We push pause for one hour each week to talk, share, and listen to 60+ clients and partners who are participating in our Virtual Roundtable. As business leaders, employers, and human beings, this group discusses the impact of the latest COVID-19 developments, and ideas to help each other navigate the changing reality.

These are the topics discussed on April 13th. We hope these can help you and your teams as you make decisions moving ahead.

Other Online Meeting And Connection Solutions

Last week we had several people ask about alternatives to Zoom for online meetings and video calls. While many of us are leveraging Zoom regularly, there have been various reports about privacy and security concerns. At Heart+Mind we use MS Teams, Zoom, and Miro (virtual whiteboarding tool) for our meetings and synthesis sessions – they have been very effective.

However, we did some digging around and we found the following additional info for you. We hope this helps if you’re looking around for other tools.

If you have never used Miro, we recommend checking it out as a simple and compelling solution for getting a team together in a “virtual room” with a white board and stickies and markers. It has video conferencing built in, and they’ve created many templates for almost any type of meeting or planning session you can imagine. We highly recommend it.

Brand Engagement and Post-Virus Spend Expectations

We added a few questions to our tracking survey this week about how consumers are feeling about interaction with brands and spend in categories moving ahead. It’s always difficult for people to give a direct read to questions such as these, but it will be helpful to see how things shift as the pandemic and recovery unfold.

First, there’s an opportunity for brands in specific categories to engage more with consumers related to product/service changes that brands are experiencing because of the crisis.

Not surprisingly, small business owners and those with a negative job impact past month have a heightened need to want to hear more from banking, mortgage, investment services and financial planners.

When it comes to planning for where one might spend more post-crisis, aside from the obvious (e.g. restaurants), cooking from home may be a longer-term game plan (likely for both financial necessity but also for enjoyment/adapted life changes) as there’s a noted increase in future spending on groceries post-crisis.

  • The future spend increase on groceries is most acute among:
    • those younger (<45)
    • those with kids at home and
    • urban dwellers.
    • There is no income difference; however, those who have experienced a negative job impact are significantly more likely to note this spend will increase once the crisis passes – as do those who work full-time.
  • Telecom and digital subscriptions are the areas where a net negative is noticed, meaning there’s a likelihood to spend less on these services after the crisis passes

Below we plot the net scores for both a desire to for more/less brand engagement AND intent to spend more/less in the future by category.

Faith and Hope and Church – Holy Week Observations

Given the focus on religious observance over this past holiday weekend, we want to share a few of the insights we have related to faith and spirituality during this crisis situation. Several of you have asked about any observations we have in this territory.

First, we find a major factor driving “hope” across the country is people’s faith. We have already noted that a third (32%) of the country remains “hopeful” in the current pandemic. As we have dug a little more deeply into this feeling we find hope is mostly driven by faith (46%), approach to life (43%), and a desire to make things better for those around us (36%). Some (36%) are hopeful this crisis will bring about needed changes in the country.

The faith factor is holding steady as the primary driver of a “hopeful” attitude in the country. But this varies with intensity across different cohorts. When looking at the 32% who say they are “hopeful” we find these varying levels explaining faith as the primary reason for their hope:

  • African Americans (68%)
  • Under $50K household income (56%)
  • Urban (50%) and Rural (53%) areas
  • High school graduate or some college (51%)
  • Employed (50%)

Second, church attendance has dropped significantly as services have been cancelled. In this first week of tracking 71% of US households who typically attend church said they had cancelled or changed weekly worship services by mid-March. However, in the last two weeks we have seen regular increases in the number of Americans who believe they are very/extremely likely to attend church in the next two weeks.

  • March 26 – 10%
  • April 2 – 15%
  • April 9 – 21%

Going into Easter Weekend, we see the following cohorts are most likely to expect to return to worship services within the next two weeks. These are large numbers given the lockdown status.

