Article: Confidently navigating business through the COVID-19 crisis

Strategic HR

Confidently navigating business through the COVID-19 crisis

Organisations that have successfully weathered the storm during the two devastating waves of the pandemic are those willing to adopt technology to bolster their customer experience. These are what I call breakthrough organisations.
Confidently navigating business through the COVID-19 crisis

From deploying virtual reality to tapping into the latest advancements in mobile technology, these companies saw growth potential in adapting to change when the pandemic hit the world unexpectedly. 

The lesson for all companies during this crisis was - ‘Change is the only constant.’ Those unwilling to change or adapt to the ‘new normal’ were out of the game. 

One of the ways businesses chose to change was to take the brand experience indoors and deliver it to the customers on their screens and from the safety of their homes. This became critical for brands struggling to differentiate themselves from their competitors offering similar services and experiences. Investments in technology were also crucial as they allowed companies to scale and run their business remotely, which became the need of the hour. 

Technology was just one of the factors that were played up by the sudden emergence of the pandemic. Other factors, including revenue and job losses, continued to hog news headlines as the pandemic wore on. 

Challenges Of The New Normal 

Terms of the trade furlough and retrenchment, pay or salary cuts gained common currency during the pandemic as employers sought to reduce costs because of a gloomy economic outlook. Companies of all sizes were forced to opt for a pay cut exercising across the board in order to save the company during a time of recurring monthly losses. 

While this was a hard decision to make, at the heart of their response lay honesty. Companies, especially startups, needed to be honest with their employees. 

BUSINESS TIP 1# : Tell your employees, managers and leadership team where they stand as an organisation and where you are struggling so there is transparency with respect to your decisions 

Recalibrations For The New Normal

In the new scenario, organisations that want to manage a dynamically changing environment will need to do the following to adapt: 

● Move the entire process of conducting face-to-face interviews for potential candidates online

● Use calendar apps throughout the organisation to streamline the process of daily meetings

● Have at least one fun meeting where you can catch up with your team on everything other than work

● Refrain from creating extreme dependency on any individual to allow people to be away from work when they have to 

BUSINESS TIP #2: Business leaders must bring in humour to meetings to for emotional wellness of employees This can help people feel lighter under the current circumstances. 

A Safety First Approach 

Beyond business it is imperative to take care of the well-being of your employees too. Business leaders and team managers must prioritise the safety and security of their workforce across the board. For example, it may be necessary to insist that your workforce gets vaccinated during the ongoing pandemic. Similarly, conducting regular RT-PCR tests on those staff members who are moving on the ground (such as sales of factory staff) is a must for companies. These factors will inspire confidence among consumers in your brand as well as within the company so employees feel they are cared for. 

And as managers and leaders have the crucial task of ensuring the above in their island of control, it is important that they are taken care of as well. Just as a parent needs to be healthy and well informed for his/ her kids, businesses invest their time/ resources in managers. Manager training programmes usually become peer-learning initiatives that can multiply the learnings for an organisation. It is also important so managers keep learning how to lead with the vagaries of the pandemic. 

The lockdown has been all about building resilience 

The downtime of the lockdown has allowed leaders to go back and invest in specific processes so that when the markets reopen they are armed with resources they need to serve customers in the best way possible. This investment in processes have brought together leaders during the crisis, strengthening their bond with each other - another important takeaway from the pandemic. 

BUSINESS TIP #3 - Invest in your people and processes so you are prepared for today and forearmed for tomorrow Heading Into A Third Wave? 

Business leaders worldover have now realised that all companies, big or small, need a business continuity plan. The unplanned transition to remote work (WFH) has created challenges for businesses everywhere. From

ensuring that employees have the necessary tools to work from home and those needed to manage teams no company has been, companies that have confidently navigated the crisis are those that came up with a business continuity plan quickly. This has become even more important now given that the third wave of the pandemic in the country seems imminent. 

Beyond The Mayhem 

Beyond the pandemic, businesses will continue to grow according to their chosen trajectory as long term prospects for the Indian economy appear positive. People will also move towards finding work that is good, interesting and purposeful. The future looks bright for the gig economy as a flexible workforce will be in demand in the new normal given that many companies are now opting for a hybrid work model.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #GuestArticle, #COVID-19

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