Employers Getting Ready for the New Normal

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With projections forecasting that most Americans who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to get their shots by mid-summer, optimism has risen that life and business will return to normal soon afterward. However, with forecasts that more Americans will be working remotely and other studies showing that consumers will be more safety conscious in the future, what can employers do to prepare for the new normal?

Some observers might point to August 2019 as the start when the Business Roundtable struck down its long-standing philosophy that corporations maximize their profits for shareholders over anyone or anything else. The Business Roundtable is composed of executives from 192 of the largest corporations in the U.S. In making this landmark change, the group said corporations must balance the needs of their employees, customers, local communities, and suppliers along with those of their shareholders.

One finding coming out of the pandemic is that more consumers wish to be empowered and included in brand conversations. It’s an excellent time for companies to reassess and perhaps redraw and/or strengthen their identity. Things to consider are taking and making clear statements on the brand’s purpose, value creation, and people culture.

An 82% of U.S. employees surveyed in April 2020, McKinsey acknowledged the importance of organizational purpose. Yet, just a little more than half (42%) admitted that the purpose drove impact. This “why” of work is important today as earlier articles pointed out how many millennials and Gen Zers don’t even consider applying for jobs at companies whose values they don’t agree with.

Employees who identify with and know the company purpose feel more connected, proud, and stay longer. They’re also the brand’s best ambassadors. The same McKinsey study showed that employees who are “living their purpose” at work register quadruple the engagement rate of those who don’t.

Creating value by crafting a strategy that differentiates the brand from others is another worthy consideration. What can help it accelerate should also be included. By creating an infographic that includes all staff and separates these ambitions into the different units, product lines, and localities, employees can get a clearer picture of how and where value is created in the company as well as the important role each of them plays.

As events of 2020 demonstrated, a company’s culture is ever so important. A separate organizational health study (OHI) by McKinsey revealed that strong cultures in companies allow them to outperform the competition over a long period. It reported that EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) at healthy companies was 18% higher than that of companies with low organizational health.

In assessing return to shareholders, McKinsey reported that good organizational health contributed three times more than low health companies. Similarly, the ROIC (return on invested capital) was twice as high at companies with good organizational health. Good culture makes sense and can make a tremendous difference.

Work practices that stand out are helpful but not a necessity. Well-defined principles and things like active listening build a cohesive and loyal workforce. By creating a culture in which everyone thrives, brands have a foundation that will successfully progress into the new normal.

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