The global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was staggering, and there’s little doubt that businesses will have to deal with its effects for some time to come. While some aspects of everyday life and the workplace have returned to more familiar patterns, there have been changes to the ways businesses operate that are more long-lasting — and some are likely to be permanent.
Among the processes companies may need to evolve are their growth strategies. Both customer and employee expectations have changed, and if businesses are to survive, they must respect and address that. Here, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss some smart strategies to embrace for continued growth in a world that’s been changed by the pandemic.
1. Stop waiting for things to ‘get back to normal.’
It’s critical as a leader that you stop thinking that things will “get back to normal.” The workforce evolved during the pandemic, the labor shortage isn’t short-term, and you must be the one to change. It’s time to rethink your workforce, your workstreams and what growth looks like. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners
2. Have open conversations with your entire team.
Authenticity and transparency have long been hot topics — even before the pandemic — but I truly think they’re more relevant now than ever before. If you are not having open conversations with your team and leadership on a consistent basis, I encourage you to start it now, especially if you are all remote and working from home. Employees are struggling to share how they are really feeling, so proactively reconnect with them. – Cindy Lo, RED VELVET
3. Create a culture of opportunity.
Try to look for talent in unusual places. There are many people out there looking for opportunities to thrive in a new career — they just lack the opportunity or network to make it happen. Look for ways to train and inspire the people already working for you, as well as those who have the core elements of success and are being overlooked by others. Surround yourself with a culture of opportunity. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology
4. Consider employees’ new needs and wants.
While employee recruitment is an obvious priority, employee retention is more nuanced, especially during the “Great Resignation.” In particular, employee needs and wants have changed due to the pandemic. Flexible work schedules and remote employees are the new normal, but provide opportunities, not just challenges. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.
5. Align your strategy with your customers’ new direction.
With all change comes opportunity. The way people buy, the vendors they use, their priorities and more have all changed. This provides a great opportunity to take advantage of that change. Talk to your current customers as though they were brand-new, and align your strategy with their new direction. Understand the major trends of your target market and create strategies to address their changing needs. – Gary Braun, Pivotal Advisors, LLC
6. Always be hiring.
I am a big proponent of the ABH mentality, and it has never been more relevant than right now. The workforce has been greatly diminished, to the extent that making a quick hire of a qualified person is not as easy as it once was. Having a solid pool of people you have curated at any time is an asset for your future. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
7. Ensure new hires are serious about working with you.
Continue to pivot when needed, and get comfortable with constant change. Something we have had to change recently is our hiring patterns and how we manage our hiring cohorts to ensure that the people who are getting in the door are serious about their new roles with us. There will be some give and take, but our values need to align. – Mackenzie Toland, A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC
8. Enable remote operations.
As digital transformation accelerates, it’s smart to ensure your business, people and products can operate remotely and in a digital environment. Make sure you’re providing self-service and online access to your products and services. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
9. Look for ways to be more nimble.
The No. 1 growth strategy today is the same as always: Be nimble! Your greatest opportunity is to think about where you can be nimble. Take a look at such things as your hiring practices, your employee benefits programs and even your own revenue streams. – Janel Laravie, Chacka Marketing
10. Always be ready to change direction.
Have a plan, but use it as a compass, not as a detailed map. One of the biggest lessons we learned from the pandemic is that things can change drastically at any given moment, and only those who stay flexible will be able to move farther and grow. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS