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How COVID-19 Changed Executive Search Forever

How COVID-19 Changed Executive Recruiting Forever

COVID-19 has changed executive search. COVID-19 has forever transformed executive recruiting as we know it. COVID forced companies to innovate new ways of working. Employers adopted new technologies to collaborate over Zoom and Slack. They also learned they could interview candidates virtually.

Fewer In-Person Interviews

The pandemic has normalized virtual executive search processes. Before COVID, executives had to take personal days off to interview in person with potential new employers who were out of town. Now, most candidates are not forced to travel for interviews in the initial stages. While most finalists still meet face-to-face with the client before an offer is made, Zoom has drastically reduced the travel required of executive candidates.

Less Relocation

Another drastic change is relocation — increasingly, employers no longer require it. Local hiring is less important. The lifting of geographical requirements deepens the candidate pool, making it possible to hire game-changing executives who are not open to relocation. It means fewer families will be uprooted and forced to move — which can be incredibly hard for children and their parents.

Reshuffling of Priorities

The years of living dangerously have changed leaders in fundamental ways. Covid-19 not only changed how we work, it also changed how we feel. Our collective trauma is the unspoken elephant in the room. Leaders are reprioritizing what’s important for them personally and professionally.

Firm Boundaries

As a result, their motivations have shifted. They seem less inclined to sacrifice their family relationships or health by pulling long hours or enduring a toxic work environment. They seem to be drawing a firm boundary to create a safe space from which to work. Ultimately, that may be a good thing.

COVID Impacts on Mental Health

In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, more employers better understand the impact that the workplace has on employees’ mental health. The World Economic Forum reports an estimated 12 billion working days are lost annually to depression and anxiety, costing $1 trillion in lost productivity around the globe. An estimated 20 million days and billions of dollars of productivity are lost in the United States.

Employers have witnessed the consequences of a lack of mental health consciousness in the workplace. The resulting absenteeism and quiet quitting have cost companies dearly. In addition, if companies don’t find better ways to support the mental health needs of their workers, they will fail to recruit and retain the next generation of workers: Generation Z.

Employers can have a positive impact on work and culture. Culture comes from the top, so mental health initiatives must be sponsored by senior leaders. When leaders sponsor those initiatives, it fosters buy-in at all levels. To encourage organizational change, it helps to empower managers to protect their staff’s mental health through training and reward them professionally for doing so.

Gen Z Advocates for Healthier Workplaces

Gen Z expects companies to treat them as “whole people,” not just employees. This generation now entering the workforce is much more willing to discuss mental health and to accept support and services. When their needs go unheard, they are far more likely to quit, citing mental health concerns. Since they represent the next generation of workers, employers are starting to listen and address health and well-being at work.

“Workforce mental health initiatives should go beyond providing individual stress management resources, such as access to on-demand digital therapy platforms. Workplace massages are great, but even better is a workplace culture that encourages people to take a proper lunch break and walk. Resources have value but are no substitute for an environment where people feel safe sharing concerns and showing their fallibility.”

— World Economic Forum

The global pandemic was a seismic event that radically transformed business. It has left executive recruiting much improved. And the changes keep on coming.

Great Leaders Still Make a Difference

The lasting change brought by COVID-19 is continual transformation. It has given us an unprecedented opportunity to become better versions of ourselves. We learned if there ever was a time for great leadership, that time is now. Tomorrow it will be now. The day after it will be now. The pandemic has offered us an extraordinary opportunity to test one’s mettle and to match force with whatever destiny continues to throw our way. To learn more about executive search, check out Is Your Executive Search Firm Ready for Big Data?

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Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford is CEO of the retained executive search firm The Good Search and of its research division Intellerati. A former award-winning television journalist and investigative reporter, Ms. Bradford now pursues truth, justice, and great talent in the executive suite.View Author posts

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