The entire world has been hit with the COVID-19 pandemic and this has altered an aspect of everyone’s life in one way or another. Businesses have closed up, some have even folded up and the work from home option has been enforced by companies that can thrive without the physical presence of their staff. Economies have been affected by this pandemic, but the essential question companies and businesses should be asking is, “what lessons can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic regarding business continuity?”
Why Businesses Should Care About Preparing Strong COVID-19’s Strategies to Survive and TRHIVE?
- Nearly 43 Million People Infected, and over 1.2 Million dead and counting
- Nearly 195 Million Jobs could be lost in 2020 across multiple industries (source: UN News)
- More than 100 Countries blocked all Flights (Supply Chain hit hard)
- The world is set to lose Trillions of dollars and require Trillions and years to get back to where it was
“We’re definitely headed to something much deeper than the Great Recession, and comparable to Great Depression in depth,” said Jesse Rothstein, director of Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE). “What we don’t know yet is whether we’ll be able to bounce back quickly or whether it will linger on for a decade or more. … The greater extent that we can keep workers attached to their firms and keep the firms afloat, the more likely it is it will bounce back quickly.”
Companies have to be proactive in tackling the current COVID-19 pandemic. Managers and decision-makers in companies should be thinking of strategies that ensure that their companies do not suffer long or permanent losses in any form. That primarily involves losses in customer base and losses in the workforce.
Companies need to take the following seriously if they plan to stay relevant after this crisis period and come out without sustaining permanent damage.
1. Invest cash properly
Markets around the world have experienced unpredictable dips and losses in these recent times, and a lot of investors and individuals are worried about losing the value of their company shares. Some of them may have sold off a massive chunk of these shares in a bid to minimize their losses.
Companies should be able to analyze the effects of this and respond quickly. This may affect smaller companies in more ways than it would affect the big and stable companies as the bigger companies tend to recover in the long run.
Companies that make rash decisions in face of this unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 pandemic as regards to investments may never recover from the crisis.
We need to understand that tough times like this requires the existence of capital for day to day operations, or recognizing that the business may need to draft new financial plans to help them stay afloat. These companies may need to consider alternative means of obtaining money, such as taking loans from banks and requesting additional support from investors. In addition to this, such companies would have to consider their overall running costs and find ways to cut down on nonessentials to reduce financial pressure.
2. Ensure job security for employees
This is a very critical point where many companies will make the wrong decision, layoffs are already happening all over the world. Especially at companies that have incurred losses and possess weak strategies for retaining employees.
Companies that allow remote work are more likely to retain their employees than companies that require their employees to be present physically. Companies that deal in physical sales may suffer from this if they do not find ways to retain employees. Companies need to devise means to retain their human workforce as human resources remain invaluable in today’s business world.
Some ideas on how to retain the workforce amidst the COVID-19 pandemic are:
- Employing the method of putting their employees on unpaid leaves instead of letting them go entirely. Such employees can be given a package that would help them get through the lockdown period even if they are not being paid. This can show your employees that you care as a company, and they are more likely to come back to you than look for new work opportunities after the pandemic.
- Also, companies that still require their employees to work to stay afloat can decide to make use of salary cuts for a few months to stay afloat and also retain their workforce. These methods would prove effective as employees can provide for their families while the COVID-19 crisis lasts, and they will appreciate the effort of the company to not go down the easy way of firing people.
3. Make use of employee engagement strategies
The importance of employee engagement cannot be overemphasized, and it is even more critical in this period of COVID-19. Employees are humans, and humans lose motivation easily when they are not challenged.
Employees of today are always searching for companies that would challenge them and keep them feeling like an important piece of the puzzle. An engaged employee takes the goals of the company as his/her own goals and goes out of their way to obtain results for the company.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen that a lot of businesses close down or reduce their daily workload in one way or another. Managers need to make use of employee engagement strategies to ensure that their employees remain focused and motivated to achieve top-notch results for the company. These employee engagement strategies show employees that their employers have their best interests at heart.
Some employee engagement strategies that can be applied this period include:
- Consider remote work and benefits for employees: The COVID-19 virus is easily spread when people come in contact with each other. The number of cases has risen almost exponentially across the globe, rapidly nearing 2m infections as of this writing, forcing businesses to shut down and keep people home. Companies that still need to function in this period need to consider the option of remote work for their employees.
- Work at Home Special Compensation package: Employees that work from home also need to be compensated because they may be working in conditions that are not ideal for them to achieve optimum results.
