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Recovery Playbook for Impact Employers

June 16, 2021

At a Glance

This special edition of our Impact Employer Framework offers insights into the unique challenges companies face in this moment, along with emerging practices to help business leaders navigate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and related crises.

Cat Ward Vice President
Laura Roberts Senior Director
Christine Johnson
Practices & Centers

About The Playbook

This playbook is a tool to support action among Impact Employers, companies that prioritize inclusive economic growth and equitable economic advancement for their employees alongside traditional business performance.

It is organized based on the six levers of our Impact Employer Model: Corporate Culture, Workforce Planning, Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, Total Rewards, and Offboarding.

In every section, we explain why each lever matters during the recovery phase, why there are challenges associated with navigating it well, and how you can make progress on each lever with emerging practices sourced from leaders across multiple industries and sectors. You can read this as a whole report or just skip to the relevant sections. We invite you to think of the playbook as a reference guide, meant to be accessed frequently as you navigate your company’s recovery.

Six Key Levers Contributing to One Common Goal

Economic Mobility for all.

That’s what Impact Employers aim for, and our Talent Framework is the guide to get us there. By implementing these levers—one, a few, or all six of them—you can begin your journey to becoming an Impact Employer and join the movement for greater opportunity, equity, and advancement.

Purpose driven, employee-centric workplace.

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Agile forecasting and planning for equitable career pathways.

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Diverse talent pipelines and unbiased hiring.

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Personalized skills-building for economic advancement.

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Holistic benefits for employee stability and well-being.

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Strategic, future-focused supports for exiting employees.

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We Can Return Better and Stronger Than Before

Our world looks dramatically different than it did a year ago.

At the start of 2020, no one could have predicted that our economy and society would be abruptly and fundamentally altered. COVID-19 catalyzed an extraordinary public health crisis with devastating economic consequences. As of the writing of this playbook, there have been more than 3.1 million deaths worldwide, with over 600,000 deaths in the United States alone. Twenty-five percent of U.S. adults say that they or someone in their household lost their job because of the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, our country has been grappling with a much-needed reckoning on racial injustice. Urgent calls for action have made their way to the highest levels of corporate leadership.

The pandemic simultaneously magnified longstanding racial disparities and accelerated our nation’s collective awareness of racial injustice and inequity.

Black and Latinx populations, who represent a disproportionate share of frontline workers, have been more negatively affected by the economic and health effects of COVID-19 than white Americans. Currently, 12 percent of Black Americans and 18 percent of Latinx Americans are jobless. Black Americans are two times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans, while Latinx populations are over 50 percent more likely to die from COVID-19.

The consequences of this crisis are particularly concerning for women.

One in four women are said to be downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether, and in September 2020, four times more women than men dropped out of the workforce. While this trend is not particularly surprising—on average, women take on significantly more child care responsibilities than men—it is alarming, and experts fear that it will reverse generations of hard-earned progress for women in the workforce.

The economic impact is being felt across the age spectrum.

Mostly shielded from previous economic downturns and recessions, workers age 50 and older have faced a uniquely challenging situation, experiencing higher levels of unemployment while simultaneously grappling with increased susceptibility to the virus. Younger workers, notoriously disadvantaged during previous economic downturns and recessions, have been negatively affected even more, especially since they tend to hold jobs in hard-hit industries such as retail and hospitality.

A more inclusive future is possible on the other side of the crises we face. We have a unique opportunity to accelerate positive talent management trends, redefine traditional workplace relationships, and devise innovative new solutions.

We can return from this crisis better and stronger than before, and we can create more opportunities for the frontline, entry-level, and middle-skill workers who have proved so essential during this crisis.

We Are Still Navigating the Road to Recovery & Return

We see the fallout and recovery from COVID-19 and related crises happening in three stages. Now that the Rapid Response phase has ended, we are focused on Phase 2—Recovery— and the road toward Phase 3 -Return— during which we must shift toward more sustainable solutions. When we shift more fully into Phase 3 in the coming months, it’s critical that the reality we rebuild for ourselves, our communities, and our businesses, looks vastly different than the one we left behind.

We encourage business leaders to embrace this opportunity and use this playbook as an inspiration and guide for their strategies and investments during this critical period.

Talent management systems and practices have been disrupted, and we have been granted a once-in-a-generation chance to reimagine and build new systems and practices that change the relationship between employer and employee.

How We Recover From This Crisis Matters

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our world—our norms, our values, and the roles of our leaders. But for all the damage it has done and the pain it has caused, it has presented us with an unparalleled opportunity to reimagine the role of Fortune 500 companies in a way that builds upon their status as leaders that have a responsibility to their workers and their communities.

To make the most of this opportunity, we must recognize that the success or failure of any business is tightly tethered to the success or failure of workers and communities—an interdependency that has been increasingly clear in recent months. Practically speaking, the practices presented in this playbook will require varying levels of commitment and investment to implement. As with any effort to introduce organizational change, there will be no one-size-fits-all answer to what recovery should look like among employers. So, as you move forward as a leader in these uncertain times, we encourage you to use the entirety of this recovery playbook as a guide to making investments that are right for your business, your workers, and your community.

Impact Employer Contributors

As a way to help leaders like you overcome these challenges, we co-created this Recovery Playbook for Impact Employers with over 40 leaders from the human resources, corporate philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility business functions at 18 companies across 11 industries.

These leaders came together in small, topic-focused groups to workshop and brainstorm as peers. Together, they helped surface the promising, emerging talent practices their companies have adopted, as well as bold innovations that have yet to be put into play.

Read the Full Playbook
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Recover Stronger Initiative

We’re bringing together America’s largest companies in a shared commitment to embracing business values and practices that prioritize the economic well-being and mobility of their people.

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