2020 will go down as the most difficult year many of us will face as business owners and leaders.
Like other companies during the early days of Covid-19, we didn’t know what the future held and needed to figure out how to survive in real time. We had to quickly adjust or reconfigure literally every aspect of our operation, multiple times, based on the status of the global pandemic. Fortunately, thanks to the adaptability of our team and partnerships with our clients, we ended the year in a good position.
While uncertainty remains about what the coming months might hold, the new year is a time for optimism and enthusiasm. Companies have adopted new ways of working and doing business and are much more prepared to quickly respond to changing conditions. In fact, the learnings from last year will continue to inform business, operations and culture at most companies in 2021.
Here are three takeaways from our experience of managing through 2020.
The strength of multi-generational teams. At our company, the average age of employees is 30. That means many of our team members did not experience 9/11 or the financial crisis of 2008, the two events that come closest to the devastating impact that COVID-19 had on the economy and our way of life.
As a result, a good percentage of our workforce did not have a frame of reference or context to draw on when COVID-19 took hold. Team members who are several decades into their careers played a critical role in helping and mentoring their younger colleagues who had never worked through a period of such major change and disruption. Moving forward, we plan to fully leverage the benefits of multi-generational collaboration within our organization.
The necessity of technology. Investments in IT infrastructure and software that we’d made previously were essential to our ability to make it through 2020. Because of technology, we were able to not only seamlessly move to remote work, virtual interviews and other functions that needed to be conducted online, but also to more quickly source and place candidates as clients’ needs fluctuated throughout the year. Technology provides staffing firms with the flexibility to meet a wide range of client needs, from completing large orders in a short time frame to finding candidates with just the right mix of experience and credentials.
Realizing the full value of technology requires more than installing and using it; people need to fully embrace technology. While that happened out of necessity in 2020, it’s always a good idea to put in place an employee training plan that both demonstrates how the new technology works and the ways it improves the customer experience. It’s common for reps to be concerned about losing personal connections with clients and candidates as technology plays a greater role, so taking steps to alleviate those concerns is especially important.
The value of determination. A strong orientation toward customer service, collaboration, and teamwork have long been characteristics we seek in our employees. 2020 required all of that and more, especially a can-do mindset coupled with a fierce resolve to succeed. Going forward, these traits will be more important than ever.
This past year was a stark reminder of just how much that affects any company is out of its control. Focusing and expanding on many of the things we did to make it through 2020 will set us up for ongoing, sustainable success in the new year and beyond. Here’s to a great 2021!