As the pandemic rages on, we can expect the sector to continue to thrive and lead to more work opportunities. What we don’t know is how those jobs will look long-term.
“General health and immunity health are creating jobs across this category and others. From ingredients through to the retail, and all points in between, we see continued category and employment growth,” said Rex Lawrence, president of Natural Industry Jobs based in Sacramento. “Our ‘glass is half full view’ is that health, nutrition and immune health awareness are at an all-time high, and that demand will continue to fuel growth within our industry. In turn, demand for good people will grow throughout 2021. Companies can fight the challenges or embrace them, and use their acceptance of work from home and other related trends as a selling point to attract great people."
For many, it’s a sink or swim type mentality, with the pandemic teaching us that embracing uncertainty is key to survival.
“We’re all learning how to hire, manage and perform in a remote environment. Accept it and even embrace it. Chances are, even post-Covid, the trend is that more remote workers will be a part of our workforces,” added Lawrence.
This reshaping moment has pushed many in leadership to build this uncertainty into decision making strategies--including the hiring process.
“Employees are being trained remotely with the understanding that the role they may be hired for is temporary and that they will be starting out on a remote basis, but will in time be placed at a headquarters location,” explained Angela Stephens, president of Angela Stephens & Associates, a Missouri-based retained and contingency executive search in the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, food, nutrition, over-the-counter and consumer markets. “In terms of the trends that are specific to the nutraceutical companies, what they see, and what they are finding is truly more of the one-on-one groups in certain departments that are working together more on a team basis. We see that a lot. They are moving forward. They are seeing that a lot of needs are being met.”
Despite the Covid-19 vaccines becoming more widely available, Stephens added that the immunity category doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
“One of the interesting areas that we have noticed is that candidates are showing interest in nutrition, staying healthy, along with social distancing, they are making sure that everyone is washing their hands and being distant. We are seeing the immunity side becoming of great interest to candidates to include immunity supplements, and other supplements in that area continuing to take notice. From a product and research point, brain health seems to be a very hot area right now that individuals are interested in. I see that trend in the cognitive area growing rapidly, as well as immunity. It is definitely going to be sticking around for a while,” observed Stephens.
The vaccine factor
While the natural health industry isn’t exactly known for embracing vaccines, both Lawrence and Stephens say the overall attitude is encouraging.
Stephens said that while some in the natural foods and wellness industry are hesitant to get vaccinated, the sentiment of employees getting vaccinated is generally positive.
“I think the healthcare community is doing a fantastic job. Healthcare professionals are the ones who are really making the difference in getting their patients to be open to being vaccinated, and then once they do, I think that they are fine with it. Also, if candidates feel they are going to be entering the workforce again, especially with larger corporations, being vaccinated may be expected. Maybe not a requirement just yet, but I think it is going to be strongly recommended,” said Stephens.
Once business travel picks back up, employees will likely have to show proof of a negative test or digital documentation proving they have been vaccinated. This is something that has already been integrated in international travel. On a smaller scale, ‘vaccine passports’ may be needed to attend events such as trade shows.
“Overall, we are hearing many more people are getting vaccinated or planning it, than those who are not,” said Lawrence. “When I think about trade shows like Expo West and East, and SupplySide, I wonder how that is going to work out if there are people in our industry attending who will not be vaccinated. I have heard that some of the large customers have told their people that they will not be attending these events until companies feel it is safe.”