There was an interesting view recently given which noted that corporate business today have learnt lessons and changed more fundamentally, over the last three years, than many have understood. At the same time, Independent concerns have survived against the greatest odds new service propositions. They have both, in different ways, created a strange alliance to challenge local, public and political bodies to raise the bar.
The view put forward was that corporates today have registered, and have acted upon, the importance of investing back into communities, into talent and into sustainability. It was estimated that more than an extra 8% in costs had been invested in order to create a stronger balance within businesses so that it once again rebuilt trust between leadership, shareholders, employees and customers. It was the corporates who were setting a new benchmark for others to follow and interestingly they are seeing the reward of this work.
In contrast the challenges for Independents are well documented and it has been a struggle simply to survive. Operating costs have risen by 11% each year whilst inflation, work patterns and covid has played havoc. It has been like a perfect storm. The independent though has fought back with stronger service levels and product propositions. Standards have never been better and as the consumer has gravitated towards bespoke experiences which are personalized.
The argument goes on to note that so many traditional structures are viewed to be failing and are in need to evolution; whether in politics, higher education or in local government. As the old trusted pillars struggle, so business has stepped forward to fill the gaps in many ways. Big business, so often criticized for a focus on excessive profits, is today contributing more and there is a stronger air of compassion and care than arguably existed pre Covid.
The view expressed was to highlight just how much is changing and that all businesses today are creating a momentum for change. Some are raising the bar in how they interact with communities. Many today are doing great work in recruiting and developing talent from diverse backgrounds. Many have fought to survive and have created stronger service levels and propositions. So much has moved on, that what as viewed to be acceptable business practice in 2019, is now viewed as old fashioned and outdated.
There is a new benchmark emerging which will lay the ground for traditional structures to be increasingly challenged as to whether they are fit for purpose. There is a new hunger and drive for something better.
Leadership has been under the microscope over the last four years. First it had to face the immense challenges of covid; then of the fastest rise in inflation in 40 years and an unsettled economy along with the fall out from Brexit and the emergence of new working practices. One can easily argue that this generation of leadership has been far more tested than almost any previously. The fact that so many have survived is a testament to leaders but maybe the greatest reflection will lie in how so many have pivoted, adapted and laid the ground for a more balanced and people focused culture to emerge as well as stronger service levels and propositions.
This is a new era and potentially a very exciting one which does lay down new standards for others to follow.
Written by Chris Sheppardson, Founder of EP Business in Hospitality