Humanity has regularly been faced with challenges and shocks. Take stock market crashes or natural disasters for example, we are always caught by surprise. Even with planning and risk mitigation the impact and destruction is unavoidable. In addition to proper business continuity planning, how leaders respond to a crisis is at least as important. A recent article on company sustainability in crisis time, published in 2019 by the renowned scientific journal publisher MDPI, concludes that communication is key.
“The stake of the behavior of the human factor during crises can be short term resilience and the long term sustainability of the company. This can be achieved by a careful communication to all stakeholders. The study showed that the employees are not familiar to whom and who shall communicate during a crisis. There is a clear need for guidance.”
In line with the stakeholder communication challenge for companies around the world, it is becoming clear that businesses that were blindsided by the virus outbreak at first, are the ones that started learning the soonest. How is this evident? As a global community facing a common threat for the first time in our lives, solidarity appears to be a strong driver for behavior. And at the center of businesses trying to maintain operations and ensure business continuity, HR leaders around the world are being confronted with an opportunity to manage the people effect.
In the spirit of solidarity, Seedlink pulled together a group of HR leaders from Asia to share their Covid-19 learnings with HR leaders from the rest of the world. On March 26th, Johnny Xiong (The Coca-Cola Company), Florence Tsang (AIA), Sue Wei (Hays) and Robin Young (Seedlink) came together, online of course, to share their insights and answer the most eminent questions on how to respond to the Corona virus outbreak. Watch the full recording of the 1-hour webinar.
The overarching outcome of the webinar made it clear that frequent engagement and human connection is absolutely crucial at this time. Showing understanding for different circumstances and keeping employees involved and engaged across all levels of the organization is key to maintaining morale.
Other key takeaways from the webinar:
1) Employee safety is key - give a higher priority to employee safety than business continuity
2) Visible leadership - let employees know that they are supported by their leaders
3) Regular and clear communications – maintain a rhythm in communication on the virus and the company situation. Make a clear distinction between channels of communication
Naturally, there was also discussion about the importance of considering your post-corona strategy, such as managing liquidity by lowering expenses, the potential of downsizing teams and improving productivity. In the immediate term, however, panelists stressed the importance of a regular Drumbeat of Communications. Stay close to your people, understand how they are feeling (check out the Morale Monitor here), virtually engage with them, and support them creatively during an anxious time for many. Remember, your people are your most valuable asset and in the long-term, can help to minimize the impact of this crisis on your business.