When unexpected and disruptive circumstances develop, how prepared is your business to respond to sudden stresses? While this question was once a hypothetical posed by risk management teams, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies in every industry to grapple with unprecedented difficulties. While small business owners have been hard hit, economic anxiety has also impacted the nation’s top employers. Which COVID response has been most successful so far, and which companies are still struggling?
With the research organization JUST Capital, Forbes set out to analyze the top 100 American employers and their response to the pandemic. Aspects that the study examined included layoffs, sick pay, social distancing compliance via telework or in-store changes—in all, nearly two dozen measurements.
Businesses topping the Forbes list included Walmart, Target, Verizon, and Starbucks. Forbes notes that its metrics primarily rely on data related to business operations and do not weigh the legal or ethical controversies facing several of the businesses in the Top 10.
The sudden contraction of the job market in some sectors combined with surging demand in others created unique challenges for businesses such as CVS, which ranked #17 on the Forbes list. Staffing during COVID is harder than ever, but CVS succeeded in making more than 50,000 new hires in just a few weeks. Their efforts included a transition to virtual staffing resources, online job interview platforms, and other tools.
Maintaining the flow of talent into a business, especially at high volume, is a challenge even without a pandemic reshaping societal patterns. Now more than ever, the use of digital tools is fundamental to businesses meeting that challenge. From teleconferencing software to rapid online applicant vetting services, including the US OneSEARCH by backgroundchecks.com, technology is a critical asset in shaping a better COVID response.
The Forbes list is not intended to provide a round of applause for businesses weathering the pandemic but rather to reveal a critical consideration: to succeed, a company's COVID plan must be robust, complex, and evolving. A firm's performance today is vital for the short-term, but decisions made now will also have far-reaching effects. These choices may impact operational capabilities or lead to significant changes in community perceptions about a brand—for better or for worse.
While Forbes looked at only the top 100 employers in the United States, there are tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses facing the same challenges and choices on a different scale. Their efforts are as important as those made by the country’s largest businesses. By choosing the right tools for simplifying hiring and formulating smart plans for handling COVID-related risk, SMEs can unlock positive opportunities during challenging times.