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The greatest organisational challenges of 2024

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Published: June 10, 2024
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Holly Higham is Global Head of Marketing at Impact.  

What happens when more than 160 senior leaders from the world’s biggest brands gather in New York’s Empire State Building, London’s Tate Modern, and Singapore’s Gucco Center to explore the future of work? We found out!

Tomorrow's Workplace

Impact's ‘The Leading Edge’ open event series investigated what’s shaping tomorrow’s workplace and what leaders can do to ensure our organizations thrive through unprecedented change. Each event included a pulse check on the biggest organizational challenges being faced today.

The top-ranking responses for almost half of attendees were:

  • Change management – Attendees in all regions talked about struggles in being agile and shifting behaviors to enable organizational change (21%).
  • Resource constraints – A feeling of needing to do more with less (9%).
  • Digital transformation – How to embrace Gen AI and tech transformation (8%).

Other challenges included work optimization and ways of working (7%), fast growth (7%), talent attraction, utilization, and retention (7%), skills gaps (6%), employee engagement (6%), economic environment, organizational culture, burnout, innovation, generational differences, and purpose.

Interestingly, there were slight variations around the world. In New York, change was closely followed by resource constraints; in London, it was followed by high-speed growth challenges; and in Singapore, ways of working.

Global Themes from World-Leading Organizations

Facilitated panel discussions delved deeper into key issues that are keeping senior leaders awake at night. Panelists from Johnson & Johnson, Shutterstock, and Danone in New York; Timpson’s Direct, Reckitt, and Avon in London; and IBM, Amcor, Mastercard, Education in Motion, and KPMG in Singapore explored the world’s greatest organizational challenges and shared practical approaches for tackling them, with four key themes emerging:

Adapting in the Face of Change:

  • Organizations are undergoing significant transformations, restructures, mergers, and change. They face challenges related to team restructuring, skill building, and working smarter. Creating environments where innovation and collaboration are welcome is crucial.
  • Making business strategies meaningful to a large employee base and aligning them with individual purposes is a significant challenge.
  • Clear communication and creating psychological safety are essential for navigating tough economic times and ensuring profitability.
  • The key skills needed are adaptability, communication, and simplifying ways of working.

Making Culture-Building Deliberate:

  • The transition to hybrid work models and the integration of Gen Z and millennial employees present a cultural shift. Organizations must create compelling workplaces that cater to the new workforce’s needs and preferences.
  • Mandating office working can have negative effects on attraction, recruitment, and retention. Offices now need to provide persuasive advantages to working from home.
  • Those organizations that foster an inclusive environment, recognizing the need for various perspectives and experiences, gain the performance benefits of diversity.

Leadership and Employee Wellbeing:

  • Addressing change fatigue and burnout is crucial in a constantly transforming world. Strategies for talent attraction and retention, such as flexible working arrangements and career development opportunities, are key.
  • Leadership must foster environments of safety and compassion with a focus on maintaining wellbeing to improve performance and productivity. Creating environments of psychological safety are necessary when tough conversations about performance are needed.

Digital Transformation and AI Impact:

  • With the advent of AI, there’s an anticipation of significant changes across all sectors. Organizations must remain agile and open to experimentation, understanding that the majority of trials will fail.
  • Core leadership skills needed for the fast pace of technological shifts include managing change, encouraging innovation, promoting diversity, and leading with compassion.

What Does All of This Change Mean for Leadership?

The prevalent theme of the Leading Edge panel debates and participant polling is becoming more efficient, for various reasons and contexts: Our workforces of the future need to work smarter, not harder. And the hottest topic is resoundingly organizational change.

Many consultancies' change management approaches focus on lean optimization and stripping out creativity and diversity to create economies of scale. Impact's perspective on change is that organizations can only change if people change. By leveraging individuality and diversity, organizations can improve efficiency and productivity through collaboration. Forming deeper and more meaningful relationships and building teams with psychological safety paves the way to leverage individual talents and utilize untapped skills. To answer all of the workplace challenges of tomorrow, our organizations need to become more human-centric today.

