How do you intend to plan your company COVID recovery, do you have a post-COVID leadership strategy in place? And what will this new normal even look like? These questions encapsulate the ambiguity of the next few months and years as we transition to the post-pandemic era.

Business leaders must embrace change and adjust leadership focus in the post-pandemic era. That means different ways of operating, communicating, and shifting attitudes toward work and workplace cultures. But the new reality has seen fresh markets emerge and exciting opportunities to innovate.

So far, leaders have had to navigate the pandemic over two of its three time frames: respond and recover. The final crisis time frame is to thrive. This article looks at five critical areas for leading your company’s COVID recovery as you prepare to find your path through the last phase.

New Challenges for Work in a Post-COVID World

The pandemic crisis hit companies hard and fast, especially female-owned businesses. It forced leaders to adapt rapidly and rethink the very nature of business. The way we work won’t ever be the same, but it will definitely change during the thrive time frame. The question is, how can we make the post-pandemic better?

Optimism Returns to the Boardroom After Life-Altering Impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Business leaders show renewed confidence in their company’s growth potential for products and services. Although the pandemic is still with us—at the time of writing—US companies are highly focused on life beyond it.

In a KPMG survey, 86% of US CEO’s expressed confidence in business growth over the next three years. However, there’s a realization that much has changed, and post-COVID leadership skills must adapt to survive and thrive in the new normal. But to apply the right solutions, you must first identify the shifts created by the pandemic [1].

#1 Adopt A COVID Recovery Mindset

Resilient leaders view post-pandemic recovery as a journey toward a new, more prosperous norm. The best approach for directing your company’s revival plan is through a new way of thinking and a methodical series of actions. And be forever mindful of your company’s purpose and its potential going forward.

Adaptable leaders understand the need for a shift in mindset to replace old thinking. When you adopt a recovery mindset, you are better able to recognize and navigate potential difficulties and implications. It’s vital to reflect in detail before you recommit and re-engage your business.


Reflection is a critical phase of leading your company’s post-pandemic recovery. Revisit the changes you made at the start of the pandemic when you first responded. What worked, what didn’t work, and what have you learned from these experiences? Did you miss something? Be open to different perspectives as you reflect.


Your company should fully recommit to people and operations in a post-coronavirus world. You can view this as a simple checkbox exercise for the following:

  • Attend to the well-being and purpose of staff and company
  • Address physical, mental, and financial concerns
  • Support your workers through their recovery transition
  • Prepare safe, on-site workspaces
  • Offer flexible schedules for workers who need or desire them
  • Communicate directly with your workers and teams

Effective and explicit recommit strategies prevent misunderstandings or confusion on new company priorities, expectations, rules, and goals.


Re-engaging your workforce presents an opportunity to redeploy workers in ways that capitalize on their current contributions and future potential. That means arming your employees with the skills and tools (training and development) needed to accomplish their work. A successful re-engagement strategy will also result in higher retention rates of your talent. 

Here are six best practices for effective COVID recovery employee engagement:

  1. Break down the Us & Them wall; take time to get personally reacquainted with your people
  2. Find new avenues to develop the leadership skills of your top talent and strengthen your pipeline
  3. Regularly communicate updates and adjustment with employees and encourage their feedback
  4. Recognize and reward employees/teams for their hard work and commitment
  5. Empower workers to stretch their capabilities and discover their potential
  6. Host optional and casual social events to help strengthen workplace camaraderie

An engaged workforce is happier, less stressed, and healthier, physically and mentally, thus boosting work performance. Remember, it’s not success that brings happiness; it’s happiness that brings about success [2].

Rethink Everything

Rethink your company’s approach to work, the workforce, and the workplace. Many businesses will need to adjust and replace the rigid structures and dated routines of the pre-pandemic. Instead, consider ways to embrace a new, more agile and resilient workforce. Reevaluate employee compensation, benefits, and perks, and human resource management (HRM).

Rethinking strategies offers opportunities to leverage your company’s experience and the knowledge learned from your COVID-19 response and make changes for continued improvement.Now let’s look at the people side of your recovery program.

Reboot – New Insights into HR Strategies & Priorities

Rebooting is the part of your company’s recovery related to streamlined HR priorities and absolutely necessary for talent acquisition and retention in the post-COVID and post-Great-Resignation era. HR should embrace a redefined role and focus its expertise in five core areas:

  1. Embrace a data-driven approach to source, hire, and develop talent
  2. Acquire predictive analytical skills
  3. Focus on compensation management
  4. Hone in on performance management
  5. Utilize predictive talent analytics

HR leadership and recovery strategies should adapt to meet new challenges for organizing, assisting, and influencing your workforce. They must develop new systems and tactics to navigate the faster, more flexible, digital, post-COVID era.

#2 Address Workers Wants Post-COVID-19

People are the number one resource of every successful business. But as the American work culture has shifted, attracting and retaining top talent has become an enormous challenge for many companies. Responsible leaders must understand what workers want in the post-pandemic world. An empathetic employer and positive work culture remain high priorities, but there’s more.