Companies need to remember that these employees that are working remotely still have to achieve the same results or give the same input that they would give if they weren’t confined to their houses. This is why employees need to feel safe and reassured that the companies that they work for treasure and value them. Employees can be rewarded with “stay at home” packages and other incentives that would make them stay at home period easier for them. Doing this boosts employee morale and keeps them happy and motivated to keep churning in good results for the company.
4. Incentivize more work-life balance
More often than not, an unhappy employee is usually an unproductive employee and a happy employee is usually a productive employee. Managers need to check up on their employees this period and find out how they are coping.
Physical health is paramount but an employee that is in a bad place mentally may not be able to put in premium effort at work. Checking to see that an employee is doing well this period helps keep the employee engaged and focused. Companies should encourage breaks and activities that put the mind at ease to get optimum work results.
5. Make Fast-Continuous-Honest Communication a top priority
Nothing destroys human relationships faster than a lack of communication. This is true for businesses and is especially important in the current COVID-19 pandemic period. Companies need to make extra efforts to ensure that they remain relevant during this period and even after the pandemic is over.
Using a food production company as a case study, it is essential that the food company reaches out to its customers to alert them of any changes or promotions that they may be running at the moment. It is important that your customers can still trust and rely on you for the product that you are known for. Companies can reach out to their customers by sending texts to them reassuring them that they are still operational and encouraging them during this period. Delivery companies need to let their customers know if they are still in business and how they plan to run the delivery business smoothly and still maintain standard health practices. Measures like this help to put the mind of customers at rest and allow them to continually patronize these companies.
For employees, communication is just as important as employees want to be kept abreast of all the happenings in the company. A lot of employees are currently scared right now as their jobs are not guaranteed due to the sudden COVID-19 pandemic. Transparent leadership and communication involve companies always ensuring that their employees are always in the know about the latest happenings in the company.
If such a company is facing financial challenges and its employees are aware, then these engaged employees can up their productivity game or do whatever they can to ensure such a company doesn’t fold up. Companies that keep employees in the dark are usually the ones that end up laying off their entire staff without warning. This can be avoided if employees are well informed and can plan to not be left stranded if such a company folds up.
6. Cyber Security and Technology Revamps
To keep businesses relevant, many companies will have to invest in building resilient technological infrastructures, or renting services, in order to keep operations going on, employees communicating and being productive (VPNs, Messengers, Videoconferencing software, increased network bandwidth, tablets/laptops, etc.). Working from home, virtually, remotely however you want to call it has become the new normal, and it will last for a while – so, we businesses are better served if they have all they need to make a reality in place asap.
Having said all that, hackers and other cyber criminals will be trying to take advantage of the chaos, and the fact that many organizations will try to come up with any simple system to work remotely with nearly no investment in security. Therefore, it’s worth getting your IT and security specialists do their magic on this one.
7. Rethink Supply Chain / Innovation Investments
One of the biggest eye-openers from the coronavirus crisis was definitely how unprepared most companies were to keep business running smoothly with China closed up, and even beyond that, with the lack of proper delivery services from their local suppliers. This was a reality not just to businesses, but also for entire countries.
Every big crisis brings about a lot of innovation, although we are talking about a big recession coming up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also looking at a global effort to revamping medical health systems, testing technology, medical PPE manufacturing, supply chain and logistics innovations, greater investment in work from home/remote work technologies and potentially big reductions in the costs of renting offices, better employee engagement programs, more and more focus on being honest and openly communicating with employees and customers, and so on.
Businesses that will be at the forefront of innovation, bold, invest and spend their cash wisely, keep their top performers engaged and delivering, incentivizing innovation, and remaining relevant to their customers, are the ones that will come out of this big recession as the new leaders in their respective industries – Make sure yours is one of them by following the tips shared on this post.
In closing, companies need to constantly communicate with their investors so they always know the status of the money they have invested in the company. Keeping an investor doesn’t build trust in any way as the investor may have a wrong notion about the status of his/her money. Investors are business people also and they have to make proper decisions that ensure that they are also protected this period.
A lot of companies may already be closed down permanently and a lot more may fold up if the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse. Companies must study the trends and stay ahead of the situation to suffer as little damage as possible. While at the same time, running initiatives to keep customers and employees engaged, ensuring their products and services adapt and maintain its relevancy and affordability.
REFERENCES & FURTHER READING
1O Steps to Effective Coronavirus Crisis Leadership. https://www.inc.com/entrepreneurs-organization/10-steps-to-effective-coronavirus-crisis-leadership.html
For Savvy Entrepreneurs, an Economic Downturn Creates Opportunities. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/347323
COVID-19 Will Fuel the Next Wave of Innovation. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/347669
COVID-19: Economic Impact, Human Solutions. https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/04/10/covid-19-economic-impact-human-solutions/