COVID-19 spread like wildfire across the globe and devastated hundreds of macro and micro-communities and economies in its path. Indeed, the virus has scorched our American economic landscape beyond recognition. What was once a healthy, profitable, and tested climate, ripe with clear-cut standards and methods of success, is no longer in existence.
Businesses and employees are standing together at a unique intersection of a public health crisis, cultural and political upheaval, and economic uncertainty. COVID-19 continues to run rampant, the Black Lives Matter movement calls for a reallocation of social and political power, and industries have collapsed and crumbled throughout quarantine. Both corporations and employees are concerned about enduring this unprecedented trifecta of disasters and what our world will look like in the aftermath. The process of reconstruction looms on the horizon, and there is no map or guidebook to help navigate our new economic climate.
And while financial security will always remain a top priority among businesses and employees alike, I’ve seen this moment in history transcend economic concern and become a humanitarian crisis. For the first time in decades, a pressing concern for human life and health has trumped financial interest. COVID-19 has sparked a change in priorities that will only continue to ripple onwards and outwards through all economic sectors and social, political, and cultural issues. Executives will continue to see employees and consumers take strong stands on problems that plague our communities – and expect their company leadership to do the same.
What does this shift in consumer and employee priorities mean for executives left nursing companies back to life in a post-pandemic economy? Now more than ever, companies must adapt their product or service and company operations to align with broader concerns about human health and safety. Push comes to shove, and it will be value-driven organizations that soar after COVID-19 disappears.
The Importance of Value-Propositions in a Post-Pandemic Economy
In a recent McKinsey report, it was argued that the “leading organizations will boldly question long-held assumptions about how work should be done and the role of the office.” This idea of boldly reimagining how and where companies operate extends far beyond just the role of the office. All high-level executives are left wrestling with endless unanswerable questions right now: How and when can employees return to work? What role does remote work play in the long-term plan? How can organizations combat the losses from the first quarter of this year? How does a company adapt and streamline corporate structures and operations to thrive in a human-centric economy?
From an executive recruiting standpoint, a vital step in the process of answering some of these questions is having the right innovators and thinkers in your corner. I am a firm believer in the power of hiring the right people. Employees with the right expertise, understanding of your brand and marketplace, and business acumen will generate thoughtful solutions that can make or break company profit margins in times of strife.
That is why the smartest organizations will be asking even more profound questions about brand identity, current and future position in the marketplace, and the ability to attract and retain the most talented people. What makes employees believe in a product, service, or mission? How can an organization improve its value proposition to cater to a more socially conscious generation of talented innovators? How can a company respond in a meaningful way to the COVID-19 crisis?
The bottom line: gaining and retaining talent depends on a company’s ability to ground its product, service, or operations in contributions to timely, relevant issues that are threatening local and global communities. Understanding your company’s value proposition is critical to attracting and keeping the right people in-house. If employees can find meaning in their work and feel that they are a part of a more significant, positive social, culture, or economic contribution, the quality of work and talent improves.
I have seen plenty of changes and trends impact the process of talent acquisition and retention throughout my career as an executive recruiter, but none as impactful as this one. While we all might still be fighting fires and extinguishing the virus, the future of business is much more optimistic than pre-pandemic conditions because it demands a more altruistic approach to sales and operations.
The Expanding Role of Altruism in Business
The wrath of COVID-19, combined with the force of social injustices and civil unrest, has accelerated what was already an increasing trend in business: organizations must show awareness and investment in current events if they want to survive and thrive in this era of commerce. Employees want to contribute to an organization that adds value to the world and sees consumers as people, not dollar signs. Even before COVID-19, we had already seen an increase in the value and demand for solid sustainability practices, charitable efforts, and thoughtful, transparent political stances.
On the back end of such a massive public health crisis, business is now riddled with an unparalleled urgency and calls for humanistic operations in every industry. As organizations move forward, delivering a meaningful product or service and prioritizing social and community engagement will be the core of bringing (or keeping) the right people on board. Having the right team remains one of the singularly most essential factors in helping your company come out intact and on top of a post-COVID economy. The most compelling companies in the eyes of top-tier talent will be the ones that have plenty of moral, ethical, and value-driven ground to stand on.
While it may seem counterintuitive to sink more time and resources into intangible, socially driven facets of your organization’s product or service, it will serve you well as the American economy recovers and adapts to post-pandemic conditions. The most influential organizations in a post-pandemic economy will be those that adjust corporate priorities to reflect those of their employees. Emphasizing your company’s value proposition, engaging in social and community outreach, improving sustainability practices, and investing in the wellbeing of your entire employee-base will be the deciding factors in whether a company lives or dies in our new, uncharted terrain.
If you want to learn more about our executive search services, read our industry-leading resources and see why Cowen Partners is a 5-star retained executive search firm serving clients in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond: