Top 5 Takeaways from Ben Page, CEO Of Ipsos (And Visiting Professor at Kings College London) 

Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos, delivered the keynote at Engage For Success’ recent – and massively attended – virtual event, designed to explore the fourth enabler, namely organisational integrity. In Plain English, that’s where the values on the wall are reflected in day-to-day behaviours; where there’s no ‘say – do’ gap.

Ben took us on a whistlestop tour of what it takes to be a responsible employer in our fast-changing world, highlighting:

  • Accelerated trends – such as brand and company values, sustainability;
  • New features of the post-pandemic world – the war for talent, staff burnout and the cost of living;
  • Perennial features of human life – being appreciated and the importance of organisational culture.

Here, we provide a handy ‘top 5 things’ style guide – looking across all the three aspects listed above – as a reminder for everyone who attended and a summary for those who couldn’t make it.

people increasingly want to buy brands that reflect their personal values.

Brand values and sustainability have been rising in importance for some time; particularly in the UK, US and France, according to Ipsos data.

Ben added that this is mirrored in how business leaders see themselves. Ipsos interviewed British captains of industry last year, asking them for the most important factors they take into account when making a judgement about organisations.

The results, which compared responses to this question in 2018, 2020 and 2021, reveal sharp increases in the following factors: business values / ethics / honesty; sustainability; and social responsibility. The latter two aspects have more than doubled in importance in the space of three years.

At the same time, ‘financial strength / performance’ has remained relatively stable, even decreasing a couple of percentage points over the same timeframe.

While we appreciate the flexibility of new ways of work, work life balance is taking a hit.

While remote working has helped some people to find work life balance, not everyone enjoys it and work-life balance, for some, is paying the price.

Two thirds (67%) of working age adults carry out some kind of work-related actions – from checking emails to responding to messages – outside of their office working hours in a typical week.

According to Ben, we’re likely to see increasing support for the implementation of ‘the right to disconnect’, as implemented already by several countries, primarily in Europe. This represents a legal right for employees to ignore work-related communication such as emails and texts, outside of their contracted working hours.

Ben highlighted burnout as a new feature of the post-pandemic age. Ipsos research, carried out earlier this year, found that over a third (38%) of working age adults agreed with the statement: “in the past six months, I’ve felt under constant strain at work”; this increased to nearly half (47%) among 16- to 24- year-old respondents.

line managers are a key factor in determining whether hybrid working will work.

While we’re seeing more and more companies offering so-called ‘mental health days’ or ‘wellbeing days’, it won’t amount to much if line managers are no good.

‘Manager behaviours’ still represents the top reason why people leave a job; pay and benefits in second place. This has been the case for what seems like time immemorial. Good and supportive management behaviour rests on communication, yet there hasn’t been much change in getting communication right, adds Ben.

There is a direct correlation between method of communication and the percentage of employees who feel their leaders do what they say they will. Face-to-face (group chats / site visits) trumps one-way and/or virtual hands down (email / town halls / video / team calls / social media), yet it’s still the least used method.

Building in face-to-face opportunities, whether home, hybrid or on-site working, is still key to trust and integrity, says Ben. He adds that the best managers are those who take time for communication: sharing timely information; giving – and inviting – regular feedback; celebrating successes; involving people in decisions that affect them.

people are more likely to look for a job elsewhere than ask for a pay rise.

Ben suggests the ‘Great Resignation’ might be overplayed, claiming that staff churn has risen but not to unprecedented levels. While he adds that the war for talent is real and recruiting is far costlier than retaining, people are currently more concerned about inflation than they are about unemployment.

When consumers were recently asked by Ipsos what actions they would take if they could no longer afford their normal lifestyle, cutting discretionary spend and luxuries featured more highly than using less heating, electricity or water, or spending less on fuel.

Interestingly, ‘seek higher-paid work from another employer’ features higher up the list of potential actions than ‘ask for a pay rise from my employer’.

Lots of food for thought here when it comes to the importance of organisational integrity to retention.

culture will need to be built in a hybrid setting.

While getting culture right is one of the basics for employers, it’s also something that will need to be built differently in a hybrid setting, says Ben.

Building trust as a responsible employer post-Covid will be vital. As part of this, demand for attention and transparency will only rise.

While organisations have done lots of work over the years to look after the physical safety of employees, they need to look beyond this in a post-Covid world. The need to pay attention to all facets of people’s lives is only going to rise, adds Ben. For example, financial wellbeing is no longer just about saving for retirement, employers need to provide financial education around things like how to use credit cards, loans, how to save etc. Ben sees the role of Chief Wellness Officer, separate to a HR responsibility, becoming increasingly important.

Attention and transparency also extend to the need to build management competency – with regards to authenticity and transformative style – to create the conditions for psychological safety, so that people feel respected, looked after and empowered to have a voice in decisions.

Author: Suzanne Clarkson – Managing Director, Coach House Communications Ltd

Photo credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

And here’s what we learnt from Chris Pitt, CEO of First Direct, during our chat with him at the event.

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