The current pandemic has forced businesses of all sizes to re-evaluate their operating models and implement new strategies to maintain success and drive growth in a rapidly evolving environment. 

A number of Indiana businesses, particularly those in hospitality and tourism, have faced significant challenges amidst continued health and safety concerns around COVID-19. Meanwhile, certain sectors that normally experience downturns during times of economic volatility—including Indiana’s RV and boating industry—are seeing historically high demand with consumers’ desire to remain closer to home.

No matter the industry, there are certain actions that business leaders can take to help their companies survive—and also thrive—during this continued disruption. The most effective strategies include embracing digitization, preparing the business for future disruptions and doubling down on supporting and retaining talent.

Leaning in to digitization

Businesses’ adoption of technology has been steadily increasing over the years, but COVID-19 rapidly accelerated leaders’ implementation of digital tools to remain operational, stay competitive and create greater efficiencies during a time when businesses are grappling with tighter resources than ever before.

In fact, JPMorgan Chase’s Business Leaders Outlook Pulse Survey found that more than 50% of business leaders have shifted their business models to be more online or plan to do so. Businesses that prioritize engaging with their customers digitally have been able to minimize disruptions to their operations and even find opportunities for growth by reaching new consumers through targeted, online sales channels.

Today’s successful businesses are also harnessing digital financial solutions, such as real-time banking, payments and cash flow tools. Many leaders implemented these tools out of necessity, but are already seeing their long-term benefits in driving efficiencies and simplifying management of financial operations.

Creating business models with a greater focus on adaptability and resiliency

Early disruptions caused by the pandemic taught business leaders about the importance of being flexible and proactively creating a resiliency plan for a range of worst case scenarios. More than half of businesses have made changes to their operating models or plan to do so permanently, indicating that business leaders are taking bold actions to safeguard their operations in today’s unpredictable environment.

For example, several local businesses have adapted their manufacturing capabilities to respond to new COVID-19 related demands, including an increased need for PPE and ventilators. Others have shifted their supply chains and tailored operations to address shifts in consumer preferences and spending habits.

With an increase in online activity, cybersecurity is one of the most important tenets to ensure business resiliency. Business leaders across the nation, including those in Indiana, are seeing increased instances of business email compromise, ransomware attacks and phishing attempts. It’s more critical than ever to educate employees on how they can spot, respond to and escalate suspicious activity, which is the first line of defense for protecting the organization from costly and disruptive cybersecurity attacks.

Helping employees thrive in an evolving ‘new normal’

Talent remains the most critical component of any organization’s success, and we are seeing a number of clients that are helping to further engage and retain their employees by increasing resources to support their responsibilities outside of work and providing them with flexibility based on unique circumstances.

Business leaders find themselves in uncharted territory with the current pandemic, and nobody has yet figured out the perfect formula for retaining and attracting talent in this new environment. The key to a strong talent base will be to continue listening to employees’ rapidly evolving needs, remaining flexible and open to adjusting long-standing policies and implementing new incentives to maintain engagement.

Businesses have faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic, but they’ve continued to demonstrate resiliency, optimism and their ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. In fact, the majority expect to not only survive but thrive, and around half anticipate their companies to return to normal by the summer of 2021. While society treks toward a return to normal, business leaders should use this moment to reevaluate their strategies and position themselves for success for years to come.

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