Organizational health is relevant to the insight industry 

Editor’s note: Andy Drake is owner of The Drake Partnership, Newbury, England. 

Organizational health exists when a company is both smart and healthy. And while I believe it’s important to all industries, I would argue organizational health is even more vital to the insights industry as it is defined by smart people, intellectual rigor, technical methods, processes and platforms – and sometimes self-induced complexity. 

The inherent technical focus of marketing research can ‘smother’ thinking about the underlying issue of how companies and people are and should be behaving. So, while the insight industry cries out for clients to become more consumer centric, it should also work internally on becoming more people centric. 

Why organizational health? 

There are several reasons why I believe organizational health is the most important business challenge. In this article, I’ll work to describe the top reasons.  

Organizational health is right for the times 

We are in a time of “people crisis” in the workplace. Technology has created an always-on working culture, and a life-changing global pandemic has affected working styles and space. But perhaps the most significant change is that people are now reevaluating what they want from work. 

There are some revealing and, I believe, deeply disturbing U.K. stats:

  • 40% of U.K. employees are considering leaving their current company in the next 6-12 months, the cost estimated at $20 bn.
  • 89% of people have experienced burn-out, 25% all the time.
  • 81% feel increased stress.
  • 64% will find another job if well-being is not supported.

This data is a wake-up call. Leaders have both a vested business and societal interest in addressing the issue. Not every company suffers from lack of health but pockets of unhealthiness can exist in otherwise good companies. Leaders often have blind spots or knowingly accept they are part of the overall culture, which I think is a fatal mistake. There is a significant positive multiplier and dividend effect of health and trust, just as there is a negative tax when things are not right.  

Employees also want their company to be ethical and purposeful, to do the right thing, to truly endorse areas like diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility. Company leaders need to support colleagues on their physical and mental well-being. It all matters.

Finally, given the reality of a sharp global slowdown, companies are compelled to do more with what they have but avoid repeating the same mistakes that have led to dissonance and burn out. The economic cost of losing good people and not developing future stars is a clear drag on performance.

Organizational health brings about a competitive advantage  

Most companies increasingly have good products, technology, platforms and processes but the real competitive advantage that still often remains suboptimal is individual performance, team performance and the opportunity to develop. The Timpson Group example I used in Part 1 is evidence of the impact on performance that organizational health can have, particularly when the organization is clear and aligned and the right conditions are in place for people to have the confidence, support and freedom to deliver. 

Change is everywhere

It would be almost impossible to find any entity that does not undergo significant and continuous change these days, simply because if they don’t, they die pretty quickly. Organizational health is relevant in all cases but arguably heightened in situations like: 

  • Mergers and acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions often struggle because although on paper the combined lineup of product, process and platforms looks great, insufficient effort is given to the true organizational traits, the uncertainty created by the change and the overall needs of people. Organizations need to focus on real attention and listening or else value is destroyed. 
  • New ideas and platforms. Companies that embrace technological gain, change and try to optimize process or introduce new ones. The common thread is that people can make or break new processes, and the lessons of effective change and health are highly relevant.
  • International collaboration. My experience here says that insufficient thought and time is given to differences in culture. Respect and understanding for partners, overseas colleagues and culture is sometimes underplayed and performance stymied.   

Organizational health helps future proof your business

The commitment to organizational health gives people reasons to believe, which ultimately gives them a sense of belonging and worth. It also creates a climate and culture that naturally breeds the next wave of leaders and high performers. 

Changing the global insight industry for the better 

The beginning of the organizational health journey starts with the acknowledgement that there is work to be done. It is not easy, but you will see results and build a better, more successful company where people stay and prosper, teams work together and hard business results are inevitable. It’s time to act.