While its impact has already been felt worldwide, the scarier thing about the pandemic is that the full ramifications of its impact on various economic and business aspects are still unknown. With no end in near sight, business owners and leaders are left scrambling to build an action plan in order to effectively manage the crisis. The most important goal for crisis management is more than just survival during the pandemic but to ensure business continuity once the pandemic is over.
Assessing the Impact of the Crisis
The uncertainty concerning the long-term outlook of Covid-19 has been established. And yet, the challenges that businesses and leaders face are rapidly mounting – from health issues, social distancing measures, and disruptions in business activities. This is a time when business continuity is definitely threatened. Thankfully, solutions do exist and the first step, according to leading French crisis PR Firm, LaFrenchCom, is to assess the extent of impact that the crisis has had on your organization.
When tackling the crisis, you can divide that into three steps. The first step is to deal with the shock of the situation. Your goal is to help your staff and employees understand the situation and to give them a sense of reassurance during these uncertain times. The second step is to work towards enduring as a business organization. With many businesses opting to shut down, this is the time when proper management of people and business activity will make the most impact.
Finally, you can think about business recovery once you have established the first two steps above. This step involves planning how you can resume business activities (if there were any disruptions) and to assess the damage. Once you have all of these in place, you can slowly but gradually work your way through recovery.
Crisis Management Ideas
Every business is unique therefore, it is important to take on a personalized approach depending on the innate challenges and risks your business face. However, you can start building a recovery plan so that your business can navigate the new normal and survive this crisis.
Here are some of the strategies well worth considering:
- Always beware of hype or news cycles.
During a time of crisis, it is important for your organization to come up with a set of protocols on consuming news and other kinds of information. When watching or listening to news reports, it can be difficult to distinguish the hard facts from mere speculation. You would not want to make critical business decisions based on mere speculation. And yet, this is a reality that your organization will be facing in the midst of a crisis and with information changing all the time – it would be hard to distinguish what is real from what is not.
Before you overreact to the news and any information you get, make sure to have a calibrated view first. You should always be critical about where the information is coming from, especially the ones that have a direct impact on your business activity. Always check the sources before you take action.
- Review workforce locations.
The next priority in managing the pandemic crisis is to establish locations of your workforce. Your employees are the lifeblood of your company; making sure they are safe and healthy should be given primary concern. You need to establish the locations of your workforce to ensure they are not within vulnerable territories. If they are, then you need to come up with a crisis management plan on how they can continue working. Think about the possibility of working from home. If this is possible, how do you equip them with the tools needed to continue business activity from home?
It is also a good opportunity to revisit policies and protocols when dealing with absences due to sickness or other health concerns. If your business involves a lot of travel, you might want to look into the possibility of rescheduling or canceling them. There are some aspects that can be viewed on a case-to-case basis but it is important to clearly define the policies on these beforehand.
- Use forecasts with caution.
With so much unknown about the pandemic, there have been a lot of “experts” chiming in on the subject. As mentioned above, take everything you read or hear on the media with a grain of salt. Information is changing all the time. While there are experts on the field of public health and epidemiology, as well as in the business and economic aspects, always check with multiple sources before you make any judgment or business decisions.
Each epidemic is unique and ever-changing. When deciding your organization’s next move, use guidance from an expert opinion. At the same time, do not be afraid to constantly reframe your understanding of the situation and be adaptable in your policies.
- Identify potential areas of failure.
During a time of crisis, certain aspects of your business will fail, if not altogether. The best way to prevent your organization from collapsing from underneath you is to prepare ahead of time. Always anticipate failure in this time of crisis; this is the best way for you to mitigate those risks and prevent that from happening.
What areas of your organization are at highest risk? Do you have the right people, tools, or approach to step in and address them? When you can identify vulnerabilities, you can take calculated steps to minimize the spread of those vulnerabilities so it does not affect the entire organization.
- Reskill, not just retain.
In light of the pandemic, many businesses are forced to furlough or let go of their employees altogether. But if you plan on recovering after the pandemic is over, then letting your employees go should be a final resort. The workforce management is one of the important factors that will determine the future of your organization, especially given the fact that hiring and recruiting new employees will be costly. The best option, therefore, is to retain your staff and reskill them.
Use this opportunity to equip your employees with new skills that will help them adapt . Assess what skills you need from your workforce in order to survive now and thrive in the future. Training your employees with a new skill is a smart thing to do because you can catch up quickly once the recovery season ensues. Plus, your employees will have the right set of skills that will enable you to cope if changes arise in the future, aka the new normal.
- Efficient communication is more important now than ever.
Getting information is not equal to being informed. Maintain a good communication system within your organization so you can share and disseminate correct information with ease. If you can prevent disinformation or the confusion about the virus, then you are one step ahead in your plan towards business recovery. Your employees will look to you for reassurance so keep the communication lines open.
Business leaders should be viewed as the source of truth within the organization. Communicating often is also vital. Always keep your employees aware that they are heard, too, and that their needs are taken into account.
How to Ensure Business Continuity
Ensuring business continuity is a priority for businesses when dealing with the covid-19 crisis and moving forward. There have already been many disruptions so far so you have to look a couple of steps ahead if you want to continue your business operations.
To ensure business resilience, you want to put priority on your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. This is even more important knowing that you are dealing with a health crisis. You need to assess if it is safe for your employees to physically return to the workplace. If yes, it is important to observe and abide by the minimum health standards set by the local government. If not, then you might want to re-assess other means of keeping your business operational. This will include enhancing your health and safety capabilities to maintain cleanliness and sanitation and to manage workforce health.
Another way to go about this is to evaluate your current workforce and talents that are available. Identify which ones are essential to return to the physical workforce and which ones can work remotely. Due to the limitations caused by social distancing, it is also important to re-assess the scheduling for your employees’ return to work. Deploying them in shifts is a good way to ensure business continuity while sticking to minimum health protocols.
In the end, the government and public policies will serve as your guide as you make your return to business. It is the business leaders’ responsibility to stay abreast and to understand these policies in order to ensure proper implementation. This also means that you have to keep up with health data, which eventually underpins any decisions the government makes on policies, so you can predict and prepare for changes of government policies, if any.
If you have not already, use this time to digitize your business. If you have been putting off digital transformation, the crisis is a great reminder that this is the time to kick start that! Cloud and wireless systems thrived in the pandemic due to the limitations in physical contact imposed by the health crisis. Whether it is working from home using digital tools or allowing contactless payment options for your business, going digital is the primary option for businesses during the pandemic era and it will be within the foreseeable future.
The crisis on Covid-19 is disruptive and concerning on a global scale. However, the way you respond to it and manage that crisis could spell the difference for the future of your business. Make sure you have an ironclad approach in the crisis management and the eventual recovery of your business.