What Can Be Changed

Inc. (USA) - - CON­TENTS - James Led­bet­ter jamesl@inc.com

In the years lead­ing up to World War II, the Amer­i­can the­olo­gian Rein­hold Niebuhr wrote a prayer poem that would be­come far more pop­u­lar than he could ever have an­tic­i­pated. It opens by ask­ing a di­vine power for “grace to ac­cept with seren­ity the things that can­not be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wis­dom to dis­tin­guish the one from the other.” This nugget has been taken to heart by all man­ner of self-help seek­ers, but it can also be read as sound ad­vice for peo­ple run­ning busi­nesses. There will al­ways be things that an in­di­vid­ual CEO can­not change. Macroe­co­nomic forces, for ex­am­ple, are out­side the scope of what a com­pany can di­rectly af­fect. As ed­i­tor-at-large Leigh Buchanan notes on page 26, the size and qual­ity of the avail­able hir­ing pool for any busi­ness de­pends on na­tional poli­cies on im­mi­gra­tion and ed­u­ca­tion.

We spent a lot of time ex­plor­ing that, and its man­i­fold im­pli­ca­tions, be­cause this is­sue is de­voted to how you can find the best team pos­si­ble. The State of Hir­ing 2018 pack­age opened by Buchanan’s es­say spot­lights the new and cre­ative ways in which com­pa­nies are find­ing work­ers in a tight la­bor econ­omy—from look­ing at pop­u­la­tions out­side the tra­di­tional work­force to tap­ping ta­lent all around the globe.

Of course, once you’ve landed all your dream em­ploy­ees, your next task is re­tain­ing all that ta­lent. Inc.’ s an­nual Best Work­places sur­vey ( page 74) is filled with com­pa­nies that have shown the courage to change what should be changed to keep their work­ers happy and en­gaged. One in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar ex­am­ple is of­fer­ing em­ploy­ees un­lim­ited paid time off. This con­cept was all but un­heard of a decade ago, yet is now of­fered by 30 per­cent of the nearly 2,000 work­places that took our sur­vey.

The se­cret to chang­ing what needs to be changed in busi­ness, then, is lead­er­ship. If you build and main­tain the right team, you’ll find that the scope of what can’t be changed is much smaller than you thought.

The #MeToo move­ment has cre­ated some far-reach­ing con­ver­sa­tions about women in the work­place, es­pe­cially when it comes to the wage gap. On pages 56 and 58, Inc. colum­nist He­laine Olen il­lus­trates the de­gree of the prob­lem, and high­lights what smart com­pa­nies are do­ing to change the equa­tion.

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