The COVID crisis has laid bare the unpreparedness of businesses to deal with a sudden crisis. The extensive lay offs, disruption in payment of salaries and lack of handholding for employees as well as clients are some of the key pointers of the chaos prevailing in the business sector over the past few months. "The economic fall out lockdown for businesses across all sectors has been immense and is surely the biggest shock to our livelihoods in nearly a century", says Yogita Tulsiani, Director and Co-founder, iXceed Solutions while adding that the massive scale of the outbreak and its sheer unpredictability make it challenging for executives to respond. People at all levels have to face challenges simultaneously: employee, customer supply chain, immediate liquidity, technology concerns.
Due to the global impact, the DR ( disaster recovery ) and BC ( business continuity) plans have not been very effective. That created a need for simultaneous resolution in all areas. In an interaction she talks about how India Inc has been responding to the crisis and what strategies can work best for damage control. Excerpts:
What have been the good practices that some businesses have shown at this time?
The most important role in business is leadership. It plays a significant role. Here are some of good practices that the top business leaders have shown are :
- Team Network: Managing the responses during the crisis
- Stimulating optimism and calmness at senior level
- Power of decision making during unprecedented situation
- Coping mechanism for social recession
- Transparent communication in the workplace
The companies are seen to be practicing these good practices in order to sustain business amid the COVID crisis.
What should comprise a sound crisis management plan according to you?
The pandemic has unleashed a lot of troubles at the workplace and many companies are coming up with a proper plan to execute crisis management. A sound crisis management plan must consist of 4 R’s which is: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination. These factors can deal a severe blow to some sort of stability. Companies are adapting the following factors to foster employees' innovation and zeal to deal with the crisis.
Resolve: In industries like Healthcare, there is a war in order to increase their capacity of beds, supplies, and trained workers. Efforts are being done to improve shortages of much-needed medical supplies. With remote work established as the default operating mode, business-continuity and employee safety plans have been escalated. To meet demand in critical areas spanning food and household supplies, some seek to accelerate the acute slowdowns in operations. Educational institutions are moving online to provide ongoing learning opportunities.
Resilience: Businesses will need to act on broader resilience plans as the shock begins to upturn established industry structures, resetting competitive positions forever. Organisations should have the resilience to navigate a crisis. As the pandemic unfolds, employees are facing lower confidence and it sabotages the productivity. In the face of these challenges, resilience is the need of the hour.
Return: Reopening businesses after a severe lockdown is addressing a lot of setbacks. Organisations need to strategize a proper plan of action to return back to the operations.
Reimagination: Organisations aim to resolve issues by creating new policies and procedures. In this new normal, companies need to develop and revamp work ethics. HR leaders should start collaborating more with employees at every level. They need to re-imagine the standards of interpersonal communication to gain the productivity amid crisis. This is how companies can embrace the workplace outlook.
What strategies can work to survive in the current situation?
In order to sustain the existence in the current situation, businesses need to prepare balance sheets and cost structures more flexible. While financial investors are one potential source, promoters, and boards are also searching for strategic investors with the knowhow, scale, and global networks to expand India’s companies.
Reshaping business portfolios for greater value creation and reallocating capital away from businesses and sectors that create less value and toward those that create more.
The infrastructure sector holds particular promise. In general, the allocation of capital and resources toward value-creating sectors should be aided by the shift toward knowledge and innovation-led businesses with minimal capital requirements.
Embedding digital and analytics to transform legacy businesses and build new ones. This pandemic has come as a wake-up call to embrace advanced technologies.
These 3 domains can be proved to be effective: digitize sales and customer experiences in B2B & B2C, digitise their supply chains and manufacturing operations, digitized ecosystems of customers, and influencers. Going digital can help promote the growth of the business in the current scenario.
Building greater safety, flexibility, and productivity into operations with reskilling the workforce can benefit the business in certain ways. Employees should be open to Reskilling and redeploying strategies. The recovery business model depends on all these factors. Build critical employee skills to your new business model including a skill set that will help employees in key parts of the business and responds well to changes.
Employee layoffs are the first reaction that companies take to tide over the crisis, how effective is this according to you?
According to me, it is not the best strategy. Instead of this, employers can pause their hiring plans and can put a freeze on non-essential role hiring. They can explore flexible work options and reduce wages across the board rather than lay off.
Also, employees should be open to reskilling and redeploying strategies. Many employers are still hiring for essential roles, and in some sectors such as health and social care and logistics, the recruitment is continuous.
Laying off in this crisis time puts a question mark on the credibility of the employer. It can have an adverse effect. When the economy improves, job seekers will avoid these employers. This is a humanitarian crisis, where people are scared for the safety of their near and dear ones. Laying off can be a harsh step. However, to ensure business continuity and to sustain the business, laying-off might be the only option in some cases.
— As told to Geetu Vaid
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