The COVID-19 crisis has impacted almost everything, including community programs. When we set out to collect data on the impact of COVID-19 on community programs we were not sure what we would find. While there was an obvious role for online communities to play in a situation where digital engagement became the default, we also knew that organizations were looking for places to cut back.
What we found was interesting – a near equal balance of programs accelerating and stalling.
12% of programs have significantly accelerated plans while 9% have significantly stalled plans. The rest are almost equally split. The hiring outlook is more tempered with 20% of programs putting hiring on hold and 10% of programs reporting lay-offs or expected lay-offs. 14% of community programs are still hiring or expecting to hire, especially contract staff that preserves flexibility. Given the dramatically negative impact the crisis has had in many sectors, this is a relatively positive outlook for community teams.
My guess is that those community programs that were strategically funded and driven have been accelerated because they are seen as a key enabler of flexibility, coordination, and connection. Those programs that serve a more tactical use or have never gained strategic visibility are more likely to be seen as a cost – and thus subject to cuts when business contracts. Looking at the COVID-19 impact on the community programs of TheCR Network members strengthened my hypothesis – because they are much more likely to be accelerating and hiring. More critically from my perspective, community leaders who are members of TheCR Network feel much more empowered and energized than the their peers – suggesting that they have the trust and authority to address the crisis assertively.
Haven’t read the full State of Community Management 2020 report? Download your free copy here.
Interested in exploring more about how to address the COVID-19 crisis?
Check out these webinar recordings and conversations
- Using Digital Channels in a Crisis with Alex Blanton and Erica Kuhl
- Managing Remote Teams with Scott Leeper and Keri Kersten
- Digital Leadership with Rachel Happe
And these Engagement That Scales episodes: