Top 5 In-demand Jobs Post COVID-19?

Raconteur | MaryLou Costa | May 2020

Head of tech jobs - Top 5 In-demand Jobs Post COVID-19?

What does the top crisis management team look like? With a perfect storm of business challenges, heightened by pressure on team members working remotely, the coronavirus outbreak has spotlighted technology, customer services, communications, wellbeing and data

1. Head of technology

From barricading against cyberattacks, to bolstering customer service through artificial intelligence (AI), the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in wider priorities for the head of technology as part of a crisis management team.

Cyberattacks are now more likely and should be a top priority for senior management, says Jonathan Hemus, managing director of crisis management consultancy Insignia.

“With a potential second wave of COVID-19, a business that is now wounded may find a major cyberattack in the next six months could push them into bankruptcy,” Hemus warns.

“Millions of people are working from home and more vulnerable in terms of IT security. There are likely to be more successful attacks, so thinking about cybersecurity is really important at the moment.”

And as consumers have flooded ecommerce platforms with record numbers of online orders, leveraging AI has become paramount. Data from more than 20,000 global companies, compiled by customer service software firm Zendesk, shows that support requests using AI are up 55 per cent since March.

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For retailers such as Carrefour, rolling out a chatbot service has been crucial for coping with demand. “We will invest even more in AI,” says Jean-Philippe Blerot, head of digital and ecommerce at Carrefour Belgium. “This allows our customer service agents to focus on more complex answers.”

2. Head of customer services/experience

According to Carrefour’s Blerot, increase in customer service demand has been staggering at more than 2.5 times higher than usual. The retailer immediately increased by 25 per cent its number of customer services agents, who had to shift from being subject-matter experts to generalists to accommodate the influx of questions.

With the COVID-19 outbreak causing systems and teams to overload, customer services has helped limit customer frustration and create a positive experience, Blerot adds.

The ability to buffer a potentially negative situation through strong customer services should not be underestimated, says Emily Hough, editor in chief of Crisis Response Journal.

Reputational risk, a brand or company’s social value, could be threatened by how a company deals with, or is perceived to be dealing with, a crisis. Several companies in this crisis have acted tone deaf and consumers have vowed to remember this,” she says.

“Always keep an eye in the mirror to see how decisions could be viewed by staff, stakeholders, customers and the wider public; all this is amplified by social media.”

3. Head of culture and wellbeing

Company culture and employee stress levels have been pushed to the edge, as social interaction and activities have been stripped away by the pandemic and lockdown.

Recognising the need to balance productivity with mental health and company cohesion has now become front of mind for crisis management teams. As Zendesk chief operating officer Tom Keiser notes, senior management’s ability to prioritise staff wellbeing can help teams to “really come through for their customers”.

Greg Brooks, global chief marketing and culture officer at WPP-owned media company Mindshare, says the current crisis has promoted the need for more empathy and understanding in business.

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Mindshare has since doubled down on cultural initiatives to keep colleagues connected and motivated, he adds. It has launched a remote-working online hub, learning programmes, mental health support and virtual events such as quizzes, workouts, origami, reiki, mindfulness, Netflix chats, book clubs, cook-alongs and even a pet Olympics.

Mental health and wellbeing have also risen up the agenda at marketing technology firm MiQ. Co-founder Lee Puri says, since the crisis began, its new global head of diversity and inclusion has been tasked with introducing a number of initiatives, such as regular wellness webinars, a global buddy programme and virtual employee resource groups to connect team members around the world.

With the human element of a crisis brought into sharp focus by COVID-19, people and culture will play a larger role in business continuity plans and crisis management teams, Brooks predicts.

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