Work-life Balance, a Top Priority

The attitude and expectations of employees have greatly changed during the pandemic. They want the new normal for Post-COVID workplaces to offer a hybrid model with competitive compensation and increased job flexibility. A McKinsey & Company report found that more than 50% of all employees want to work from home three days a week.

Over 25% of employees surveyed said they would seriously consider switching employers if there was a full return to on-site working. Companies that don’t reassess policies and implement new working arrangements will lose out to those that do. Thus, a combination of on-site and remote working is the way forward for now [3].

Focus on Employee Mental Health

Workers want employers to take mental health issues seriously post-pandemic. More than 75% of survey respondents said mental health support is paramount. Firms with available resources to support mental health and employee burnout are a significant attraction and enjoy higher retention rates [4]. Today’s talent does not want to be treated as a consumable resource by their employer.

A lack of mental health support negatively impacts employers in five areas:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Work-induced anxiety decreases performance and profits
  • Low job satisfaction and workplace morale among sufferers
  • Adverse effect on interpersonal relationships
  • Reduced ability to multitask 
The High Cost of Worker Depression
According to the CDC, companies lose around 200 million workdays to depression each year, costing employers $17-$44 billion in lost revenue[5].

Safe Working Environments Matter

The novel coronavirus has installed fear, depression, anxiety, and stress throughout the population. Unfortunately, this psychological distress is unlikely to disappear for everyone, even when the pandemic becomes endemic. As a result, some workers are sure to worry about the uncertainty and rise of future health crises.

Everyone is much more aware and sensitive to disease transmission due to the past few years. Strive to create safe working environments for on-site workers. This will give them the confidence to return and result in less disruption. Safe working spaces show you are a caring, responsible employer, and that’s a major attraction to potential employees.

Summing Up the Post-COVID Workforce

Employers who meet employee needs and expectations will have a step up in attracting top talent, enjoy higher retention rates, and foster a happier and healthier corporate culture. In addition, post-COVID-19 leadership should place care at its core. Aim to promote autonomy, establish clear boundaries, and focus less on roles and more on skills development.

EWF International offers custom corporate programming including ERG setup assistance, turn-key leadership development programs, one-on-one leadership coaching and more. See our corporate program offerings.

#3 Embrace New Technology

The coronavirus pandemic forced companies to adapt decentralized digital workforce technologies years ahead of schedule. This sudden, broad digital adoption saw a radical change across organization and industry levels. Coronavirus fears and lockdowns pushed consumers to online channels for purchase and customer interaction, and businesses had to respond.In just three years, US consumer digital interactions have gone from 25% to 65% [6].

Don’t Neglect the Human Element in the New Business Climate

Implementing technological solutions into business operations is critical post-COVID, but it should not dominate. US consumers still desire a human touch, so it’s vital not to lose sight of the customer experience. It’s better to find ways where technology can help clients and enhance the personal customer experience rather than replace it. Remember, the post-pandemic consumer has changed a lot these past years. Use technology to research and analyze data to understand shifts and new developments in consumer behavioral patterns. This will help you to reflect on, and reassess, your future purpose.

Seek out holistic technological strategies that support innovation at scale. Done well, this will free your top talent from processes that can be automated so they can focus on efforts that require critical thinking.

#4 Cybersecurity Threats Post-COVID


The new digital era has a dark side that companies should take seriously. There was a 50% increase in weekly cyber-attacks on businesses in 2021 compared to 2020. And hacker attacks will continue to increase throughout 2022 and beyond, especially on companies with weak cybersecurity protection [7].

Hidden Costs of Poor Cybersecurity
According to Sophos, in 2021 the average cost of a ransomware attack was $1.85 million. Beyond the ransom paid, the cost of ransomware includes downtime, lost work hours, network costs, lost business opportunities, device costs, and more.

A corporate cyber security budget is vital for protecting IT systems in-house and off-site. Your IT estate will also need periodic revision to ensure its systems are up-to-date and protected against evolving threats.

#5 Avoid Common Marketing Pitfalls Post-COVID

A lack of investment in marketing is shortsighted and can severely damage your competitiveness and operational efficiency in a post-COVID world. Here are five common pitfalls to avoid:

  1. A lackluster value proposition sees prospects drop out of the sales process
  2. Inadequate marketing attribution tracking and data management
  3. Not allocating time to analyze and react to marketing data
  4. Lack of expertise to execute effective, targeted marketing strategies
  5. Outdated marketing makes a poor first impressions and reduces opportunities

COVID Recovery Leadership Closing Thoughts

Resilience is the secret to the survival of companies post-COVID. By cultivating new skills, you get to bridge the social and geographical divides created by the pandemic. With total commitment and a willingness to adapt, there’s every chance your business will emerge from the coronavirus crises stronger than ever.

Do you need executive support navigating your company out of the COVID-19 pandemic? EWF International’s Peer Advisory Forums bring women leaders together in a safe, confidential space to share expert insight and leadership expertise with non-compete peers. Together, you will gain invaluable feedback and lessons to improve post-COVID leadership strategies and strengthen each other.
Learn More About EWF Executive Peer Advisory Forums

Resource Links