The businesses need to build behavioural competencies in its employees to help them meet the needs of an evolving business landscape Recovery is a long journey in unchartered waters, where previous routes might not be relevant anymore. This aptly applies to today’s COVID times where the pandemic brought a substantial change in the fabric of the marketplace and businesses are finding new ways to outmanoeuvre the uncertainties and fit into the new normal.

How the marketplace has evolved over the past few months

The pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the world as we know it. We are living differently, buying differently, and in many ways, even thinking differently. Consumers across the globe have been pushed out of their normal routines – like migrating to online shopping, using leisure time to e-learn, spend more time with family instead of going out for grocery shopping, to socialize or travel to new places.

Consumers across the globe are looking at products and brands through a new lens. As per Accenture Covid-19 consumer research, customer priorities are now focussed on the most basic needs with high demand for staples, hygiene and cleaning while non-essential categories have seen a major dip. This has put industries like hospitality, aviation, automotive and retail in deep financial stress with negligible consumer demand.

How are businesses meeting the needs of the new normal

Many businesses across industries have been able to turn the current challenges into opportunities by transforming themselves to not only ensure business continuity but also support the society through its products and services during this tough period.

For example, food delivery firms have started delivery services to pick and drop packages, essential goods to curb the surge of Covid-19. Many posh, 5 star hotels and resorts are now serving as quarantine facilities. Airline companies are offering private jets and chartered flight services to its clients and apparel brands are providing one-on-one virtual shopping experience to its clients. These changes in the way of working are here to stay and businesses will need to continue their focus on staying relevant with the evolving marketplace.

New skills and competencies to succeed in the new marketplace

Today businesses are pivoting to find new ways to reach the customer, analyse the changing market trends, innovate to develop new product lines catering to new trends, customise strategies to market and sell its products and strengthen their supply chain. They will need to bolster their capabilities in the area of Research and Development, Digital Marketing and Supply Chain Management to name a few.

Simultaneously, they will need to build behavioural competencies in their employees to help them meet the needs of an evolving business landscape and this will in turn support the organization gain a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic environment. With this view in mind, we at Marching Sheep launched a Pulse Survey to identify the key skills and competencies required for the successful transition of the workforce in the current scenario. Basis the results, top 5 behavioural competencies which businesses should focus on include:

1. Agility and Responsiveness

As organizations are embracing the impact of the changes in terms of behaviours, priorities, and way of working, being agile and responsive has become very important for individuals as well as organizations. It is supercritical for them to respond to changes quickly – in the way they design, communicate, build and run the experiences that customers need and want and stay relevant in the marketplace. This will need an open mindset to experiment, take risks and learn from failures.

2. Emotional Resilience
With professional and personal boundaries blurring given the current remote working environment, maintaining a work-life balance between has been an articulated cause for stress and anxiety. To add to that the uncertainty around jobs, financial stability, business continuity. In these situations, it is critical to building emotional resilience – the ability to bounce back from challenging situations, the ability to stay calm and positive, handle stress constructively, and channelize emotions for desired behavioural outcomes. This is a life skill that needs to be built in teams and individuals because if anything is constant, its the change.

3. Building Collaborative Relationships
Working remotely brings in its unique challenges of managing teams, making them work together on projects, making them feel included which were easily taken care of otherwise through in-person connects, sharing common goals and beliefs. Hence, there is a need to put in extra effort and focus on building and nurturing collaborative relationships amongst team members. Making teams stay connected, encouraging teamwork, supporting each other, complementing each other, building a sense that we all are in this together and making employees less anxious about the unknown.

4. Change Management
This is the time for organizations and employees to click the reset button, to upskill themselves, be prepared to leave the old behind, and transform to cope with the changes this current crisis is presenting. This is key to stay relevant and competitive with the evolving ecosystem. Building change management capabilities among leaders and managers, to be able to handle the change as painlessly and seamlessly as possible will be key to how quickly businesses get on the path of recovery.

5. Flexibility and Adaptability
Employees need to be ready to adjust to changing times, The key to survival today is to be open to change, be ready to accept the new normal which could be in the form of remote working, virtual learning, or following social distancing norms. This will help them quickly adjust to “change” which will continue to be an important element of the new normal. Even though work from home has been around for some time, many organisations stayed away from it steadfastly till the pandemic forced it on us. And now most organisations are strengthening their IT systems and way of working to ensure that a large number of their workforce continues to work from home even as things normalise. They are perceiving cost benefits of the same. The current VUCA 2.0 will need both organisations and individuals to pre-empt the evolving needs and be ready to adapt.

We all realise that the COVID-19 pandemic has been more than an unprecedented disruption, with long-lasting consequences on individuals and businesses across the globe. These unique times demand unique answers and with the right skills and capabilities organizations will be able to recover, evolve, and successfully come out of this situation stronger and better.