Back in January and February, 2020 felt like any other year. But when the global pandemic presented challenges to many company's plans for growth and development, it forced everyone to make some difficult decisions in an attempt to navigate the choppy waters we all suddenly found ourselves in.
In the final month of what's been an incredibly tough year, we asked business leaders across a range of sectors what they've learned over the past 12 months, how they've managed to soldier on through the on-going pandemic, and the ways in which they plan to build on their progress in 2021 and beyond.
Claire Williams, Director of People and Services at CIPHR, a UK-based provider of people management software
"2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. For those of us in HR, we’ve had to take on new responsibilities, put new processes in place, and work closely together with senior leadership to ensure business continuity during these uncertain times.
"At CIPHR, we were quick to introduce new processes around employee absences and sick days; if employees went abroad on holiday, for example, we had them specify which country. We’ve learnt how to stick together as a company during these challenging times, whether through social interactions online or quick check-ins with employees.
"As we approach 2021, we will continue to focus on our employees’ health (both physical and mental) and continue to listen to what our customers and employees need. We are also continuing to work remotely and will ensure everyone has the tools they need to work comfortably from home.”
Alec Dobbie, CEO and co-founder of promotional content and marketing firm FanFinders
"Our strategy this year has been about optimising and aligning the business from top to bottom, which includes everything from overheads right through to how different teams collaborate. It’s so important that everyone was pulling in the same direction.
"As for our clients, like many we’ve adapted our approach to the current climate. If our partners’ growth areas have been in the e-commerce space as opposed to marketing, we have looked to support those specific teams in meeting their goals and needs. As our technology gets better and better, we’ll continue doing this into next year and beyond.
"Another big shift has been in revising our HR and recruitment strategies. We’ve maximised output by finding better ways to monitor performance; there’s also a lot to be said for being able to trust people in a fully remote team. From our perspective, this comes from having a more detailed hiring process, choosing the right, motivated people, and giving them all the resources they need.”
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Cédric Voig, General Manager of specialist communications agency Ballou France
"Covid shone an enormous spotlight on the importance of communication, both internal and external. Off the back of this, I think digital will continue to thrive and will continue to evolve to create immersive experiences in B2B and B2C.
"More than ever, businesses will need to be more agile and take on one strategic, proactive, and creative partner that can fulfil a multiplicity of needs, from marketing and HR to sales departments.
"Pressure on communication and PR will increase and competition will be tough, with companies investing significantly in communications to strengthen their positioning and to take on more market share to increase growth.
"The coronavirus crisis has helped to remind us all of the importance of the team. It has also helped us to become conscious users through working, buying and collaborating with businesses that demonstrate strong values and engagement. Businesses will need to ensure a strong company culture to keep and attract the best people to work with. This will be the era of real communications and real personality. Authenticity is key.”
Adam Townsend, CEO of Gazprom Energy
“As a business that is always reaching for better and aiming to continually improve, we’re constantly evaluating where we’re performing and what strengths we can capitalise on, but also where we can do better. Having the extra time over the winter break gave me the space to facilitate unstructured thinking. I find it beneficial to use this time to reflect on the previous year and challenge myself on things that could have been more successful.
“The importance of continual innovation and technology advancements became even more prominent throughout 2020. Businesses that excelled throughout the last year, are those which are advanced in their digital journey. At Gazprom Energy, our digital advancement will continue to be a core focus moving into 2021, with data and customer excellence being at the heart of our business.
“My business resolutions for the New Year fall across three areas;
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