The Post Pandemic World – The Board’s Perspective

With the initial disorder and confusion of the coronavirus pandemic  showing signs of subsiding, and businesses transitioning through a faster than predicted technology evolution, many have experienced the facilitation of virtual home working for the first time. Employees are now looking for guidance from their executive boards as to what will happen next. What will the route back to normality look like in 2021 and beyond? What will businesses prioritise? What parts of the former customary processes will be disregarded in future?

At Livingston James we are speaking with business leaders across multiple sectors who are collectively discussing the key factors they believe will successfully shape their organisations for a post pandemic world. In this article, we focus on five core actions from a qualitative board perspective.

Collaboration

The need to promote collaboration and create an environment where employees feel there is a place to present their ideas and experiences to the table is essential.  No longer is it seen to be conducive to make every decision in layers and there has been an increase in reports of C-suite leadership actively looking to include people from different levels of the company in their decision making processes. The resulting factor? A healthy pipeline of innovative and new ideas are produced, as well as the sense that everyone is in this together.

Health and wellbeing

The mental health and wellbeing of our workforces has been gravely impacted by the pandemic. Statistics from Public Health Matters suggest that at least 80% of workers are indicating that their mental health has been affected and as much as 30% have reported sick since March due to burnout and work related stress.

Most leaders are becoming increasingly aware this is a key issue when  considering a post-pandemic return to work. In a recent article, Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior partner at PwC has recently warned fellow bosses to work on the side of caution and make employee mental wellbeing top of the agenda. This correlates to the abundance of new cases of mental health related illnesses taking a hold of employees, as the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions forces many to work from home again. He advises “a healthy workforce is most effective”.

Businesses that pledge to acknowledge mental health will be forefront of their sectors. They will have a more engaged and contented workforce, and notably will be more successful when attracting new talent.

Empower your Employees

Learning new technology can be challenging, especially when under pressure to adapt to a new virtual lifestyle in a short space of time. It’s important that that the Executive leadership team leads by example when adopting new technology and that they take the time to communicate why new systems have been adopted, provide a platform of support, whilst driving a sense of excitement for the change. Employees are far more likely to invest the time to use the latest tools if they understand the time they will save in their day-to-day working lives.

Connect your Actions with Purpose

A 2020 Harvard Business School report, which examined the CEO’s response to the phases of the Post Pandemic world, suggested that the risk for many companies will be losing hope in their ability to do more than move to being a smaller company. However, mobilising their resources in support of the community in a way that is tied to their purpose, even if it’s not completely obvious at first is where they can more easily connect the talent and sense of purpose of their employees to do better than settle for survival. A strong focus on the purpose of the company, as opposed to its existing business model, can promote significant new growth areas and pave way for success.

Consider a Steady and Gradual Recovery

Finally, it is important to reflect and remember that businesses of all shapes and sizes have been massively impacted during the lockdown. As we look to the road to recovery, many C-Suite leaders now believe they have a rare opportunity to make improvements in the ways that they transact. When it was business as usual in 2019 there was less inclination to consider change, and in many cases, it has taken a crisis of this scale to force us to reconsider our preconceptions. If the C-suite can grab this opportunity today, they can rescope their businesses to be stronger, more inclusive, and far more resilient than they were at the beginning of the year.

 

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