The pandemic could have wiped out everything I worked for in my career, but it didn’t. Avoiding this worst-case scenario in the face of a once-in-a-century (hopefully) pandemic was thanks in large part to embracing one of the simplest, yet most commonly disregarded, truths of the business world: Your most important asset is your people. And getting this one tenet right will have immeasurable benefits for you and your company well beyond the pandemic.
Now, I get it. It sounds like Hallmark-card stuff, right? But hear me out. Tons of CEOs and managers pay lip service to valuing their team, but far fewer actually take actions that would indicate that they believe the words coming out of their mouths — or typed out in their emails. So, what exactly are those actions? How do you put your money where your mouth is when it comes to valuing your people above all else?
Case study: the event industry
The pandemic shook the event industry. No doubt about it. For businesses like ours that leaned on things like air travel and large in-person gatherings, the beginning of 2020 was a bit of a scramble. Anticipating a decrease in business and revenue, many in our industry immediately furloughed or laid off staff to cut costs and just try and survive.
But it took years of painstaking interviews, along with countless investments into resources and training along the way, for our company to build the right team of employees and a strong company culture. And coming off of a record 2019, we had confirmation that our priorities were right where they needed to be.
In the new unfamiliar world brought on by the pandemic, our approach remained steady. That meant getting our representatives trained and certified in virtual events. It meant keeping our core intact, making it clear to employees that their jobs were safe — giving them room to work without that thought hanging over them. And it meant being willing to take a hit financially to do all of this.
A leg up goes a long way during a crisis
As the dust settled for our industry, it became clear that virtual events could be a new way forward through this tough time. Clients planning virtually for the first time sought out partners to navigate them through best practices, and more event-goers than ever enjoyed not having to change out of their sweatpants to “attend” an event. Companies that invested in their employees were well-equipped to handle the influx of new business opportunities. Those who had cut back on their staff were not.
Obviously, this model may not be applicable or 100% possible for every company. But if you’ve read this far into the article, chances are it may be for you. Unlike investing in a stock, pouring resources and dollars into your employees does more than pay dividends from a numbers standpoint; it sends a clear message to each individual that says, “I’m a part of this. My work here matters.” And there’s nothing more valuable than employees who bring this attitude with them to work each day.