The nature of work is rapidly changing. As more companies embrace the ‘new normal,’ the shift from traditional office paradigms to remote working models is swiftly taking shape around the globe. While this fast-emerging trend has been on the horizon for some time, the movement has reached critical mass in the last 12 months, accelerating the need for leaders who understand how best to navigate this new digital workforce.
These changes will have huge implications for both employees and employers. Success will depend upon a business’ capacity to scale quickly, as well as its ability to maintain a solid company culture. The latter is especially vital within a remote workforce when team members can no longer rely on face-to-face interactions to build up rapport and trust.
But the reality of the digital age is also a shift in power, away from the employer and toward the employee. Without the confines of a physical office, a business’ talent pool has suddenly become vast. And while it might appear that companies suddenly have a greater choice of talent, it’s the most rarefied talent, those that can deliver value far larger than their salary, that are suddenly finding themselves presented with a choice: stay as an employee, or redefine their role as a skilled freelancer or independent contractor.
Suddenly, the very best talent has the upper hand on who they choose to work with, with the option of making sure that the purpose of the company they choose is aligned with their own. Companies are now faced with a pending crisis in attracting and retaining top talent.
People before Profit
Forward-thinking companies see this new talent paradigm as both a necessity and an opportunity to redefine their core values and purpose to attract the very best talent. With Blackstone founder Steve Schwarzman claiming that a leader’s most important trait is a clear view of their firm’s purpose, the movement towards a purpose-driven approach to business is fundamentally a recognition of the value in putting people before profits.
Ironically, the idea is not a new one; in fact, it’s been around for decades. In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras released the book, Built to Last, looking at a group of “visionary” companies throughout the 20th century that put purpose before profit, and in perhaps the greatest of corporate ironies, these purpose-driven companies were able to generate six times higher shareholder profits than their purely profit-driven rivals.
“Visionary companies pursue a cluster of objectives, of which making money is only one—and not necessarily the primary one,” notes Collins in Built to Last.
In today’s market, purpose-driven performance is proving to be more appealing than ever before. The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study found that when consumers believe a brand has a strong purpose, they are four times more likely to purchase from the company, six times more likely to protect the company and over four times more likely to champion and trust the company. Interestingly, the study found that while 94% of consumers say purpose is important, they only believe 37% of companies today have a clear and strong purpose.
With purpose playing such an important role with employees and consumers alike, how can business leaders ensure they’re capturing this vital piece of the puzzle moving forward?
The Oros Effect
Jason English is a South African entrepreneur who understands the importance of building teams and is also known for his unique take on company culture. As the Chief Ecosystem Officer for CG Tech, English has honed his forward-thinking philosophy and approach to management over a double-decade career across all levels of the corporate ladder. In his current role, alongside chairman Niall Carroll and CG Tech’s Board of Directors, English joins a team of owner-operators of their umbrella companies – a conscious decision by the investment holding company to cultivate an environment of complete transparency and cohesion. The structure has a further, fortuitous side-benefit; alignment of purpose.
Creating an environment in which each member of the team understands their purpose is an idea that has intrigued English for some time. In his first book, due out later this year, the 43-year-old explores how a leader can successfully translate what he refers to as their “Oros,” – essentially their ideas, knowledge and beliefs – onto every member of their organisation. Named after a popular South African orange concentrate, the idea for The Oros Effect came to English when he was trying to find a way of distilling his purpose and knowledge into those working around him at speed and scale.
“To me, The Oros Effect allows leaders to decentralise their decision-making processes within their teams. Those that can successfully transfer their vision and knowledge can expect strong company culture and increased productivity to quickly follow,” says English.
It’s a method English has been infusing with one CG Tech subsidiary, The Virtulab. In the last year The Virtulab team, headed by David Cummins, recognised the outside potential for a digital platform they were building to facilitate remote training for Prommac, a CG Tech subsidiary. Identifying the emergent trend and promptly switching gears into a new market strategy, their breakthrough product Virtuworx, a feature-rich virtual reality-based world, was rolled out by the company in record time. English is especially proud of how quickly the team were able to adapt after recognising their role in solving an emerging work-based challenge much larger than their own. Purpose, it would seem, can be a compelling motivator.
“Virtuworx is an incredible example of what can be achieved when your team intrinsically understands what’s needed from them and are able to confidently push forward without much intervention. If your employees feel valued and believe in your leadership, they aren’t afraid to take chances, and they’ll always proceed in the best interest of the company,” explains English.
Today, Virtuworx is being used across a number of different sectors. From creating live events and office spaces to training and learning environments, the possibilities are endless with this customisable, avatar-based platform. The benefits of using it will also appeal to businesses who like the idea of saving time, money and decreasing their carbon footprint, all while increasing productivity.
As the business world prepares for the future, it will be interesting to see how companies and leadership teams are able to adapt to this new way of working. Leaders such as Jason English have been preparing for this transition for some time. Now that the moment is here, their unique visions will be more sought after than ever before. Those that are able to get it right, won’t just be talking about their purpose – they’ll be instilling it.
The collection of business within the CG Tech group allows us to share learnings and ideas with each other, sparking collective investments into research and development of new products and services which would not normally have been created.
The technology arm of the CG Tech group, The Virtulab, has allowed me to grow the reputation of Prommac as a digital business in a traditional industry, and we have been able to transform at a fraction of the cost of outsourcing these services.
As the youngest leader in the group, the collective knowledge of leadership has helped me grow personally by engaging with great business leaders who have been there, done that and have shared their experiences with me.
The CG Tech team has helped us raise capital and fund growth using the know how and experience of the collective group. The spread of skill sets between Accountants, M&A Experts, Operational Specialists, Metallurgy Specialists has helped me shape my business for the future.