“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination,” said American entertainer and businessperson Jimmy Dean. Since the pandemic, most experts say brands must also do the same to thrive, much less survive.
COVID-19 and the recession have already rained adverse effects on millions of people and thousands of companies globally. 2021 will be a turning point for numerous others and, for brands, it will largely depend on how they adapt to these changes. Prior to the pandemic, Gen Z was poised to begin stepping in to take over management roles at many companies. But in March, they registered the highest number of either laid off or salary cut employees of any generation at 50 percent. That compares to 40 percent millennials, 36 percent Gen X, and 25 percent boomer, according to O.C Tanner Institute, research arm of the company with the same name specializing in employee recognition and training.
Success in 2021
Two major factors will drive success in 2021: the quality of a brand’s talent pool and how the brand adapts to the post-pandemic era. Tanner conducts annual surveys to gauge workplace cultural health and attitudes.
In its latest survey of more than 40,000 executives and workers from 20 countries between March and June 2020, Tanner found that, in spite of increases over the past two years, this time there were declines in all six of the categories it measures—organizational purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing, and leadership.
What to do
More brands have stepped up their equality and diversity programs in response to recent events. Prioritizing their employees, improving tech systems, adapting marketing and public relationsprograms in response to changes in consumer shopping, and connecting more frequently and openly with employees position these brands to navigate more successfully through yet unchartered waters and achieve their goals. Here are more suggestions.
As marketer Alexei Orlov recently noted, “Employees need to feel connected with their employer. Not only does this go to the profit-making aspect he/she contributes to, but also any other purposes and beneficial experiences relative to why the brand exists. It’s easy for green companies and health-related brands to explain it. Others that can verbalize their purpose beyond making a profit will discover messages that resonate not only with employees, but also with consumers.”
Far beyond the promise of pay rises or even possible promotions, this goes to the opportunity to develop new skills and learn new techniques. It also means being given a voice within the organization, as well as preparing and empowering employees to make decisions.
Success that’s nurtured and attainable as an individual, team and organizational level foster a positive environment. Leaders can encourage this by removing barriers and celebrating both small and big victories.
Today, more than ever with more employees working remotely, employees need to feel appreciated. Timely, meaningful and personal recognition often accomplish more than a bigger paycheck.
As mentioned earlier, recent events as well as more remote working make it more important for employers to foster, encourage and communicate an environment of inclusivity, wellbeing, and a healthy work/life balance.
The five categories don’t mean much and won’t get anywhere without leadership that encourages and nurtures its people. But through mentoring, coaching and a shared purpose, individuals and teams will thrive under good leadership.