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The leadership challenges facing business executives

by Sellick Partnership | 14 May 2021

The events of the last 18 months have fundamentally changed the way many businesses operate, and it is clear that this period of rapid change and evolution will continue. 

As the economy reopens once again, business leaders must continue to support employees returning to the office and plot a pathway to renewed recovery and growth, while continuing to adapt to the unique circumstances that we find ourselves in. 

With this in mind, we have outlined what we believe to be some of the most significant challenges facing senior leadership today and how we expect the business community to approach them.  

COVID-19 recovery 

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest challenges that senior executives and board members will need to approach over the coming months is responding to the issues associated with the pandemic and mapping out how their organisations will recover. 

With new challenges and pressures to manage, it will be more important than ever to ensure that organisations adopt a flexible, adaptable and agile planning approach, allowing them to react quickly to changing circumstances. Key to this will be the ability to effectively prioritise the long and short-term priorities of any given situation.

With the roadmap out of lockdown well underway and staff anticipated to return to the office in the coming months, it will be important that senior management is able to clearly outline the measures being taken to keep employees safe. 

COVID-19 recovery should not just be looked at from the perspective of business recovery, as staff motivation and wellbeing also need to be a key focus. Empathy and patience will be important to help ensure that staff who have spent over a year working remotely still feel valued by and connected to their colleagues.

Employee engagement and wellbeing 

Many organisations have made difficult decisions in order to weather the pandemic, from furloughing staff to redundancies. As business returns to normal, a renewed focus on employee wellbeing and restoring a sense of positivity across the workforce will be crucial, as will improving engagement and avoiding the risk of burnout.

As Deloitte notes, far from being a HR issue, employee wellbeing and engagement is a business issue that should be addressed by upper management. With staff being any organisation's greatest resource, it is vital that they are kept front of mind as businesses look to map out their recovery response.

The planned return to the office therefore provides a fantastic opportunity for business leaders to reconsider their current standard practices. In addition to taking steps to make their working environments as safe as possible, forward-thinking employers should be looking to implement new policies that will support staff and help bridge the work-home gap.

The pandemic has allowed many employees to work from home and many hope to continue when offices reopen, desiring greater flexibility and a better work-life balance to accommodate their families. Embracing a hybrid approach, with a mixture of in-office and remote working, is a great way for businesses to mark themselves out as attractive employers post-pandemic. 

Managing the implementation of new technologies

Unlike at the beginning of the pandemic, senior management now have the time to plan and budget for new technology and collaboration tools that can help their businesses to function effectively in a mixed working environment. 

With remote working now becoming commonplace and candidates expecting to have more flexibility in how and where they work, it is vital for organisations to develop long-term strategies to ensure the success of this new working model. 

Investing in new technologies and managing their implementation is going to be a key focus moving forward. Those in senior management positions should lead by example and be willing to adapt new systems and procedures. By doing so, they will reap a whole host of benefits, from streamlining their organisational workflow to ensuring better communication across the business. 

The reality of Brexit 

Britain leaving the EU is now a reality, and post-Brexit plans have already been tested, creating new administrative and legislative burdens for businesses to navigate. 

These unfamiliar new hurdles have already had a financial impact on businesses across all sectors, who have had to invest in additional resources to manage the new regulations and unresolved issues. 
The introduction of additional red tape has already resulted in many organisations experiencing a breakdown in their supply chain. These additional compliance procedures have forced some business leaders to reconsider established processes and practices, particularly for organisations that have not previously traded with non-EU countries. 

The end of freedom of movement has also created an additional challenge for businesses looking to recruit the best talent. As such, many are currently going through the process of considering what business travel and secondments will look like when the world reopens. 

Organisations who want to continue recruiting internationally need to ensure they have the resources available to navigate a range of specific immigration and visa requirements, as well as a clear process for obtaining right-to-work evidence. 

As a market-leading professional services recruitment specialist, Sellick Partnership is well placed to help you secure your next senior management position. If you would be interested in learning more about what we can do for you to get in touch, our expert team of recruitment consultants would be more than happy to discuss next steps. You can also search our current jobs here