PACKAGING FORESIGHT for your business

For over two decades, leading companies have relied on PTIS and Leading Futurists to guide their strategies and programs, through every three year Future of Packaging consortia, and now with our valued global alliance partners, provide insightful Packaging Foresight that you can use to help guide and grow your business.

Contact us to stay ahead of key drivers and trends impacting packaging.

Brian Wagner

Hiring Post-Covid and the Future of Work

Aug 26, 2021

A Dispatch from The Front Line of The War For Talent
By Matt Simeone
The last 18 months have taken companies and executive search firms on an unprecedented roller coaster ride.  The first quarter of 2020 was business as usual, followed by two-quarters of extraordinary uncertainty and greatly reduced hiring.  As the third quarter of 2020 ended, companies became acutely aware of the opportunity cost of deferred executive hiring.The result?  The pandemic has eased, the new normal has emerged, and companies and executive search firms face one of the most challenging talent acquisition and hiring environments, ever.  Why?

  • Companies are in “catch up mode” trying to fill deferred open positions, as well as new positions driven by the post-pandemic demand recovery
  • Employees expect a redefined life-work balance and have the leverage to demand it
  • Top talent is constantly courted by executive recruiters presenting interesting opportunities

Additionally, companies now face an unprecedented collection of executive recruiting challenges:

Demographic Shift – Generationally, there are fewer executives available for open positions

Thin Benches – Prior downsizing and cost-cutting has shrunk the executive talent pool

Early Retirements – Based on age and ability to retire, some of the most experienced and skilled leaders, have left the workforce, forever

Purposeful Downshifting – Many mid-career leaders have concluded the corporate ladder (or treadmill) was no longer worth the effort or the return

New Rules of Work – Location (i.e. “The Office”) is much less important, and work flexibility is so much more so.   Plus culture, diversity, inclusion, and engagement matter more than ever.

To win in this most challenging of environments, companies must address these core issues:

1)  Compensation – The best leaders are fully aware of their market value and will require a significant premium to change companies

2)  Flexible Work Location – Knowledge workers understand and value how productive they can be in a hybrid/ virtual model with limited time in “The Office”

3)  Investment – The prospect and promise of a new position is not enough.  Companies must provide potential new hires with a clear career path and investment in their development

4)  Perfect Process – The candidate has the leverage in this market and expects that companies will provide timely, flawless, and differentiated recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes.

Companies that invest and excel in these critical competencies will own the high ground in the ongoing battle to attract the best leaders with exceptional skills.

Matt Simeone is the President and Founder of Riverton Partners –

What Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka can tell packaging executives
By John Mahaffie
This summer, we witnessed an athletic champion, Simone Biles, say that she would forgo her chance to compete in Olympic events to deal with personal issues. What Biles did is an indicator of social change emerging all around us. Earlier, tennis pro-Naomi Osaka had taken a similar tack.A new social contract is emerging
We are seeing a new social contract emerge: a new sensibility across at least North American and Western European society. The individual matters in new ways.As Matt Simeone highlights in the article above, for the talent companies want to hire, things have changed. But, in fact, our whole approach to people and the marketplace need to change too.We’ve written before of COVID-19 legacies shaping packaging (July 2021), recognizing that the global pandemic is an epochal, historic event. Events of the past eighteen months have kicked along trends that were underway, accelerated change in values and attitudes, and leave us in a new place.People have a strengthened sense of their rights and needs: the right to mask or not mask, the right to have their employer treat them well, the right to beg off from pressure cooker international competitions like the Olympics, the right to be recognized for exactly they are, the right to serve or not serve a customer, and so on.The self has become even more central. The idea of self-care has gone from obscure to prominent, and the current wave of life stresses has shown more people why it matters.
Much of the stress, burnout, and work/life imbalance existed before the pandemic, but COVID-19 accentuated and exacerbated it. It was a breakthrough, “a ha” moment for people.

