Thrivers, Survivors, and Other Characteristics of Resilient Organizations

A recent research report identifies what it takes for an industry to be resilient in the face of adversity.

Author: Sherrif Karamat       

Andrew Davis

When marketing expert Andrew Davis took the Main Stage at PCMA EduCon in New Orleans in June, he shared real-life examples of companies that thrived during the pandemic. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

Sherrif Karamat

Sherrif Karamat, CAE,
President & CEO, PCMA and CEMA

Just as we restart in-person events, we are dealing with inflation — which Americans rate as the nation’s top problem — while many of our organizations and supplier partners are still struggling with having fewer resources to help them get back on their feet. But our industry survived the pandemic, and we will persevere as we navigate a recovery during the latest challenge.

What does it take for an industry to be resilient in the face of adversity? The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released a research report exploring this question at the organizational level. According to findings from surveying 620 execs in the U.S., their organizations fell into three resilience categories when faced with the pandemic: Thriver (doing better now than pre-pandemic); Persister (no change pre-pandemic to now); and Survivor (bounced back to pre-pandemic levels). There was also a non-resilience category: Decliner (doing worse now than pre-pandemic).

Unfortunately, as an industry, we are still in the Decliner stage, through no fault of our own — we are moving forward but the process requires patience. The more resilient we are in our own organizations, the better off the business events community will be as a whole.

The SHRM report also found that resilient organizations had senior leaders who prior to the pandemic were more likely to actively listen for problems in their organization; were more likely to quickly recognize the pandemic as a threat and were more likely to discuss and make plans both internally and externally, with organizations in their sector. What’s more, during the pandemic, resilient organizations tended to continuously engage in information seeking and sharing, empowering and rewarding employees for developing new and innovative solutions, and were more likely to clear a path for implementing solutions by breaking down bureaucratic barriers, and bringing employees on board to enact changes.

Goat-2-Meeting

Goat-2-Meeting, Sweet Farm’s pandemic pivot, helped the company thrive during COVID-19.

When marketing expert Andrew Davis took the Main Stage at PCMA EduCon in New Orleans on June 7, he shared real-life examples of companies that thrived during the pandemic and they all exemplified the practices identified in the study. Sweet Farm, a nonprofit farm in Northern California and corporate retreat venue, was one example. Before the pandemic, Davis shared, 40 percent of the nonprofit’s revenues came from events they hosted for companies like Facebook and Oracle, which sent their teams to Sweet Farm to learn firsthand about the environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture.

When the pandemic wiped out their group business, they quickly implemented an idea: Goat-2-Meeting, a live appearance from a goat or another animal resident along with a short tour of the farm during a virtual event. By the end of 2020, Sweet Farm had hosted 8,000 Goat-2-Meetings and raised more than $1 million — putting them squarely in SHRM’s Thriver category.


RELATED: Download SHRM’s Organizational and Employee Resilience Research Report here.