Executive Forum 2021: A Virtual Delight
After attending SIA’s Executive Forum this week, it’s clear that there are three resounding themes leaders in our space are focused on:
- The long-term impact of Covid-19
- Digital transformation
- Diversity + Inclusion
We now know that the way we work has forever been changed. The pandemic forced us to re-examine long-held beliefs that working remote could impact productivity, culture, and growth.
As Aditi Consulting's CEO, Raja Narayana, mentioned before, those worries have been assuaged, mainly because of the resiliency so many have shown during this time period. Barry Asin, SIA President, mentioned in his keynote, that U.S, staffing revenue is forecast to grow 12% in 2021 after falling 17% in 2020. And while the economy will continue grow, he said, work from home appears likely to remain in some form. (Only 2% of temps worked remotely before the pandemic and now it’s 50%.) According to recent PwC study, 83% of employers said their shift to remote work was successful because of the pandemic, with 71% of employees reporting the same.
While remote work has been successful, there are also a number of direct implications to consider, such as investing in tools, IT infrastructure and training to facilitate a productive, collaborative work environment. Because of these implications, many companies were forced to accelerate their digital transformations. Spend is up significantly–– global spending on digital transformation technologies and services was forecasted to grow 10.4% in 2020 to $1.3 trillion––which is, yes, a great sign for the economy, but also a sign that companies realize that in order to perform in this new world, they must be tools and technology ready. A great example is Aya Healthcare who added a technology platform during the pandemic to help automate the staffing process. The firm itself grew from less than 5,000 clinicians on assignment before the pandemic to over 20,000 on assignment now.
As Aya Healthcare clearly demonstrated, platform adoption must drive organizational and process change as well, or the investment will have very little return. At the end of the day, if there’s little to no executive level sponsorship and goals, or performance metrics that reflect the updated processes, the digital transformation itself will stall out.
Another theme which was at the forefront of conversations this week was diversity and inclusion. Now is the time for companies to step up and ensure diversity and inclusion programs are part of their core value and culture systems. Over 3 million women were forced out of the workforce during the pandemic, and without a clear path welcoming them back into the fold post-pandemic, companies will lose out on key talent opportunities (special shout out to the Mom Project's Allison Robinson for her valuable insights on a panel discussion!). In addition, technology can help remove unconscious bias in hiring, thus making another case for organizations to accelerate digital transformation and technology adoption. If we know better but don’t do better, we’re part of the problem.
Overall, the week was filled with insightful conversations, and despite being 100% virtual, provided attendees with an opportunity to dig deep into the larger issues our industry faces.
If you attended Executive Forum this week, I’d love to know – what were some of your key takeaways?