8 business challenges that will shape year 2 of COVID-19

p 1 90607469 8 challenges for business leaders that will shape year two of covid


Company boards and government groups are usually thought of efficient if they can assist a business navigate a world disaster in parallel with sustaining day-to-day operations. If solely the bar was as easy and set so low proper now.

As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the intersection of the continued financial disaster, the persevering with pandemic, the social justice motion, and rising inequality are simply the quick checklist of what leaders have to acknowledge, handle—and assist to resolve. We gathered a gaggle of company popularity strategists who’ve spent the final year serving to corporations handle some of a very powerful and central points surrounding COVID-19 to determine key challenges company leaders will possible face on this second year of pandemic response.

Whereas corporations will proceed to take care of the pandemic head-on, we consider they will additionally need to navigate by means of two macro traits. First, with the very notion of “regular” now an unknown and shifting goal, firm leaders will be anticipated to each outline—after which defend their choices—about what their new regular is. And second, as deepening socioeconomic divides proceed to create new classes of haves and have-nots—who will get COVID-19, who will get the vaccine, who retains their job—corporations will be compelled to look at their very own function in creating these divides whereas going through the general public’s expectation that they assist mend them.


Leaders will have to think about ahead reasonably than look to playbooks of the previous. Listed below are eight challenges on the horizon for corporations.

(*8*)1: As corporations look to “construct again higher,” the query will be higher for whom?

“Construct again higher” represents the Biden group’s financial restoration plan for American staff, pledging to “create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs” and to “deal with American staff and dealing households as important always, not simply instances of disaster.” However the hope for the American economic system to be rebuilt in a extra equitable method will be met with the fact that the unconventional modifications in how corporations labored in the course of the pandemic will proceed effectively previous the pandemic’s finish. Pandemic-necessitated automation is right here to remain; a need for comfort will stop a return to pre-COVID-19 shopper behaviors, and transitioning staff will want a brand new champion. American companies have a possibility to fill this void.

(*8*)2: The collapse of Foremost Avenue and small companies will speed up company reckoning over rising wealth inequality

Whereas the inventory market has rebounded from early pandemic losses and lots of massive firms have reaped file earnings, hundreds of thousands of American staff stay unemployed and over 100,000 small companies have completely shuttered. With their dedication to the well-publicized Business Roundtable pledge serving as backdrop to the pandemic’s uneven devastation, corporations will be held to account for his or her half in constructing an economic system that doesn’t serve all Individuals and put together for a extra simply future.

(*8*)3: A everlasting shift to working from residence units the situations for reducing worker loyalty and rising worker activism

Many U.S. workplace staff who discovered themselves abruptly working from residence within the curiosity of public well being have now internalized work location flexibility as an anticipated profit in a post-COVID-19 work surroundings. Corporations wishing to retain and appeal to high expertise will don’t have any alternative however to codify some degree of office flexibility, whilst this shift away from central work areas will require repairs to weakened firm tradition and office connections that gasoline worker engagement and retention.

(*8*)4: The therapy of and reliance on important staff all through the pandemic will result in a reemergence of the labor motion in the course of the early days of the Biden administration

Individuals have relied on “important staff” all through the pandemic to supply very important providers—together with well being care, emergency providers, meals manufacturing, transportation, and supply—that enabled the U.S. economic system to maintain working. However the therapy of frontline staff has been a selected problem, as many have labored with out fundamental protections equivalent to private protecting gear, paid sick depart, will increase in pay, or job safety—and that is on high of many of these jobs being low wage to start with. Because the pandemic stretches right into a second year and a brand new administration takes over, higher pay and protections for important staff will be extra of a precedence than they’ve been to this point.

(*8*)5: Corporations—and managers—will have to face America’s deteriorating psychological well being because it continues to immediately influence the office

The results of long-term isolation, decreased entry to psychological well being providers, the stress of managing the calls for of work and residential life, and the financial challenges individuals have confronted, are only a few of many challenges COVID-19 will depart in its wake. The pandemic’s psychological well being toll will proceed having actual implications for the way companies function. Within the close to time period, employers will be anticipated to proceed investing time and sources into workers’ psychological well being. Over the long run, corporations will finally be required to handle the expertise pipeline results of this era whose expertise in the course of the pandemic will have a long-lasting influence on their values, outlooks, and skillset.


(*8*)6: Social justice points will keep entrance and heart. Corporations will face strain to ship past commitments made in 2020.

The disproportionate harm executed to Black and Hispanic communities by COVID-19 will proceed to floor systemic inequality in our society. The a long time of mistreatment by the healthcare system that has led Black Individuals to pervasive distrust of the healthcare trade and elevated COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy will imply vaccination insurance policies could have disproportionate exclusionary influence on individuals of colour. Past well being, a considerably bigger share of Black-owned small companies have gone out of business, and colleges the place a majority of college students are non-white are much less prone to be geared up with the sources and infrastructure to assist digital or secure in-person college. All of these points will contribute to short- and long-term fairness points, requiring quick intervention and presenting a lane for corporations to spend money on near- and long-term options.

(*8*)7: The disappearance of ladies from the workforce will worsen, undermining variety, wiping out hard-fought positive aspects in management and pay fairness, and robbing the longer term expertise pipeline of feminine leaders.

Ahead-looking corporations have labored laborious to distinguish within the space of gender variety, investing closely in attracting, retaining, and selling ladies; and setting government key efficiency indicators, sustainability objectives, and public commitments associated to advancing ladies of their workforces. Pandemic burdens being shouldered by ladies, particularly, are placing all of these positive aspects in danger. Think about: childcare duties proceed to derail workdays, for all mother and father however overwhelmingly for girls; ladies are experiencing a disproportionate quantity of COVID-19 job losses; and COVID-19 economics exacerbate normal gender obstacles, just like the gender pay hole and charge of promotions. Corporations will have to enact measures to retain expertise and engender loyalty to stay aggressive now and shield ladies leaders for his or her management pipeline.

(*8*)8: Divergent expectations and lack of societal norms across the return to each work and play will create important battle that companies will be compelled to mediate.

Having the ability to take pleasure in each other’s firm in individual once more is one of the milestones most coveted by the general public. Sadly, there will be no magic second at which that milestone is achieved. Individuals will have vastly totally different views on when particular actions will be secure once more, and below what circumstances, and companies will be among the many main navigators of plotting the course again collectively. Questions and considerations associated to the COVID-19 vaccine will transfer from the realm of public well being to the realm of staff on the entrance line of companies; and corporations will be ready to set and implement their very own, customized community of security rules whilst authorities security mandates begin to ease. Being within the center of “quick” and “sluggish” is a violent place to be in phrases of popularity and will current short- and long-term challenges for corporations.

these challenges with year two of COVID-19 in view, it’s clear that company leaders should account for a large number of ofttimes competing expectations from a fancy internet of stakeholders: workers, clients, communities, authorities, NGOs, local weather activists, and social champions. All of them see business as essential to shaping a path forward that works for a lot of. The challenges for a business chief—and the chance for them to make an actual, optimistic and long-lasting change in the event that they get it proper—have by no means been better.

Denise Brien and Robert Fronk are managing administrators for Purple Strategies