How are business leaders preparing for 2022?
The current economy presents unique challenges for enterprise leadership. How do you successfully grow a business when faced with supply chain shortages, labor scarcity, inflation, and a persistent pandemic? How do you maintain culture when remote work and hybrid work models are evolving but rapidly becoming the new norm? How do you build human capital resources in this environment?
PI Midlantic reached out to two seasoned CEOs to ask how they are preparing for 2022, how they plan to develop human capital, and how they plan to maintain company culture. We found a few surprises.
Kelly Benefits and Kelly Benefits Payroll
Kelly Benefits and Kelly Benefits Payroll are Baltimore-based providers of benefits administration and payroll management solutions. CEO Frank Kelly III said one of his top challenges is navigating COVID mandates. During lockdown, all but a handful of their 470 employees were remote. Today they have evolved to a model of one-third of employees being in the office daily, one third fully remote and one third on a 2–3-day rotation.
“We are trying to get more people rotating through the office,” Kelly said. “We recognize when you are not physically together you miss something.” They aren’t at a point where they are mandating in office work but navigating this “has been a challenge.”
Like many businesses, Kelly Benefits sees staffing shortages. Some employees left to pursue a dream. Kelly said one 20-year employee, a top employee in finance, left to become a veterinarian’s assistant, a long-deferred dream. “More power to them,” he said.
New attitudes about work
Kelly also sees a change in attitude about work. “There seems to be a more lax attitude about work and attendance” he said. Absenteeism is higher than normal and “there doesn’t seem to be the same respect for the tradition of getting in early or staying late to get the job done.” He also cited a recent training program for ten new hires. Three of them didn’t show up. However, he thinks this attitude is temporary and won’t be the new normal.
Kelly Benefit’s 2022 human capital priorities include hiring, training, and building out their culture. “We have a very strong culture. We have a clear mission, vision, and values. What I want to do is drive it down more throughout the organization.” Kelly Benefit’s culture model has four wellness parts – spiritual, nutritional, financial, and physical. With one third of staff working remote its “difficult to create the same culture feel.”
One strategy is to broaden
adaptation of the culture by rewarding and widely recognizing those who live it out daily. Hiring a Director of Culture and Engagement is also under consideration.
Valcourt Building Services
Valcourt Building Services is a building exterior maintenance and safety company with nearly $200 million in sales and about 1,000 employees. CEO Jeff Valcourt shared how they are preparing for 2022.
“We are hyper focused on recruiting and developing and retaining great teams of people” said Valcourt. “We need to bring in a lot more help because we are buying other companies like us. We doubled the size of the business in the last 11 months. Its hyper critical for us that we develop and retain great teams of people who can run a business that’s growing very fast.” Predictive Index plays a big part in this. “I don’t think we could have done as well growing as we did without Predictive Index” said Valcourt.
Dealing with Labor Shortages
Valcourt’s strategy for dealing with labor shortages has multiple aspects. One is giving key employees equity shares in the company. He finds this reduces attrition significantly. “It’s not as easy as simply increasing pay. That’s a recipe for increasing prices which may not stick or reducing profit margin. I have found over the years its more important to give people recognition, and having people own equity shares”.
Another strategy is making employees feel valued by keeping them informed about how the company is doing and how their branch is doing. Valcourt said “Even the operations people want to see financial reports and I love that. I want to keep everyone informed.” When visiting Valcourt locations, he has two dinners, one with the executives and a second open to any employee. It’s a platform for informing people and answering questions. “Some people say that’s crazy; it will cost you a fortune. But that expense is nothing compared to the cost of having one person quit.”
How do employees react? “They love it. When I show up, they want to know which night we are going out to dinner.” It’s the personal touch. People like to be treated with dignity and respect and understand what’s going on in the company.”
Supply chain kinks and company culture
How is a company that buys everything from building roof safety hardware to trucks to windows dealing with supply chain disruptions? Valcourt said it hasn’t been too bad but when shortages appear they buy well in advance. For example, when expanding office space in Virginia they ran into shortages of desks, chairs, cabinets. They ordered months in advance, even before construction began.
For 2022, Valcourt wants to amplify the company culture. Informing employees is a big part of the culture and treating them with respect. “The way you treat people and the way you put together teams has a much bigger effect on turnover than how much you pay. That sounds crazy. Some people will say ‘it’s all about the pay’. No, it’s not.”
Valcourt also wants to move back to a more high-touch environment throughout the company by holding more face-to-face meetings and fewer video meetings. He doesn’t think video meetings will disappear because they are convenient, but “it will taper off “he predicted.
By Mark Johnson