3 Key Lessons Learned From Covid-19

October 1, 2020

by Chris Swan and John Ryan

Key findings and insights about what your company can do to conquer the crisis and emerge stronger than before.

How well are American businesses navigating the tidal wave of Covid-19?

We surveyed nearly 100 companies in 10 diverse sectors to assess the response of American companies to the sea of changes triggered by the pandemic. The results are fascinating. Read on to find out the key findings and learn what your company can do to conquer the crisis and emerge stronger than before.

Key results:

1. Remote Work, Works

Could you have imagined being fully productive at your job every day while working at home, which typically requires being glued to your zoom screen while simultaneously minding your kids, dog and elderly parent? In February, most people would likely have resoundingly said no. Our survey shows that around one in five employees worked from home pre-Covid. However, that number will skyrocket to a full 50% after the virus.

Why the shift? Because remote work, works. Zoom and other video meeting applications have proven to be reliable. Employees en masse have gained comfort with digital collaboration and communication tools. Remote work cultures are taking root. And on the bottom line, the virtual world has demonstrated efficiencies in such areas as reduced rent and travel costs. Employees have also seen they can enhance their efficiency with succinct meetings and no commutes. Now that the changes have been so widely adopted, continuing on this new world of work track is a viable option for a substantial number of businesses and we encourage it.

2. Virtual Leaders Need High EQ’s

Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognise and influence the emotions of those around you. The survey shows this matters a great deal to workers in this very disruptive and rapidly changing virtual context. Why?

The upheaval brought by Covid has left many employees still grappling with major emotional challenges. Not being able to physically meet or engage with colleagues is isolating and can impact morale and productivity. As such, employees are changing what they want in their leaders. Increasingly, employees want leaders who truly understand what they are going through. They want a leader who gets on a zoom call in their comfy clothes and kids popping up on the screen because it shows who they really are – even if that means showing vulnerability. They want a leader they can relate to, trust, connect with and is highly empathetic and authentic.

Our advice as experts in executive recruiting is when you are searching for leaders, it is essential they tangibly demonstrate these qualities. As TRANSEARCH leadership advisor John Burdett notes in his book, Tomorrow Will Be Different – Will You, “It has long been assumed that the team worked for the team leader. Moving forward, the leader will work for the team.”

3. People Power Is Paramount

With layoffs, hiring freezes and the onslaught of negative economic news, it would appear companies are generally not investing in their people. The survey does show a fair number of businesses have imposed hiring freezes and reduced their new headcounts, at 28% and 22% respectively. But when we dig deeper into the numbers, there is a clear lesson learned – people are paramount for companies to come out of this crisis stronger.

To that end, when asked about eight different human capital priorities after Covid-19, the results ranged from 25% to nearly 60%, which comparatively speaking, are very high percentages. Most questions posed had at least one answer in the 10-15% range. Most notable were the top priorities – improving agility and flexibility and retaining current talent, both cover 55%. Companies do not want to lose their people and in fact, a full 30% will focus on attracting new talent after the pandemic.

What these results illustrate and what we advise is when developing the talent you have and searching for new talent, focus on highly digitally savvy and dynamic people. To do so, you will need to purposefully hone in on assessing the culture, capabilities and design of your organization today and very precisely, map out a strategy for talent, training and leadership development. This will arm you with the right people – ones who are resilient, adaptable, ready to succeed their predecessors and as a team, fully aligned with one another.

To see the full survey results and learn more, please contact Chris Swan or John Ryan.

This article is © TRANSEARCH USA and was originally published on the TRANSEARCH USA website.

Chris Swan is a Managing Director with TRANSEARCH International, co-founder of the Chicago office, and Global Practice Leader for Design, Construction, Technology and Environmental. He is a top executive search professional in the area of general contracting, environmental consulting, systems integration, cyber-security, digitisation, and new technologies. Firms value Chris' advice because of his understanding of the markets and what it takes to succeed in business. He attracts candidates when others cannot. Get in touch with Chris Swan »

John Ryan is Global Practice Leader for Power, Renewable Energy and Cleantech and US Regional Vice President for TRANSEARCH International. With a career that began in 1989, John has worked with over 250 public and private companies. He has led numerous C-suite, Vice President and director level searches across North America for public and privately held companies. He has also worked closely with private equity firms, supporting them with critical portfolio company needs. He has also provided executive coaching and leadership assessment services. Get in touch with John Ryan »

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