Impact: the foundation of trust and talent development

It’s the end of “business as usual”! At the last NextGen Talks breakfast, on the theme “what Millenials really want”, Manuelle Malot, Director of Career Activities at EDHEC Business School and the NewGen Talent Center, clearly states: “the younger generations want to grow and thrive at work”.

Selecting a company for what it is

Marie Guillemot, CEO of KPMG, a leading audit and consulting firm that will recruit at least 2,500 new talents in France this year, doesn’t disagree: “Younger generations are more critical of companies. When I entered the job market, my generation had a professional commitment and sought to align it with their convictions. Millennials start with the convictions they want to defend and to express through their professional career. So we all agree that we want to be aligned, but for them everything comes from their convictions”.

She continues: “Young people join us to have a field of professional fulfillment, to develop their skills. What seems important to me, beyond the expertise that is becoming increasingly obsolete, is to see the growth of professionals, of teams with real compasses, values embodied in their daily work, and actions for the common good. In doing so, they will develop a better ability to listen to others, more humility, and this will be key for tomorrow’s leaders, whether they stay at KPMG or continue their careers outside. It is a great source of pride when we are chosen for who we are and how we interact and work with our clients and stakeholders in general”.

Trust and the right to make mistakes at the heart of concerns

As we enter the late spring of 2022, everyone is reminded of the wave of major U.S. job resignations, but also of resounding European examples such as Capgemini’s 26.2% attrition over the past 12 months. Nearly a third of the professionals surveyed by Korn Ferry in 2021 said they were considering leaving their job, even if they had no other job in mind.

74% of professionals believe this will only increase in 2022 such that 50% of all employees will need to retrain by 2025.

One in seven employees is actively looking to change industries to a more promising one, according to ADP.

Not only has the pandemic accelerated the digital maturity of companies like never before, it has also profoundly questioned the very meaning of work and professional commitment.

Jullien Brezun, Managing Director of Great Place To Work France, confirms that the level of trust in companies analyzed in Europe according to the global labelling methodology has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic. The best companies have reacted well and have set themselves up as a fortress during the COVID period. 

The stars of the Great Place To Work ranking are characterized by:

  • a very high level of ethics, an absolute prerequisite,
  • a very high level of diversity and inclusion on the basis of gender, sex, skin color, ethnicity, age,
  • a commitment to positive, supportive management that facilitates the team’s success,
  • a high value on the right to make mistakes and a high level of initiative in the closest possible way for the client.

Marie Guillemot recounts exactly this experience. “The mobilization of the entire firm in response to covid revealed extraordinary personalities, an incredible commitment to our clients, and a very strong mobilization and solidarity among the teams. It was an immense moment of pride for me, which exceeded all expectations.

We did not ask ourselves whether this was part of the mission or not. We mobilized in the face of necessity.  We spontaneously proposed pro-bono, deciphered all the governmental, European and regional aids in order to put everything in direct access, for all, clients or not. We brought our know-how, our empathy, without any other consideration. What guided us? The strength of the relationship with our customers, the associations we support, the young people we have helped in their jobs. A lot of pride and energy emerged in return. The strength of the relationships has increased tenfold, leading to an unprecedented level of trust, which is the real basis for our growth.

The Great Place To Work assessment, based on extensive research, is founded on the levers that shape the employee experience: credibility, respect, fairness, friendliness and pride. These five elements combine to create a culture of trust.

“In each company we analyze, we take a “blood test” of the organization and highlight the level of trust that employees perceive. We believe that trust is the key factor in explaining the quality of the employee experience. A great company to work for is one where employees are proud of what they do and appreciate their colleagues and their work environment. But the major criterion for evaluating well-being in a company is above all the level of trust and the ability of management to work actively to establish and strengthen trust between everyone,” explains Julien Brezun. The company has everything to gain, as demonstrated by Thibault Perrin, PhD and R&D manager at Great Place To Work France. For several years, he has been studying the competitive advantage of French organizations with the Great Place To Work label and has shown that they have a higher than normal profitability, i.e. financial performance. When trying to understand why, he realized that this was largely due to a culture of trust established in the company.

The pandemic, a catalyst for ESG commitments

As Marie Guillemot experienced at KPMG during the pandemic crisis, “we showed that we had the know-how and the mobilization to bring the best of what we are, and to tackle the ecological and societal transformation. Personally, I saw it as both the commitment of a professional and the crystallization of my desire to steer my professional life and align it with my personal convictions. This natural commitment was at the heart of the project I wanted to carry out, centered on the creation of responsible value, and which quite naturally became a shared vision”.

France seems to be ahead of the game in terms of awareness and the establishment of statutes such as the company with a mission. According to Julien Brezun, “we are capable of becoming a model in these areas of extended corporate responsibility.

Moreover, Humacap, the new label measuring the perception of the sincerity of a company’s CSR commitment, which we just launched in May, does not come from the USA.” Where Great Place To Work highlights companies that seek to do good for the employee, Humacap characterizes companies that seek to do good.

Moving to the scale of impact rather than communication at scale

The transition to the status of a company with a mission, a first for a “big four” audit and consulting firm, reinforces our exposure, “but I would like these commitments to be explicit, irreversible, and to be concrete in terms of proof and action,” says Marie Guillemot. “This is not new because it is part of the identity of the firm and of our teams, and we share this commitment to our clients and the associations we wish to serve. The objective is now to scale up”.

This move to a larger scale has already been implemented through the foundation “which has enabled us to mobilize a thousand volunteer employees against all odds, because it is to be carried out in addition to the rest, but by integrating it into our role and our professional careers. There is no contradiction.” This is also achieved via the extraordinary mobilization of 7,000 talents spread across France to dedicate an afternoon alongside associations that work in favor of the environment.

The KPMG CEO Outlook 2021 study shows that for 9 out of 10 executives, ESG will be key to building trust with stakeholders. 7 out of 10 say it is the foundation for building trust. Finally, 6 out of 10 do not know where to start. Just as in the case of data, which some companies have in abundance, “we have to be able to turn their intentions into reality”, says Marie Guillemot. “Even if they don’t ask us, we have to proactively question our stakeholders”.

Towards new statutes for "doing enterprises"

According to Frédéric Laloux’s typology of organization evolution presented in “Reinventing organizations”, the ultimate stage of development, called “teal”, is characterized by very high levels of trust, integrity and freedom to adapt. In this context, competitors and opposing ideas are seen as allies.

Furthermore, according to the Aneo Holaspirit New Generation Enterprise barometer on recruitment and retention of talent, 2022 should mark the acceleration of platforms and marketplaces allowing optimal fluidity in the meeting of supply and demand. More than 50% of executives worldwide identify joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic alliances as key growth strategies. Finally, as proof of the sustainable emergence of small expert structures, 40% of international executives are planning an alliance strategy with innovative start-ups.

Marie Guillemot confirms that “we are all employees, with a few freelancers on the side. In the future, we are thinking about other modes of collaboration and status, employees or not, full-time or part-time on a mission, a type of client, etc. We are working more and more through alliances because our vocation is not to develop all the expertise or technologies, but rather to play our role as a catalyst for the positive transformation of society to accompany our clients on the path to sustainable growth”. The intensification of joint approaches with strategy firms or technology companies has resulted in excellent feedback from major clients. This ability to collaborate and not systematically reject those who might at times be competitors characterizes the most mature organizations. 

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash