Life decisions and workforce demographics will be an unexpected major force confronting businesses in a post-COVID-19 world. Peter Schumpeter looks ahead in this Economist article and asks what good could come from this upheaval, with two specific examples. Over 30 years in executive recruiting, counseling boards and CEOs on the deployment of human capital, our clients have thrived through multiple peaks and troughs. With this in mind, we have a third mega trend to add that will surely affect your workforce and your business, and why we’re seeing our client companies still recruiting senior executives during COVID-19: the Boomers are opting to retire now, leaving C-Suite boxes empty on your organizational charts.
Your organizational design and business processes are at stake. Specifically those for deployment and use of senior executive talent in a post COVID-19 restructuring/turnaround world.
In uncertain times, successful executives look for opportunity
Crucial decisions with long-lasting effects will be made in these weeks and months to follow. Framing these questions now to take the best decisions possible, despite a high degree of ambiguity, is imperative.
According to Schumpeter, the current crisis will force two beneficial changes on business that CEOs would do well to keep their eyes on: First, obviously technologies are enabling mass remote working. Second, the opportunity to reconfigure already worrisome supply chains. Many negative business impacts are already readily apparent, but these important trends will rapidly accelerate due to COVID-19.
Our clients companies are still recruiting senior executives during COVID-19
Here’s where hiring senior executives during COVID-19 come into play. Consider the departure of long-tenured, C-Suite professionals now choosing to retire. For every high-profile decision to “step down”, there are thousands of conversations happening right now within businesses and families that start with “I’ve decided to call it a career…”
Both opportunity and challenge await in the coming years. However, the deep satisfaction of successfully managing any businesses, big or small, will be low in the post COVID-19 environment. So, consider one’s retirement is at hand, or perhaps its already overdue, in the next 12 to 18 months? The Great Recession halved most of our retirement savings. Demographically speaking, no group of the workforce was more significantly affected than the late Boomers. Men and women with ideas and dreams of retirement from 2009 onward necessarily had to alter those plans significantly. Most decided to place retirement on hold.
Economic recovery after 2008 was marked by a lengthy bull market and steadily growing retirement portfolios. This, coupled with low unemployment, resulted in a large cohort of highly experienced business leaders remaining on the job. Not keen to leave a good party too early, they were nonetheless determined not to take a second monumental setback to their retirement portfolio.
COVID-19 is inflection point that causes late Boomers to make their exit
COVID-19 and its fallout is the inflection point that causes this experienced group to make it’s exit. These weeks of high volatility in a declining market has given members of this group opportunities to shift their portfolio upon the upswings. The market’s equivalent of second- and third- chance “lifeboats” taking away the last of the passengers who need to get off this ride.
This third change is well underway. We’ll see many senior executives take their leave which is why our client companies are recruiting during COVID-19. This will open opportunities for up-and-coming professionals with new ideas and plans for future growth. For companies that are feeling good about their succession planning, this will not add a great level of disruption. However, some companies will be scrambling to find qualified replacements. The war for talent is about to intensify, and when the market turns, we can expect a shotgun start.