In today’s world of persistent volatility, many organizations have risen despite the chaos of climate change, pandemics, geopolitical shifts, and social division. While some organizations have weathered these storms, others have suffered enormous disruption from failing to prepare for impact. There is no doubt that we will continue to see and experience global shocks, and it has become clear that there is a gap between organizations’ perceived readiness and their actual ability to react.
Recognizing the importance of organizational resiliency is a step but developing and implementing a strategy is the real key to position an organization for success. To achieve a stronger, more unified future, we must prepare for three key challenges that pose risk to organizations’ resiliency and examine how organizations can quickly adapt to unforeseen circumstances:
1. Achieving unity amidst rapid digital transformation
Processes for hiring, training and retaining staff are changing as the majority of the employees expect hybrid working styles. Employees also increasingly consider flexible environments, workplace culture and their own health and well-being as deciding factors to stay with or leave a company. Company adaptation to match employee sentiment is now critical to success — and to maintain resiliency, organizations must enable hybrid working styles that help foster unity and collaboration.
To implement change, organizations must revisit the drawing board. This shift requires rethinking how to accommodate different kinds of work, workers, and technology across an organization. As a result, more than half of organizations have invested in flexible workspaces that account for hybrid workforce needs. In this case, both employers and employees benefit: organizations that offer more flexibility around when, where and how much employees work consider a significantly higher percentage of their employees as “high performers.” Therefore, investing in flexible workspaces is a necessity in fostering and maintaining an adaptable and efficient workplace.
2. Protecting data amidst rising cyber threats
We’re seeing rising cyber threats due to the transfer and storage of data, both proprietary to the organization and the confidential details of clients, customers, and citizens. Since the onset of the pandemic, the world has seen an 81% surge in cyberattacks. What’s more, attackers are constantly increasing the sophistication of their attacks leaving organizations vulnerable to catastrophic data breaches and heightening the need for enterprises to increase their data protection and security strategies.
Cyberattack protection technologies such as cloud backups, air-gapped storage, extended detection and response (XDR) tools and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are essential in protecting today’s organizations. In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic, 48% of organizations report having increased investment in hybrid work data protection and security applications to ensure organizational resiliency moving forward, leaders must prioritize strengthening their data protection and security strategies.
However, there is still work to be done, as 14% of companies still need to centralize their technology function with full visibility of all information systems, and 12% need to develop a disaster recovery or business continuity plan for their digital systems. At first, investing in cybersecurity may feel like a costly move. However, the alternative of dealing with a reputational crisis in the event of data leakage is considerably more labor-intensive and expensive. Leaders who implement proactive data security measures will set themselves up for organizational resilience in the future.
3. Prioritizing ESG amidst heightened social and environmental concerns
Inclusion initiatives, social justice efforts, and climate pledges have risen sharply up the agenda in recent decades, and organizations must ensure that ESG is threaded into every message and action that it puts forth. Companies cannot expect that publishing vague mission statements is enough; they must prove their efforts by making and enacting strong and voluntary environmental and social commitments.
Driving a culture of ESG requires accountability through metrics that make a clear connection to business strategy and action. During the pandemic, research shows 41% of organizations implemented dedicated staff and resources to support ESG initiatives, 42% adopted ESG considerations in their supply chain management function, and 41% adopted new technologies to help with tracking and reporting on ESG progress. Software platforms are emerging that can collect data and conduct ESG gap analysis and benchmarking. Additionally, AI, edge computing, IoT and advanced networks now play a role in environmental measurements and improvements, especially in tracking net-zero achievements.
While many organizations have accelerated their ESG initiatives, many fail to recognize the importance of ESG reporting. The need for meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria is more widespread than many business leaders realize: In 2020, 85% of investors considered ESG factors in their investments in 2020, demonstrating the critical role that ESG plays in modern business’ financial resiliency.
The global disruptions of the past few years have fast-tracked the urgency for organizations to evaluate their preparedness for external threats. The truth is adoption of best practices in organizational resilience remains rare or lacking. Few have centralized coordination of their resilience efforts, few have embedded them at a sufficiently senior level in the organizational structure, and few have allocated sufficient budget and personnel to close the gap. Organizations must consider their preparedness and strategies in response to rapid digital transformation, rising cyber threat and heighted ESG issues to build a more resilient future.