2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Unveiled

“The rise of the social enterprise” emphasizes the need for realignment among the C-suite to focus on business’s evolving role in society

Posted on May 9, 2018.

We were excited to debut the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, The rise of the social enterprise, recently at Bersin,™ Deloitte Consulting LLP’s IMPACT conference to an enthusiastic audience of HR leaders and practitioners. Everyone in the room and beyond—with thousands more watching our first-ever livestream of the launch— got the first glimpse of this year’s trends. The trends reflect seismic changes underway as organizations are increasingly judged not only on their relationships with workers, customers, and communities, but also their impact on society at large—transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.

Filling society’s leadership gap
Increased transparency and heightened political awareness have drawn widespread attention to business’s role in society as a driver of change. Organizations find they are increasingly expected to exercise their ability to do social good, both externally for customers, communities and society, as well as internally for their employees. True social enterprises must take a total stakeholder approach to pressing public issues to maintain reputation and relevancy.

Among the many factors contributing to the rise of the social enterprise, we see three powerful macro forces driving the urgency of this change.

First, the power of the individual is growing, with millennials at the forefront.
According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, 86 percent of millennials think that business success should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.1 In fact, 77 percent of this year’s trends survey respondents cited citizenship as important or very important. Millennials’ high expectations for corporate responsibility are a strong contributor, with 76 percent regarding business as a force for positive social impact.2

With more pressure on businesses to be good citizens and engineer solutions to critical social challenges, citizenship must be a core part of an organization’s identity and mission. But despite the emerging link between social impact and companies’ financial performance, only 18 percent of trends survey respondents say citizenship is a top priority in corporate strategy. Thirty-four percent have few or poorly funded citizenship programs, and 22 percent are not focused on this at all.

Second, businesses are being expected to fill a widening leadership vacuum in society.
There is a widespread perception that political systems are growing more and more polarized and less and less effective at meeting social challenges. Citizens are looking to business to fill the void on critical issues such as income inequality, health care, diversity, and cybersecurity to help make the world more equal or fair. This expectation is placing immense pressure on companies— consumers and employees alike are holding companies’ feet to the fire when it comes to how they treat their employees, communities, and society at large. At the same time, it is also creating opportunities. Organizations that engage with people and demonstrate that they are worthy of trust are polishing their reputation, winning allies, and influencing or supplanting traditional public policy mechanisms.

Third, technological change is having unforeseen impacts on society even as it creates massive opportunities to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and new communications technologies are fundamentally changing how work gets done, who does it, and how it influences society.3 People increasingly realize that rapid technological change, while holding out the promise of valuable opportunities, also creates unforeseen impacts that can undermine social cohesion. Many stakeholders are alarmed, and they expect businesses to channel this force for the broader good.

In the past year, organizations have become laser-focused on how automation-induced job shifts will impact individuals. Our trends research shows that more than 4 in 10 companies believe automation will have a major impact on jobs, and 61 percent are now actively redesigning jobs around AI and robotics. Additionally, 72 percent of HR and business leaders rated the topic of AI as important or very important, yet only 31 percent feel ready to navigate changes. At the same time, 42 percent believe AI will be widely deployed in their companies within 3-5 years.

The power of the individual requires a holistic approach to jobs and careers.
Against this backdrop, companies and individuals realize the traditional career model is becoming defunct. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed consider building new career models and skills as very important. More than 54 percent have no programs in place to build the skills of the future, and only 18 percent feel they give employees opportunities to develop themselves. To be true to their role as drivers of change in the social enterprise, companies need to work to develop and implement robust solutions to decrease the growing skills gaps.

Tackling the issues requires a cohesive, C-suite-led response.
According to this year’s research, a lack of C-suite integration is the No. 1 thing holding companies back from tackling today’s human capital challenges. Respondents overwhelmingly point to the need for a symphonic C-suite—a team-based, cross-disciplinary approach to tackling complex issues—with 85 percent calling this trend important or very important. Survey results show companies where C-suite executives regularly collaborate are one-third more likely to be growing 10 percent more than companies whose leadership operates in siloes. However, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents reported their C-suite isn’t working together despite the need for increased collaboration on human capital challenges.

Explore the report like never before
This is just a sampling of the rich insights and data that can be found in the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report. More than 11,000 business and HR executives responded to this year’s survey, and many leaders were interviewed in depth. You can access the full report via Deloitte’s digital-first HC Tends mobile app.

The app is conveniently accessible across mobile devices, tablets, and desktops and features new ways for our clients to interact with the survey data, including video stories from leading companies on how they’re addressing the Trends, easy access to related research and insights, a calendar of regional Trends events, and more.


1 Deloitte, The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, accessed January 24, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Heather Stockton, Mariya Filipova, and Kelly Monahan, The evolution of work: New realities facing today’s leaders, Deloitte Insights, January 30, 2018.


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