Matt Simeone’s “Dispatch from the Front Lines of the War for Talent”, above, tells us how this affects talent recruitment. But it affects everything a business does.
You might lament the changes, but business success means recognizing that new, strengthened, and more nuanced personal values and attitudes are sweeping society whether we like them or not.

They will impact:

Consumer choice — endless, more personalized choices, and 5-star reviews of just about everything

Job choice — high and rising expectations for job candidates that are not about pay and traditional benefits

Political action — easily triggered and organized across a broad front of issues

Regulation and deregulation — based on ever-more-specific, things with known or perceived impact on people

Brand and reputation — ever more under the white-hot scrutiny of social media

There is no safe harbor for companies that refuse to change their ways

Where are the impacts for packaging?
The short answer, everywhere. Here are some key ones:

Packaging area Impacts
Marketing and brand All matters of reputation and corporate values, now filtered through a strengthened and sharpened focus on the individual, social issues, rights, health, and safety, etc.
Operations The overall safety profile of corporate and packaging operations, plus any impacts on workers and communities
Hiring and managing The worker’s individuality and wants and needs beyond just pay and benefits are paramount. Being not merely a not-bad employer but a choice one ensures access to, and retention of, talent
Design, collaboration, innovation Getting talent in the organization, and collaborating with it to focus on the organizational mission and care about outcomes is critical. Workers like to feel like they are part of creating something
Supply chain, logistics As with operations, a packaging organization would do well to analyze impacts on the things that matter to workers, consumers, and society up and down their value and supply chain and throughout their logistics
Product and process safety Here too, a total life cycle (with that cycle defined broadly) analysis of processes and their impacts, from who you source from, to how you operate, to what happens to waste, matter to the overall corporate profile
AND, none of this supplants or obviates a focus on sustainability

Grab a chair, and push it up to the table
It’s not unusual for packaging organizations to wait, in response mode, for direction or requirements from other parts of their value chain. Doing so now risks, more than ever:

  1. Not being ready with the innovations and changes that consumers and business customers demand
  2. Missing the opportunity to play a strategic, value-building, innovation-leading role in the business as it addresses new demands. This is your seat at the table.

Your seat at the table may not be handed to you. You may have to grab a chair yourself and push yourself up to the table.

John Mahaffie is a co-founder and principal of Leading Futurists LLC, a consultancy that helps organizations explore change and discover new opportunities.

Quotes for our times…

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” − Andy Warhol, artist (1928-1987)
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  − John Steinbeck, novelist (1902-1968)
“Provide ships or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will brave even that void.” — Johannes Kepler, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, philosopher (1521-1630)
“It’s amazing to discover that you’re wrong. In fact, it’s liberating. It’s not a threat. It opens your mind.” — Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist and cosmologist (1954-  )

Our next 2022 Future of Packaging program
In 2022, the Future of Packaging team will again do its deep-dive exploration of packaging’s future, now with a post-pandemic lens, and an eye on accelerating change.
As never before, we need clarity on the future. Contact us for more on our programs and to learn more about the promise of foresight in packaging and what to do about it. Please see:, or contact any team members listed below.
Some additional resources:

The Future of Packaging – PTIS and Leading Futurists Collaboration
Since the late 1990s, leading companies from across the packaging value chain have relied on PTIS and Leading Futurists to guide their future-focused strategies, leveraging foresight tools to anticipate change and navigate through uncertain waters. Every three years we offer the Future of Packaging program for a multi-sponsor deep dive into the shape of change for the sector.

Our tools help to assure your packaging is hitting on key global trends and stay ahead of competitors. These services can be delivered live or remotely and include:
  • The Future of Packaging Programs
  • Scenario Planning Programs and Workshops
  • Customized Trends & Insight Workshops
  • Teaching techniques such as Horizon 3 thinking
  • Ongoing future insights newsletter
  • Individual company “Future-proofing” audit of packaging, operations