By Jeff Puritt
In this time of economic upheaval, business and political leaders are grappling with seemingly binary choices. Protect the environment or the economy? Look after people or the bottom line? Give back or cut back?
Fortunately, these are false dichotomies, in my view—doing good really is good for business, good for the economy, good for humanity, and good for the planet. Emerging research continues to validate the thesis. And it has certainly been my experience as CEO over the past 15 years that in any economic climate, it’s always a sure bet for companies to invest in their people, technology, and communities.
Invest in Your People
The world’s workers are predominantly unhappy. That’s the main takeaway from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report; 60% of surveyed employees are detached at work, and 19% describe their experience as “miserable.” Yet with all niceties aside and resources scarce during an economic turndown, is it really in a company’s interest to prioritize investment in employee engagement?
Absolutely. Employee experience has a striking impact on companies’ bottom lines. One recent study, based on three years of detailed employee and financial data from a global retail brand’s 1,000+ brick-and-mortar stores, found that if the average store could improve its employee engagement metrics from the bottom quartile to the top quartile, the organization would increase its revenue by more than 50% and its profits by nearly as much. Gallup’s recent report shares similar findings; business units with engaged employees have 23% higher profit than do those with employees who identify as miserable at work.
The business value of high employee engagement metrics became clear to me yet again during our recent acquisition of WillowTree, a premier full-service digital product provider. Having invested in its own people-centric and caring culture, the WillowTree leadership team undertook significant due diligence to find a natural fit, carefully reviewing potential buyers’ employee attrition and engagement metrics to see if the walk matched the talk. To quote Tobias Dengel, the founder and president of WillowTree, a TELUS International Company, “Employees vote with their feet.”
Invest in Your Digital Experience
IT infrastructure, digital tools, and solutions for employees and stronger digital customer experience are always in demand, no matter the economic climate—and they are fast becoming key areas of competition. The top three priorities for senior industry leaders over the next 12 to 24 months will be retaining and developing the best people while driving a simplified customer experience, reducing call volumes and costs, and building their digital care and advanced analytics ecosystems, according to a 2022 McKinsey survey.
Technology that enables, engages, and supports both your team members and your customers is a particularly great use of your resources. Investing in tech—such as chatbots, digital coworkers, collaboration platforms, and communications tools—that makes employees’ work easier and faster is a smart move to drive efficiency and engagement.
Invest in Your Communities
Providing communities with meaningful economic opportunities improves the quality of life where your employees live, work, and raise their families. This is both the right thing to do and a fantastic way to make sure your business has ongoing access to an educated, qualified, and diverse talent pool. Nothing would make me happier than to see our employees’ children and grandchildren become future team members.
Investing in doing good also helps companies win business. Over the past year, I’ve seen a steep increase in requests for proposals from customer prospects that include rigorous questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs. And this interest asks for more than a simple “yes” or “no” response—prospects expect specific details about our DEI and ESG goals and the metrics we track.
I’ve seen the business value of these investments firsthand at TELUS International. One global leader in tech real estate recently let us know that our commitment to culture and diversity was a major factor in its initial decision to do business with us—and then to expand our partnership portfolio of support within the first year. Similar feedback came from a global tech giant that told us we differentiated ourselves from its other partners by the thoughtful and direct ways we give where we live, at events such as TELUS Days of Giving, which focus on strengthening social infrastructure and environmental stewardship around the globe.
Whether your organization is poised to thrive, highly constrained, or in a fight to survive, investments in your people, technology, and communities are measurably beneficial to the bottom line. Based on my experience, these are always good investments. Doing the right thing is the right way to inoculate your business against exogenous events, while positioning your brand for sustainable growth in even the most trying of times.
Learn how TELUS International can help transform your organization and inspire your team to deliver best-in-class customer experiences.
Jeff Puritt is president and CEO of TELUS International, a global digital customer experience provider.
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