What happens when more than 160 senior leaders from the world’s biggest brands gather in New York’s Empire State building, London’s Tate Modern, and Singapore’s Gucco Center, to explore the future of work? We found out!

Tomorrow's workplace

Impact's ‘The Leading Edge’ open event series investigated what’s shaping tomorrow’s workplace and what leaders can do to ensure our organisations thrive through unprecedented change. Each event included a pulse check on the biggest organisational challenges being faced today.  

The top ranking responses for almost half of attendees were:

  1. Change management – attendees in all regions talked about struggles in being agile and shifting behaviours to enable organisational change (21%). 
  1. Resource constraints – a feeling of needing to do more with less (9%). 
  1. Digital transformation – how to embrace Gen AI and tech transformation (8%).

Other challenges included work optimisation and ways of working (7%), fast growth (7%), talent attraction, utilisation and retention (7%), skills gaps (6%), employee engagement (6%), economic environment, organisational culture, burnout, innovation, generational differences, and purpose.  

Interestingly there were slight variations around the world. In New York change was closely followed by resource constraints; in London it was followed by high-speed growth challenges; and in Singapore, ways of working.

Global themes from world leading organisations

Facilitated panel discussions delved deeper still into key issues that are keeping senior leaders awake at night. Panellists from Johnson & Johnson, Shutterstock, and Danone in New York; Timpson’s Direct, Reckitt, and Avon in London; and IBM, Amcor, Mastercard, Education in Motion, and KPMG in Singapore, explored the world’s greatest organisational challenges and shared practical approaches for tackling them, with four key themes emerging:

1.Adapting in the face of change

  • Organisations are undergoing significant transformations, restructures, mergers and change. They face challenges related to team restructuring, skill building, and working smarter. Creating environments where innovation and collaboration are welcome is crucial. 
  • Making business strategies meaningful to a large employee base and aligning them with individual purposes is a significant challenge. 
  • Clear communication and creating psychological safety are essential for navigating tough economic times and ensuring profitability. 
  • The key skills needed are adaptability, communication and simplifying ways of working. 

2. Making culture-building deliberate

  • The transition to hybrid work models and the integration of Gen Z and millennial employees present a cultural shift. Organisations must create compelling workplaces that cater to the new workforce’s needs and preferences. 
  • Mandating office working can have negative effects on attraction, recruitment and retention. Offices now need to provide persuasive advantages to working from home.
  • Those organisations that foster an inclusive environment, recognising the need for various perspectives and experiences, gain the performance benefits of diversity. 

3. Leadership and employee wellbeing

  • Addressing change fatigue and burnout is crucial in a constantly transforming world. Strategies for talent attraction and retention, such as flexible working arrangements and career development opportunities are key.
  • Leadership must foster environments of safety and compassion with a focus on maintaining wellbeing to improve performance and productivity. Creating environments of psychological safety are necessary when tough conversations about performance are needed. 

4. Digital transformation and AI impact

  • With the advent of AI, there’s an anticipation of significant changes across all sectors. Organisations must remain agile and open to experimentation, understanding that the majority of trials will fail. 
  • Core leadership skills needed for the fast pace of technological shifts include managing change, encouraging innovation, promoting diversity and leading with compassion.

What does all of this change mean for leadership? 

The prevalent theme of the Leading Edge panel debates and participant polling is becoming more efficient, for various reasons and contexts: Our workforces of the future need to work smarter, not harder. And the hottest topic is resoundingly organisational change. 

Many consultancies change management approaches focus on lean optimisation and stripping out creativity and diversity to create economies of scale. Impact's perspective on change is that organisations can only change if people change. By leveraging individuality and diversity, organisations can improve efficiency and productivity through collaboration. Forming deeper and more meaningful relationships and building teams with psychological safety paves the way to leverage individual talents and utilising untapped skills. To answer all of the workplace challenges of tomorrow, our organisations need to become more human-centric today.  

Join our next event

The Leading Edge event is coming to Zurich on 26 June. Register your interest below:

Join the Leading Edge event in Zurich