  • Conservative Democrats (38%)
  • Business Travelers (38%)
  • Small Business Owners (34%)
  • $100K+ (31%)
  • Millennials (30%)
  • Mountain States (30%)
  • Expect Economic Impact Less than 7 Months (30%)
  • Kids at Home (29%)
  • African Americans (28%)
  • Mid-Atlantic States (28%)
  • Urban Areas (28%)
  • Hispanic (26%)
  • Republicans (26%)
  • Working (25%)
  • Gen X (25%)

Talent Recruitment and Retention – Your Thinking

In our recent session we discussed some of the trends and shifts that may represent potential implications for talent retention and recruitment post COVID-19. After discussion, we asked you to vote on those trends you believe we need to be most prepared to address. Most of us are seeing the likely shift to more remote work long after this crisis – but there are several in here that also suggest a general increase in attention paid to employees and work-life balance.

1. Remote work may be more frequent or even permanent (66%)
2. Nurturing a culture that is more physically dispersed (33%)
3. Paradigm shift in how we work and the accelerated digital transformation (30%)
4. Disintegration of the M-5, 8-5 work week (30%)
5. Increasing importance of employee health & well being (27%)
6. Are employees going to feel more ‘disposable’ now than ever before? (27%)
7. Different ways to measure productivity (24%)
8. Company actions and citizenship during COVID more scrutinized by current and future talent (21%)
9. Greater use of technology for how we learn/reskill talent (21%)
10. Increased importance of balance between human and economic value of work (18%)
11. Potential employee exodus, re-evaluation of goals, needs, interests (18%)
12. Remote interviewing, selection, onboarding, training, virtual career fairs here to stay (15%)
13. Reduction in office leasing (15%)
14. Potential lack of trust based on a company’s recent layoff activity (15%)
15. Less global migration, potential shift away from larger urban centers (12%)
16. Employees working multiple job to triangulate income/sense of security (12%)
17. Accelerated agile use of freelance, partners, gig economy talent (9%)
18. A more ageist workforce (9%)
19. Employee desperation to return to the workforce (9%)
20. Priority of skill based hiring (6%)
21. Increased use of AI / Automation in recruiting and identifying candidate skill match (6%)
22. College recruiting in a virtual world (6%)
23. Greater interest in industries that are deemed essential businesses (6%)
24. Shift from strictly professional relationships to more social relationships with colleagues. (6%)
25. Larger talent pool (3%)

How will you prepare now in how you present yourself to staff – current and prospective in the future? What actions taken now put you in a better position to address these shifting dynamics when full recovery kicks in over time?

Priority Questions Ahead

We again asked for priority questions to focus on in the coming week. We use this input to guide us as we are gathering information to share in the next Virtual Roundtable. Please reach out if you have additional information and/or requests.

Our latest prioritized list of your high need questions is as follows:

  1. Signals to watch now to get understanding of post COVID-19 consumer behavior
  2. Timing and steps to shift from impact to recovery
  3. Long-term business planning
  4. Appropriate comms and interactions with customers during COVID-19 and as we shift to the new normal
  5. Technology support expectations of employees (teleworking)
  6. Post COVID-19 views for us to consider now
  7. What are new and different ways to make connections with clients virtually (beyond Zoom/Facetime)
  8. Employer role in managing mental health
  9. Productivity expectations during this remote working experience
  10. Roles & expectations of non-profit sector
  11. What will the new normal be in terms of the job market
  12. Infrastructure and operational investment to plan for future
  13. Engaging with employees now vs post stay-at-home
  14. Employee expectations in sharing CARES and unemployment benefits

We are continuing to build out ways to look at the tectonic shifts underneath the shifting behaviors that the crisis is forcing but will emerge more long term. This coming Friday we are going to have some specific clients and partners share thoughts about shifting from impact to recovery as many of you are starting to take action in that area.

We will cover as many as we can as we go through these sessions. Please feel free to reach out for things you would like to share. And, please also consider sharing your thinking during the session as topics come up.


Please reference the additional documents provided for our weekly tracking data findings and slides that we have shared.

Also, please go to https://heartandmindstrategies.com/covid-19/ to access any of this information at any time. Please feel free to share and use however is most helpful for you.