Trains spilling over with bodies, streets bustling again, sandwich shops doing a roaring trade – it’s the sort of sight that might raise an ironic cry of “nature is healing!”. But for many, it really does feel like things are going back to normal after a long, alarming pandemic.
That’s great. But the (depressing) question still remains: for how long?
After a challenging few years, it’s not surprising that people cling to optimism. But the unfortunate reality is that the pandemic was not necessarily a once-in-a-blue-moon event – both in terms of global health events, and market disruption more generally…
In the same way you wouldn’t expect another world war, and could anticipate the pandemic becoming one of those time-defining ‘one-offs’, it’s understandable to want to write the past few years off. But the troubling reality is far more bleak.
Data suggests that similar public health crises are becoming increasingly likely, expected to rise by three times in the coming decades. But not only are these outbreaks going to keep happening, some researchers suggest that the health risk could be far higher.
The word ‘change’ has been swapped for ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’, giving the rightful urgency to arguably the world’s biggest problem. The global temperature increases are causing natural disasters of all types – from wildfires and droughts to flooding and tropical storms.
This is an ‘everyone’ problem, but one that businesses are falling behind on. Research found only minimal, short-term actions being taken by companies – despite pressure from stakeholders, and the risk to financial stability including whether their offering will stay viable.
Though less obviously disruptive, the world’s shifting population poses significant challenges to businesses. Longer lifespans mean the workforce and their needs will keep changing, for one. With that comes the different demands employees and customers have – for socially, ecologically, and economically responsible organisations.
Expectations about working habits can also be disruptive. Since the introduction of the weekend in the early 19th century, such a shift has yet to be – but remote working, flexible hours, and four-day-week schemes are reframing work in everyone’s mind. With automation and AI, the possibility for dramatic change is real.
Those are just the external challenges you’ll have to face in the coming years. Combined with the usual disruption the average business undergoes, the meaning of BAU might become more and more obscure. So how can you persevere?
Business resilience is the key. When your business is resilient, it’s able to respond and react – while still providing its product or services, and engaging its workforce. And it’s linked to three main benefits, as described in the Harvard Business Review:
Organisational resilience means being able to both react to both sudden and gradual change and anticipate those events before they happen. Being strong enough to cope when a crisis hits is one thing, adapting to respond to it is another. Similarly, being able to see change coming is as crucial as responding quickly when it does.
There are a number of technical and financial considerations, when it comes to becoming a resilient organisation, but your people are at the heart of it all. Here’s three things to consider with that in mind:
You might be asking ‘what is organisational fitness?’ It’s about understanding your people through-and-through, and assessing how resilient they are in the face of change. It asks your employees about 16 key areas – from ‘leadership’ to ‘inclusion’ – to get a 360 degree view of your organisation’s general capacity to respond, react, and cope with change.
We’ve also proven that if you have a high ‘org fit’ score, you’re:
Understanding how you score today means identifying ways to improve – and that means you’ll be able to face whatever comes your way.