Employment Trends Evolving in the Nutraceutical and Food Industry in 2021

    Man having a conference call with his business team online, telecommuting, remote work and business communications concept

    The nutraceutical and food workplace seem to be evolving to different types of platforms. Many CEOs have commented that even though the future (with COVID-19) is still uncertain, employees have learned to work on a remote basis. In the beginning, there was a lack of productivity, but as businesses have provided support with office equipment, Zoom, and other advanced technology, employees seem to be appreciating this newfound freedom while regaining momentum in productivity.

    “Our clients have told us many employees have enjoyed working remotely, although leadership is starting to bridge the workforce and bringing back some staffers to the office with a flexible schedule,” says 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. “For instance, three days in the office, two days working remotely.”

    Leaders have noticed that employees do miss the social networking with their colleagues and having those true face-to-face meetings. Prior to COVID, many calls were just that— calls. Now most meetings continue to be virtual, and employees have become accustomed to this type of video meeting.

    Corporate leaders have realized too that certain office space was wasted and now they are beginning to be open to remote employees where before this would not have been an option, especially at the C-Suite level.

    Companies have continued to hire talent that is needed, but not in excess. Until more is established around COVID vaccinations and the variant strains, there may not be the robust hiring we have seen in past years.

    “On the supply side of our business, particularly with those business who had exposure to the food service business, hiring was soft in 2020, but we see it turning around now throughout 2021,” said Rex Lawrence, President of Sacramento, CA-based Natural Industry Jobs. “On the retail natural and organic front, hiring steadily picked up the second half of 2020 and into 2021, and is expected to continue through 2021. This includes all departments, from operations and production to sales, marketing, accounting and finance, leadership and more. We believe that COVID will have a lasting impact on the population, in terms of health and wellbeing, and this will continue to fuel growth and hiring.”

    According to Stephens, there has been a hurry-up-and-wait environment in terms of the C-Suite level. Companies have been interviewing for certain roles as they look for that right person, but still waiting to see what is happening with the current vaccination situation.

    “We have seen companies who have hired candidates straight from video interviews,” said Stephens. “Prior to COVID, there would have been a longer process that would have included phone interviews, travel for in-person interviews, as well as multiple visits to the company headquarters or regional offices. We have seen that even though COVID has been a huge interruption, the internal spirit of companies is still inspiring. A winning spirit has emerged to build better products, focus on innovation, and create incentives for employees using suggestions provided by their own workforce.”

    It appears the nutraceutical market will remain stable as there seems to be a balance between an increase in products that are being consumed and a decrease in other products. As long as the pandemic is with us, and it appears it will be in some capacity through year’s end, the nutraceutical industry as a whole should actually continue to thrive.

    Many companies have had to learn how to run their businesses differently than before. Now different departments are taking an active role in safety around COVID precautions. This is especially true when bringing on new hires as they travel into the office as needed.

    “We have noticed too a newfound creativity in terms of how the position spec looks,” says Stephens. “For instance, certain roles will now interact remotely with departments that may have not worked together with in the past.”

    Lawrence adds, “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. Additionally, we are all learning how to hire, manage, and perform in a remote environment. Accept it and even embrace it is how I view it. Chances are, even post-COVID, the trend is that more remote workers will be a part of our workforces.”

    Several corporate human resource managers have also noted employees have shown a gratitude of being able to work remotely. Many employees have to juggle work assignments with home schooling and other forms of caregiving, so working from home is actually a blessing.