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How Diverse Leadership Can Help Associations After COVID

A new study shows association staffers are understandably anxious about post-pandemic life

More than a year since the start of the pandemic, associations have gotten smarter about remote work, virtual meetings and shifting gears in a host of ways. But it’s not quite the time to celebrate, according to a new association study.

Renewal, Reinvention and Responsibility,” a new report published by McKinley Advisors, reveals how more than 100 association executives and staff plan to address operations in the coming months (they answered survey questions in February). Many expect belt-tightening: 64 percent of respondents said that budget cuts are happening or will happen, double the percentage of respondents who said that in 2020. Large proportions of association staffers expect staff reorganizations (59 percent), freezes on salary increases (52 percent), and hiring freezes (48 percent)—all substantial jumps from 2020.

And a third of respondents anticipate reductions in programs and services (34 percent) and outright layoffs (33 percent)—sizable increase from the 2020 numbers as well. Perhaps needless to say, optimism is on the downswing. Last year, 79 percent of respondents said they had an optimistic outlook about their association. This year? Just 51 percent.

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