Collectively, they identified three key areas of challenge: people, customers and leadership. The disruption in those areas points to a fourth theme: the foundations of a ‘new normal’ that will emerge once the pandemic is over. Daniela Seabrook, CHRO of Philips, Rainer Strack, Managing Director from BCG, Cristina Wilbur, CHRO of Roche & Alain Dehaze, CEO of the Adecco Group.
“People first” has been the Adecco Group’s guiding principle through the crisis, Dehaze said. He said that every decision has been focused on insuring that staff were safe, healthy and looked after. The other panelists agreed with this central focus.
“We have a triple duty of care,” said Seabrook, ” to employees, customers and to protecting the business.” She added that Philips’ most recent employee engagement survey had the most positive results ever, which the company was keen to sustain. Philips has learned from colleagues in China, where the virus hit first.
At Roche, Wilbur said, people stay very connected leveraging all available technologies – for example via interactive town halls or small coffee meetings. A global recognition program is used to send ‘thank you’ messages to deserving colleagues as a sign of appreciation. She added that it is important to take what has been positive about the current changes and to bring that into our normal way of working. This appreciation culture, said Strack, is good for staff morale and attractive to potential employees. He said companies should seek to build on this after the pandemic.
Strack identified several areas where disruption responses could be the seed of future initiatives, including emphasizing employee wellbeing as a key value, and creating a purpose-driven culture.
It’s important to not only look inwards, panelists agreed. Wilbur said that amid the current economic challenges caused by COVID-19, Roche is focusing on the future and on its purpose of improving people’s health.
Companies must look up and down the value chain to see how they can help suppliers and customers. Dehaze said many of the Adecco Group’s customers are facing extraordinary challenges. Some must lay-off workers as business contracts, while others, such as those supplying essential services, are scaling-up as demand escalates.
Seabrook said that, as a company that works in both technology and healthcare, Philips had looked for ways to meet critical needs, such as pivoting production to make ventilators.
She added that the shift in how people work and socialise during the pandemic is likely to lead to new opportunities for business, particularly in technology, because many consumers and B2B customers will change their behavior once things return to normal.