Why business leaders need to act now.

I met with the CEO of a mental health company last year and remember asking him “what’s the answer” to some of the biggest challenges that we’re facing. Talking is good but if there is no solution for the problems, then what?

It’s something that I’ve been thinking about given the mental health stats and increasing pressure on the middle class. I’ve been reading a few different books related to this topic lately but one of the messages that leaders should take to heart now more than ever is from Leading with Purpose by Nick Craig.

The message that is giving me food for thought is about circumstance vs. purpose.

Purpose 

Purpose is about living your why. A job or a title does not define us or change how we work if we are working in alignment with our purpose. 

You’ve probably heard that message before and had the good fortune to make adjustments when needed. What about your employees? Are they making decisions and acting from purpose or circumstance? My guess is that many are acting from circumstance and fear. 

Most people are pretty aware of the changes underway and likely wondering where they are going to fit in a new automated world and how they are going to survive in the future.

As leaders, we should be easing that pressure by identifying the people most at risk and helping them to re-skill in ways that align with their purpose.

Job Training vs. Education

There is a lot of talk about companies placing more emphasis on skills and job training rather than degrees and schools. It’s a good direction but what happens if we could offer both?

RUSH was an early pioneer in online training. To gain trust and credibility, we had all of our course work evaluated by the NASBA which is an organization that grants permission to companies to award Continuing Professional Eduction [CPE] credit offered to Certified Public Accountants [CPAs].

We discovered that some of our participants used our CPE credits for college credits. That gave them the opportunity to master the needed skills for their current job while also giving them an economical pathway to a degree and future opportunities.

Extending that kind of offering to employees takes some additional work and/or money but it’s the right thing to do regardless of whether they stay with the company.

Housing

The first chapter of the 5 Rules for Tomorrow’s Cities covers some pretty grim statistics. In short, there is very little correlation if any, between wages and housing costs in most major cities. The stock market and housing gains are signs of asset inflation not general market conditions.

During the housing run up just before the 2008 Financial Crisis, I was looking at just two stats: professional level salaries versus the cost of housing. Using the standard ratio for housing costs versus income [25%], it didn’t make sense in San Francisco even with a two income household. San Francisco stats have gotten worse since 2008 but surprisingly, it is not the worse case scenario now.

Leaders should be looking at the housing vs. income stat now and either rebasing salaries or adding a housing subsidy so that employees who need to be onsite, can live within an hour of their office. A commute longer than an hour eliminates the personal time needed for job re-skilling and health maintenance activities.

Action speaks louder than words

Talk therapy is important but without action, nothing changes for the positive. As leaders, we need to help stem the tide and work to address existing economic issues.

We can change the circumstances so that more people have the privilege to act with purpose. This video of leaders at Davos discussing their results of stakeholder capitalism will inspire you.