Business Leaders Struggling to Balance Demands of Employees, Customers and Citizens – Almost Half Doubt They Can Have a Major Impact on Society
- Global study commissioned by Fujitsu explores organizations’ relationship with their employees, customers and society, how vital each group is to achieving success and what role culture, creativity and digital technology play in the overall picture.
- Business leaders feel most responsible for employees (60 percent), followed by customers (55 percent), with the wider society (37 percent) as the third priority.
- While exploring the challenge of balancing all three groups, 60 percent of the 1,936 C-Suite decision makers surveyed admitted concerns about their ability to meet the expectations of each group.
- The ability to make a positive influence on society is of particular concern – 74 percent agree they must make a good impact on society to succeed but almost half (47 percent) do not believe their organization can do so.
Reflecting the struggle to balance all three groups and understand the connection between them, two-thirds (66 percent) of leaders believe that employees have an increasing influence on their business and 73 percent say unlocking employee creativity is vital for growth. However, 74 percent also feel that making a positive impact on society will be the key to their organizations succeeding in the future. And 80 percent state that the organization must always put the customer first in order to be successful. This tension is further highlighted when looking at the factors leaders believe will define their success, most (54 percent) cited “achieving financial growth” as most important, while the need to have a good reputation (45 percent) and innovate new products and services (35 percent) are likewise deemed vital. The majority of business leaders also recognize the need to be able to rapidly respond and adapt, with 80% saying that business agility will be critical for future success.
Duncan Tait, SEVP and Head of Americas and EMEIA at Fujitsu, said: “Long-lasting success relies on the ability to delight customers while unlocking the full potential of your workforce and ensuring a positive societal impact. Influencing society shouldn’t be seen separately. The three groups are intrinsically connected with organizations able to influence the wider world through the employees and customers they liase with. They are citizens and having a positive influence on their lives goes a long way to achieving positive social impact. People are attracted – as potential employees and customers – to organizations which have a clear social vision, particularly if they are already making a positive social impact. Yet throughout the study, there is nervousness about whether organizations are taking the right approach to each group. All three have huge influence on the future success of an organization and it’s understandable that world business leaders find it challenging to manage this.”
The importance of making a positive impact on society comes through strongly in the study, with 78 percent of leaders saying it’s important to their organization that they are trusted. But coming through even more clearly are the challenges organizations face in achieving this. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents believe that society has become more critical of the business community over the last three years, while 71 percent admit their organization could be doing more to positively contribute to the lives of citizens. However, highlighting that leaders struggle to see the connection between influencing employees and customers in order to change society, almost half (47 percent) of respondents state that they do not believe that their organization can make a big social impact. With an eye on the challenge ahead, 63 percent of leaders know that, to be successful in the future, they need to change their organization’s approach to have a positive influence on the world.
When exploring what they need to help them address this challenge, many pointed to the need to utilize digital technology, something 69 percent of leaders say will be vital to helping them have a more positive impact on society in the coming years. While a further 73 percent connected the dots between the need to foster the right culture to make such an impact on the wider world, stating that “building and maintaining a creative and collaborative culture is key to having a positive influence on society.”
Duncan Tait adds, “Seventy-six percent of leaders acknowledge that it’s their responsibility to ensure that their organization makes a positive social impact. It’s something demanded of the business community, with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
giving us all a set of common goals. It’s something we at Fujitsu are placing a huge importance on
, with the SDGs being a key element in realizing our vision. Just as the leaders surveyed highlighted the importance of digital in ensuring positive societal impact, we’re focused on co-creation with our stakeholders to help us meet these global targets, for example, by using technologies like AI, IoT and Cloud to establish sustainable food and agriculture processes, improve healthcare, and aid collaboration within business. What’s more, we understand that to do this we need to give organizations the agility they need to adapt and respond. We recognize that digital helps to achieve a balanced approach where all three groups – employees, customers and citizens – are positively affected by an organization. We should view all groups as one because the ability to “do good” for employees, customers and citizens should lie at the heart of an organization. Make a positive difference to people – all people – and you will achieve success.”
Notes to editors
1This quantitative research was carried out in August 2018 by independent research company Censuswide, surveying 1,936 C-Suite decision makers within mid to large sized businesses across public sector and transport, financial services, retail and manufacturing.
Survey sample size per country and region:
US – 155
Australia – 150
UK – 156
Germany – 153
Spain – 150
Nordics – 150
France – 154
Portugal – 51
Italy – 151
Ireland – 53
Japan – 154
China – 152
India – 156
Hong Kong – 51
Singapore – 50
Thailand – 50
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Date: 18 October, 2018