Business transformation and cultural change

Business transformation and cultural change
Published: 3 February 2020

Highly competitive market conditions and disruptive technologies are changing the face of traditional business models and revolutionising employee and consumer expectations. Last week we hosted our first HR Leadership dinner of 2020, where 85% of the 35 HR leaders who attended said that they were currently going through some sort of business transformation. Evolving business models, new technology and rebranding are just some of the changes that organisations are involved in.

The importance of employee engagement

Having spoken with many HR Directors about the changes happening within their business, it is clear that ensuring people are engaged on the transformation journey from an early stage is just as important as the transformation itself. Of the 85% of respondents at our dinner who said their business was going through transformation, all said that HR was involved in this and that the impact on their people was being considered. However, in some cases, leaders can often unfortunately be preoccupied with the structural change of a transformation, subsequently failing to invest enough time in the people aspect, and they might then wonder why there was little success. It is critical for leaders to understand the advantages of bringing people on the transformation journey. Organisational agility, and a culture that embraces change, is critical in a successful transformation that still enables the company’s underlying strategy. 

Transparency is key

Helen Miller (Talent, Culture and Communications Director at The Very Group), our keynote speaker, discussed The Very Group’s transformation from a traditional print catalogue business to one of the UK’s biggest online retailers, as well as their recent rebrand from Shop Direct. She described how the success of these transformations would not have been possible if their people were not on board with what they were trying to achieve. The leadership team strived for transparency across the business in terms of their communication and the way that they worked with each other. The leadership team was able to ensure that the employees affected by the changes were treated fairly and felt supported by offering reskilling. By ’leading from the front’ and creating a distinct vision and end goal, it allowed everyone across the business to fully engage and join them on their transformation journey.

Celebrate your success

This sounds easy; however, Helen recognised how easy it is to forget to celebrate success. A lot of the time, as soon as a team or individual hits a milestone their focus moves on to the next one, with little thought for what they had just accomplished. Taking some time out as a team to look holistically at what has been achieved is extremely important and can also create a closer bond between colleagues. Everyone responds well to success; why not shout about it?

Talent attraction

Attracting external talent is important to all organisations, and in a fiercely competitive market it is important to differentiate yourselves from the competition. To attract the top talent, companies must have great reputations, great cultures and somewhere that offers candidates opportunities for development. For talent considering joining a business that is going through change, if they can see that everyone is ’on board’ and working towards the same goal, they will be attracted to this, which in turn can then help the subsequent success of the change.

Business transformation is inevitable for any organisation regardless of sector, whether it is a start-up or a much more established company. Creating a culture that embraces change will enable them to have a point of difference and competitive advantage, whilst also investing in their long-term performance. As Helen explained at our HR Leadership Dinner, it is crucial to have a strong and committed HR leadership team that fosters a culture of resilience and growth. This can increase engagement, reduce attrition and attract top talent, whilst still navigating a way through any change or business transformation.

For more information on anything discussed in this article or on HR leadership please contact Amelia Black, Consultant in the Human Resources Practice. Amelia recruits HR positions at Berwick Partners, advising clients on the best talent in the market. 

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