Preparing your business for the current moment and the post-COVID-19 world requires embracing a growth mindset. But to what extent can leaders future-proof their companies when so much remains unknown? Pandemic or no pandemic, there are tried and true, and some new strategies for creating a resilient and flexible organization.
It goes without saying that technology will be front and center of this movement. Technology has always developed at an unmatched pace, and now, the demand for dependable security networks, digital collaboration tools, and top-notch online user experiences will separate companies learning as they go versus those relying on the pre-pandemic playbook. In this way, investing in new technologies and skills training will be a non-negotiable factor for businesses that don’t want to be left catching up.
On top of that, consumers expectations for performance and transparency are at an all-time high. With such public scrutiny and exposure, organizations diving into innovation and managerial skill growth will draw in people that are looking for authentic, engaging companies that they trust to spend their money and time.
Seem like a lot of moving pieces? Almost like a mantra from last year, hard times often present valuable opportunities to shift and rebuild new systems that can serve your clients even better than before. One of BWBacon’s values is overcoming adversity, or the understanding that hard work and adaptability build a foundation for weathering the storms of change. Approach your future planning and long-term vision with a focus on agility and development, and be transparent with your team.
With your team’s buy in on projects and goals, you can create an environment that encourages new ideas, based on the awareness that your team is working “for” each other instead of just “with” each other. Leadership plays a big role in relaying the significance of common goals, and building in check-points with individuals to keep isolation at bay.
Lean on your company’s core values to inform a clear vision for moving forward. What is it your clients need the most during this time? What do they appreciate, and how can your team anticipate their needs ahead of time using data and insights? How will you approach optimizing services without a clear road map of what’s to come?
To start answering those pressing questions, we must first turn to tech itself. In order to future-proof your company, embracing advancements in technology from better data aggregation, to AI, to cloud storage and modern security software is key. It is also more important than ever for an organization’s communication to be at its best, internally and externally. According to Coca Cola’s IT Director George Hantzis, “the digital collaboration tools that have become ubiquitous enable bi-directional communication, but only if business leaders facilitate it.”
Stressing that execution has more to do with embracing tech than simply having it, this is where the human element informs the extent of its usefulness. Business leaders are challenged to think outside the box, and leverage technology for team building, training, and efficient communication. None of these efforts can happen without good planning. As Hantzis adds, “you have to [execute] with excellence in order to ensure clarity, and ensure everybody in the team is aligned.” What it really means is ensuring your team is properly trained on the software they are required to use, and leaning on automation to maximize productivity.
The rising trend of automation in AI and machine learning technologies has been around for more than a decade, but today, its reach infiltrates nearly every job and industry. According to research by the McKinsey firm, within 60 percent of jobs, at least 30 percent of activities could be automated using technology. But before you say, “the robots are taking over!”, the main goal of these advancements is to free up time, space, and capacity for humans to take on creative tasks that they are distinctively qualified to handle.
On a final note of using technology to its fullest, consider the cost-benefit analysis of extended remote work and what investing in new software or upgrading equipment could do for your team overall. The initial costs of setting up your employees with home office supplies, training them in a new system, or paying for the cloud technologies that keep data safe may be high, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of long-tenured leases in downtown skyscrapers.--> Learn more about new technologies and how they are shaking the status quo in 2021…
Whether you are trying to better understand your customers or your employees, many companies fail to take full advantage of their data insights. Is your organization’s research informing changes in your process? How often does your company seek feedback or relevant insights to help fix certain problems?
Managing your data with a lens of strengthening weaknesses and finding gaps is the way to go. We recommend creating a plan to analyze and redirect your data streams. Identify the top three metrics that can measure the impact of your services, and then build an action plan around improving those metrics. For example, this could look like researching where leads fall out of your customer pipeline, or don’t convert to becoming customers. Alternatively, it could also mean deploying an employee engagement survey to get more qualitative data on your organization’s turnover and how to better support your employees.
Insights and pathways to evolve your services and products can also come from external sources. The most successful leaders of our time consistently site that they brought in other experts to provide fresh perspectives and outsider observations. Terry Dry, CEO of Future Proof Advisors, said, “these outside resources will pressure test your strategy and help you think in ways you had likely never considered before.” What could be better than brand new ideas and partnerships? Dry adds, “park your ego at the door, take off the blinders, and be receptive to the help of others.”
Speaking of data and insights, the WHO estimated that American businesses lose around 300 billion dollars every year due to lack of productivity and high stress. On top of that, depression is estimated to cause about 200 million lost workdays each year, costing employers between 17 and 44 billion dollars annually. Why did we suddenly start talking about mental health? Because it’s deeply connected to a company’s success and its ability to hold onto to talented people. If you want your remote work company culture to be sustainable on the long-term, paying attention to burnout and realistic expectations goes a long way.
We no longer live in a world where employers can usurp their responsibility to care for and provide additional means of support to workers beyond financial. Last week, Google formed the first ever tech worker union of its kind, indicating that the pandemic will bring lasting changes to how people view their relationships with their employers. We are witnessing an evolving definition of employee care and compensation that includes a high quality work culture and standard for communication and support.
If you know off the bat that this is an important expectation, and that it informs how society views your company, building a comprehensive employee-care plan is a no-brainer. And no, extending a gym membership does not quite cut it these days. Moving forward in 2021 and beyond, we will see companies build even more competitive benefit packages. As a way to counter act recent changes and provide re-invented employee “perks,” they may include mental health support programs, wellness initiatives, family leave and other health benefit policies, flexible hours policies, equity, learning and development opportunities, and more.
Finally, when employees do come back to the office, managers will have new challenges to tackle. Leaders will have to be even more sensitive to personal boundaries about safety, and strengthen their interpersonal skills. For this reason, there is value in training managers in subjects like conflict resolution, crisis management, effective communication, and coaching and engaging employees. No one has had experience with our current reality, so we must learn as we go.
So avoid getting stuck on the hamster wheel of just training your new employees. In essence, future proofing your organization calls for viewing it as a clock, or living ecosystem, where all the moving pieces have to work well for it to function properly. Providing professional opportunities for your leaders to learn and have their own support while navigating the post-COVID workplace goes back to the idea of a holistic approach to future planning. Build mentorship relationships and frequently ask your team for their input. This will establish a flourishing system of trust, communication, and motivation for everyone.
In the long run, companies that will have the most success are those that focus on what they can control. Find resilience in flexibility. Repositioning your organization for making quick decisions and offering a range of services in response to changes in the market will give you a leg up on competitors. Aim to be proactive, instead of reactive, and imagine potential solutions for problems that may arise.
Renovate your strategic approach, fund training and innovation on your teams, and get comfortable with trying new things to achieve new heights. Read more of our insights on planning for recovery here.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!