political beliefs in the workplace
It's hard to recall a time in recent history when Americans have been so divided. Regardless of your ideals, it's hard to bring your whole self to work in today's political environment without worrying about being ostracized or starting a contentious conversation with a coworker.
Business leaders also need to contemplate whether it is safe to voice strong political opinions. When employees hear their leaders take a political stance that challenges their own, it can be isolating.
To quell the tension often felt when politics comes up, some companies are inviting open conversations with roundtable meetings. Accenture, for example, has a program called Building Bridges.
These are town hall-like discussions through which the company facilitates open, brave conversations about diversity and faith-based issues to facilitate challenging discussions within the current socio-political environment. Programs like these provide safe environments for employees to discuss today's most pressing issues and topics.
They allow employees to bring their whole selves to work, which we know is critical for companies that want to have a For All™ culture. In other words, a consistently high-trust workplace experience for everyone, no matter who they are, or what they do for the organization.
Recession-proofing company culture
While it's hard to go through a recession unscathed, our data shows that a healthy organizational culture can help companies weather the storm. As fears of a recession loom, there is hope for companies that focus on diversity and inclusion.
We found the experience of certain groups of employees—including historically disadvantaged groups—predicts whether organizations flatline, survive, or thrive during a recession.
While the S&P 500 suffered a 35.5% decline in stock performance from 2007-2009, companies whose key employee groups had very positive experiences posted a remarkable 14.4% gain. And, those gains continued well past the recession as other competitors tried to catch up.
The signaling groups of employees are women, people of color, frontline workers, hourly male workers and long-tenured employees. Why do these groups act as bellwethers for an organization?
For one thing, historically marginalized groups are often first to feel the effects of a business running into trouble—whether those impacts are wage cuts or the threat of layoffs.
The employees we found to be critical populations play vital roles in business in good times and bad. They often serve customers directly and are plugged into the reality of how the business is doing. And they are a source of good ideas that many companies overlook—whether those are ideas for cutting costs or generating revenue in new ways.
Businesses need to create positive experiences for those employees in inclusivity, innovation, fairness, and integrity. In effect, inclusive culture in critical areas enabled organizations to soar over the recession chasm—the deep decline most companies experienced during the recession.
Read part two of our 2020 HR trends here and get the full analysis of innovation and diversity in the workplace here. For more advice on the latest trends, like political views in the workplace, sign up for our newsletter today.