Short-Termism and Its Negative Impact on Sustainable Human-Centered Organisational Cultures

Short-termism is a major obstacle to any organisation's ability to sustainably cultivate human-centered cultures that treat employees as valued individuals who are empowered, respected, and valued.

The unprecedented digital transformation, climate change, natural calamities, and economic inequality of the past two monumental years posed problems that demanded quick and agile solutions increasing short-termism in many organisations.

Although the focus of many organisations has shifted to approaches that revolve around human-centric values as a way of bringing the needs of their stakeholders and communities into a healthy balance, most still struggle to achieve impact. 

This fact is often attributed to short-term performance pressures, excessive focus on quarterly earnings, and little to no attention paid to long-term strategy and the value it sustainably creates. Causing most organisations to struggle with the shift and alignment of their values with those of the leaders, workforce, customers, and communities.  

For organisations to act long-term in a short-term world, they must:

1. Acknowledge the short-termism in their existing organisational structures

They should take focused audits to identify their blindspots. Fiercely holding on to strategies that might have „historically“ worked is still endemic in most organisations today. A fact through which many organisations have lost their relevance and competitive edge on the regional, national, and even global front as the world becomes increasingly digital.

To keep on course in a fast-changing environment organisations need to be forward-thinking, develop, implement and communicate sustainability strategies that provide an intentional human-centric approach rooted in data over the long term. 

2. Shift to a more long-term oriented empathetic lens to strategy

Organisations need to confidently communicate their business and leadership strategy and demonstrate how their approach will sustainably center the stakeholders while creating long-term value.

To achieve this, organisations need to shift their focus towards understanding what people do and why they do what they do by asking the right questions.

This is a difficult task that requires a deep understanding of empathy for people and their circumstances. Understanding the needs of the people directly involved with the services and products organisations provide, and building facts and data around this understanding, is the future of strategy.

This is what a people-centric organisation should be all about. 

3. Invest in human-centered leaders

We know that the success of even the best organisational strategies rises and falls on the leadership of any organisation.

To sustainably create a people-centric environment in a world where digital advancements are accelerated, organisations must invest in human-centered leaders.

For human-centered leaders, continually upskilling the workforce so they can execute tasks that may require a different set of skills tomorrow is non-negotiable. They believe that the potential of every employee can be developed and harnessed given the right tools, empowerment, and a psychologically safe environment.

They are forward-thinking and constantly strive towards creating a culture of recognition through their leadership.

A culture where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered.  

Adopting these three strategies will enable organisations to:

  • Have access to qualitative insights that will enable them to create better human experiences, build resilience and sustainably foster the right ecosystems that allow innovation.
  • Create empowered teams that can sustainably leverage diversity to effectively and successfully serve their customers and communities.
  • Intentionally and actively work towards embedding people centricity into their fabric for the long-term.

For organisations to cultivate and maintain human-centered cultures in a world where digital advancements are evolving at an unprecedented pace, they must focus on building ecosystems where people have a sense of belonging and trust and can work together towards addressing the challenges the industrial revolution brings.


Natalie Schrogl - Author

Founder & Managing Director, The Interface Leadership

Natalie Schrogl is a sought after leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and creator of "The ARMOUR of Leadership", a template for leadership transformation and a solid guide to crafting a sustainable response to the changing leadership landscape.