Marsh & McLennan Advantage Insights logo
Conversations and insights from the edge of global business
Menu Search
In Practice

The Best of In Practice on BRINK in 2020

In all, we published 70 In Practice articles on BRINK during the course of 2020, and they were some of our most widely shared. Not surprisingly, given the nature of 2020, a lot of the pieces focused on how to support one another through difficult times. 

In his piece, “Why Showing Kindness Benefits Business and Society”, Wolfgang Seidl of Mercer argued that practicing kindness should be treated as a competitive advantage by businesses:

“The disruption caused by the virus and emotional impact of the lockdown means we are ready to re-evaluate the importance of health and well-being, the meaning of work and the value of work-life balance for boosting mental well-being.”

Staying Healthy

The issue of mental health as an impact of COVID was covered widely in different forms. Wolfgang Seidl wrote another piece on “How to Protect Your Workers’ Mental Health During Coronavirus,” which was widely shared:

“According to psychological research, there are four elements that are essential to building the resilience needed to stay healthy under pressure. Known as the 4Cs, these are our need for positive interaction with others (community), wanting to feel part of something important (commitment), the chance to stretch ourselves without feeling overwhelmed (challenge), and the need to have a sense of control over our daily lives (control).”

Emily Stone of Kellogg Insight advocated the need for taking breaks in the home-working routine, and keeping a clear separation between home and work activities. Jennifer Petriglieri who studies organizational behavior at INSEAD had some “Simple Steps for Employers to Reduce Their Employees’ Stress at Home:”

“If this period teaches senior leaders of the benefits of flexible working and destigmatizes it, then both employees and organizations will benefit.”

Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends revealed conflicting impulses among business leaders over how to handle employee well-being, according to Ilya Bonic and Kate Bravery of Mercer:

“While 58% of businesses are trying to become more people-centric, only 27% of C-suite executives believe their investment in the employee experience will yield a business return.”

Leadership

Not surprisingly, leadership was the focus of a number of our contributors. Frances Frei, professor at Harvard Business School, had a simple piece of advice: “The Secret to Good Leadership: It’s Not About You:”

“Our definition of leadership is that it’s about setting the conditions for other people to thrive, first in your presence and then in your absence. We’re saying that the very definition of leadership is when you are empowering others.”

In “How the Science of Perception Can Make a Better Leader”, Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist, argued that understanding why we perceive things the way we do will help leaders to make better decisions:

“You need to understand that uncertainty is not this space that you always need to avoid. Only when you go to uncertainty do you have the possibility of seeing differently.”

Inclusion

How to implement diversity in the workplace was a common theme throughout the year given the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of the millennial voice. However, data from Institutional Shareholder Services showed that corporate boards were making little headway, despite all the discussion:

Pamela Newkirk, the author of Diversity, Inc: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business, warned that a lot of diversity training had been shown to have little impact:

“All the climate surveys, the anti-bias training, the meetings and the reports and the surveys and the studies, etc. Institutions are devoting billions of dollars to all of that each year, while diversity is not flourishing. Only the business of diversity is flourishing.”

Mercer’s Ayçe Nisancioglu identified a shortage of effective mentoring programs as a critical reason why more women are not rising to the top of corporations:

“Sponsorship and mentorship programs have the potential to level the playing field between men and women in recognizing high-potential talent.”

In their book, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace, David G. Smith and Brad Johnson argue that men should work to ensure that women are heard at meetings and, where possible, share salary information so that female colleagues know when there is a pay gap:

“Things that perpetuate inequity often have something to do with secrecy. And nothing drives a deeper wedge than the pay gap — the lack of transparency about who’s getting paid, who has negotiated what kind of benefits, who has negotiated a sweet deal with respect to maybe flex work time, who’s in line for the next promotion, which promotions are coming up, etc.”

Finally, Wim Hof, an extreme athlete, urged employees to use simple breathing techniques to regulate mood, which in turn, impacts concentration and performance.

“It seems that the breathing exercises effectively tap into the stress mechanisms of the brain, which helps to give us a sense of control over our mood. In the time of COVID-19, anxiety and inflammation are problems, and this method can be effective at combating both of them.”

BRINK’s most widely read pieces on In Practice in 2020 were:

  1. How to Protect Your Workers’ Mental Health During Coronavirus
  2. How to Put People First As the Coronavirus Outbreak Grows 
  3. 6 Steps to Reopen Business Post-COVID 
  4. COVID-19 Has Exposed the Weakness of Traditional Risk Management Strategies 
  5. How Companies Can Approach Recruiting During Coronavirus

If you would like to read more of our In Practice articles from 2020 — anything from new forms of recruitment to better decision-making and solving pay equity — you can find them all here.

Thomas Carver

Executive Editor of BRINK News

Thomas Carver is the executive editor of BRINK News. Carver was vice president for communications and strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a journalist for the BBC from 1984 to 2004.

Get ahead in a rapidly changing world. Sign up for our daily newsletter. Subscribe