The Most Inspiring Business Trends of 2018

All-electric school buses. News anchors who meditate. Flat organizations that eschew centralized control for empowered agility.

Sound like a fantasy? It’s actually happening right before our eyes.

Each year we compile the most inspiring trends we’ve witnessed in the business world. From the rise of social enterprise, mindfulness and renewables to a focus on more human cultures and agile organizations, here are some of our favorite trends from 2018:

 
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Women Take the Lead

Come January, more than 100 women will serve in the United States House of Representatives, and another 25 will serve in the 100-member Senate. While still low in terms of proportion of population, the US will have far more women serving in Congress than ever before. Women are taking charge in the business world as well. Check out this profile of 7 inspiring female CEOs and this piece about women leading startups in India. While we have a long way to go toward equality, things are changing.

 
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The Auto Industry Commits to a Fully Electric Future

Earlier this year, industry witnessed a sea change as major car companies nearly fell over themselves with bold commitments to shift their fleets to all-electric vehicles. GM announced it will bring at least 20 all-electric vehicles to market by 2023, and electric vehicle company Tesla projected it would deliver 100,000 all-electric semi-trucks to companies including Walmart, Pepsi, UPS and Sysco by that same year. And remember those polluting diesel school buses? They may soon go the way of the dodo, as states including Indiana, New York and Illinois commit tens of millions of dollars to purchase all-electric school buses.

 
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Business Stands for Diversity and Inclusion

While the US has certainly seen its fair share of racism this year, movements for diversity and inclusion in business are not only on the rise - they are steadily changing the landscape. Check out this piece from Forbes about 4 companies that are getting it right, and see which companies made the top 20 of Refinitiv’s esteemed Diversity and Inclusion Index this year. While you’re at it, check out the top 6 companies giving back to refugees, and learn how immigrants help the economy by helping businesses grow.

 

Mindfulness Goes Mainstream

Health care giant Aetna offers its employees intensive mindfulness programs. ABC News has a meditation room in its New York Headquarters - and its news anchors actually use it. And thousands of Goldman Sachs bankers participate in its resilience programs each year. Mindfulness and meditation have become mainstream, and they are taking off in business as essential tools for reducing stress and increasing focus. The holidays can be a great time to start a new practice and keep it going into the New Year - check out our recent digest for the best meditation apps.

 
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Organizations Innovate New Structures

The modern workplace is changing. From Tesla and Gore-tex to numerous tech companies, including People Piece client ConsenSys, organizations are not only promoting increased ownership and autonomy among employees - they are also experimenting with entirely new organizational structures that replace command and control with collaboration, fluidity, and decentralization. Check out this in-depth article on the link between flatter, more adaptive structures and increased levels of innovation. Share your experiences in the comments section.

 
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Social Enterprise on the Rise

If profit ruled the 80s and 90s, purpose is driving the new century. As this white paper by consulting firm Deloitte demonstrates, “Organizations are no longer judged only for their financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, they are being evaluated on the basis of their impact on society at large—transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.” Check Forbes’ annual ‘30 Under 30,’ an inspiring profile of young social entrepreneurs “leveraging business smarts to save the world.” While profit still matters, factors like culture, inclusivity, environmental impact, and social good are beginning to matter just as much, or even more.

 
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Humans At Work

There is a movement afoot in business - one we are proud to be part of - and its basic idea is this: we need to bring humanity back to the workplace. That means creating and sustaining workplace cultures that include empathy, presence, authenticity and balance, in addition to focus and results. These days, it’s hard to attend an HR conference or read a copy of Harvard Business Review that does not promote these themes. It’s also the idea behind Humu, a new start-up launched by Google’s former Head of People Ops which prompts users throughout the day to focus on relationships by engaging in practices like appreciating their colleagues. ‘Human at Work’ is not only the name of this monthly digest, it also underlies everything we do at The People Piece, from helping new managers give compassionate feedback and seasoned leaders practice coaching an employee to developing teams based on empathy and cultures that include all voices.


While there is always more change to work for, there was also a lot to be inspired by in 2018. We invite you to share these stories with anyone you know who could use a dose of hope this holiday season.

From all of us at The People Piece, we wish you a restful and nourishing year end. Thank you for all you do for a kinder, more sustainable, and more inclusive world. As always, please get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how we can work together to develop inspiring new ways of leading, relating and working together toward a common purpose at your organization.

Cheers,

Roni, Jess, Genna, Emily, Jim, Elizabeth, Cameron, Christine and the entire People Piece team