Insights Blog

  • Jon Wilton

Understanding the Human Capital in your Digital Transformation

The Current State

A comprehensive understanding of the mental wellbeing of your workforce has never been more important. After two years of lockdowns, employees are re-entering a workplace that is an uncertain mix of Work From Home (WFH) and on-site hours. This is heightened further by current anxieties around economic instability and a more digitalised environment, potentially leading to a greater feeling of isolation.

It essential to look after the mental wellbeing of your Human Capital (your people). This is also key to understanding change readiness and Development. By bringing the Human Resources (HR) function into the boardroom, you can begin to understand the significance of mental health and its impact on your workforce’s performance and resilience.

Your people should be at the forefront rather than being an afterthought in your business decisions. We bring a series of boardroom solutions that benefit your employees, your customers and your business.

Why Must We Change

In one of my former articles, I wrote about the hidden mental health issues that are hampering your workforce. The pandemic has only increased the vulnerability of your workforce. Current economic conditions also contribute. It is time to recognise that mental wellbeing should be a regular subject on your boardroom agenda, supported by analytics that provide proper insight and actions to improve the mental wellbeing of your company.

There are obvious benefits to caring. A workforce that feels listened to and valued has improved self-esteem and engagement, leading to maximised employee experience and improved customer experience. This is a positive reflection of your company’s values and developed leadership expertise.

This is what it can do for your company:

  • A positive and engaged approach to work will improve interactions with colleagues and customers

  • Reduced employee turnover leads to increased retention of more experienced staff, less customer churn and more reliable talent management and succession results

  • Improved employee engagement and experience

  • Reduced absence levels with improved productivity and effectiveness

  • Business success and a contributing HR strategy are deeply Intertwined. This is reflected in innovative and competitive business performance. Failure to address the mental wellbeing of your workforce creates low engagement. Subsequently, limited employee potential and business results will be limited as well.

A dissatisfied workforce will demonstrate very limited change readiness. The University of Oxford has tried to put a figure to the potential loss of productivity caused by workforce dissatisfaction and estimates that on a global scale, a disengaged workforce leads to ‘approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity’. On the other hand, an engaged workforce increases productivity levels by 13%, according to a Gallup report.


Why change now?

In a post-pandemic world, understanding the wellbeing of your employees is not a luxury, but a necessity. This is particularly true as new generations enter the workforce with different attributes and demands. Millennials and Gen Zs have new frames of requirements compared to their predecessors and they are demanding different solutions from employers to thrive in their professional roles.

Research conducted by the Deloitte Global survey (link to source below) shows: 41% of millennials and 46% of Gen Zs shared that they feel stressed or anxious most or all of the time. This appears to be caused primarily by the pandemic, rises in the cost of living, environmental concerns, fear for burnout, financial insecurity, and uncertainty about the future.

All these factors lead to: reduced productivity, less engagement, less change readiness, low self-esteem, reduced interaction focused on positive customer experience and most likely reduced or stagnating business results.

Linking mental wellbeing with the effects mentioned above, it becomes clear that there is no room to further stigmatise the phenomenon ‘mental health in the workplace’. HR must drive many of these changes and, consequently, they must be present and an influence at the highest level of decision-making.


Our solution

Bringing HR into the boardroom is the first step towards a solution:

  • HR can translate ‘soft’ issues into data and analysis, reducing the unquantifiable argument of ‘gut feeling’. In order to translate real issues into real solutions, we must learn how to demonstrate these changes in a quantifiable way. The HR function must provide data and analytics to support and drive proposed improvements and decisions.

  • It is essential that HR owns a boardroom concern in terms of driving solutions through data and analysis that leads to quantifiable actions.

  • A shift from HR to Human Capital Management (HCM) is the next significant step toward a new perspective. Once the boardroom fully understands the investment required to hire and develop staff, as well as understanding that people drive innovation, new products and services, then HCM will have a place at the boardroom table.

Final thoughts

We believe that the current challenge facing organisations, including new priorities among the workforce—evidenced by the Great Resignation—and the difficulties posed by remote/hybrid working—particularly on new hires who may struggle to get a feel for culture and values—makes a strong case for seating HR in the boardroom.

The mental wellbeing of your workforce can no longer be ignored and must be recognised and valued alongside other critical business activities. As we have written about elsewhere, you should not attempt digital transformation without first measuring the resilience of your workforce. A change initiative forced on an unprepared workforce, particularly if it is experiencing burnout, lack of engagement and siloed teams, will result in delays and potentially failure.

By putting mental health and HCM on the boardroom agenda, you are investing in the success of your workforce and therefore the long-term sustainability of your business. This topic deserves constant attention and prioritisation, and we believe business practices should always reflect this.

To find out more about our HCM consultancy services, including workforce resilience and mental health, please go to our People capabilities page: