Post-Covid Recovery Guide for Your Business
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a far-reaching impact on our lives, relationships, communities, businesses, and economies. It has changed the way we operate our lives and organizations. While some of these changes were voluntary, many were forced upon us by the situation.
We’ve seen innovative solutions as well as witnessed the downfall of companies that failed to adapt. For most managers, although the pandemic has wiped your strategy clipboard clean, consider the valuable lessons you’ve learned as a silver lining.
Use this wisdom and knowledge to reconfigure your business as you regroup, recover, and push forward.
The 3 Phases of Pandemic Response
Although the currently dominant Covid-19 variants are not as deadly and disruptive as their early versions, Covid-19 is still not beaten. The threat of another economy-stopping surge of cases is still around the corner so there’s no room for complacency.
In general, most businesses’ pandemic response strategies can be categorised into three phases:
Phase 1️⃣: Navigating the now
This phase involves immediate actions that are geared towards keeping your workforce safe from infection and making sure that the essential parts of your business continue to operate. This so-called “response” phase is typically a short period of chaotic activity and high-intensity effort to stop the company from bleeding.
Phase 2️⃣: Planning for recovery
This medium-term phase usually involves making a coordinated and organised effort to stabilise business operations. During this period, companies often create a plan to restore the business to a scalable state. Capabilities where you need to reopen, rehire, resupply, and re-budget are also identified and strengthened.
We think it is safe to say that most businesses in regions where the spread of Covid-19 is controlled are already in this phase. Hence, the reason why we published this post-Covid recovery guide.
Phase 3️⃣: Leading and living the new normal
After Covid-19, there’s no going back to what the world was like before the pandemic. With the new normal, businesses that want to thrive should learn how to conduct workflows and processes in new and repeatable ways. Using the lessons learned during the pandemic as a foundation, managers must rethink ecosystems and invest heavily in virtualisation to push the business forward.
Key Areas to Focus on After Covid-19
To meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses and organisations must be agile and decisive. Now, as we move into the next phase (recovery), businesses need to identify and seize opportunities that come up.
Here are some of the key areas that we think every manager should focus on after Covid-19.
1. Build a more resilient and durable business
One of the main reasons why many businesses failed during the pandemic is because most of them are unprepared. Resilient and durable businesses have the opportunity to turn any form of disruption (e.g. another pandemic) into an advantage. So, how can you create long-term resilience for your organisation after Covid-19?
Here are some tips:
- Identify the valuable lessons you’ve learned during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Use this knowledge to plan and prepare for the next big disruption. For example, you can create a crisis response team charged with the task of designing a crisis response strategy that’s aligned with your business goal and purpose.
- Eliminate the walls between teams and resilience competencies by integrating them into your organization. Provide the necessary tools and technologies to coordinate an effective crisis response.
- Create a culture of resilience in the company. It starts with the highest level of governance. Regularly revisit and update your crisis management structure and crisis response strategy.
2. Rethink your supply chain
One of the most heavily affected areas during the pandemic are supply chains for B2B and B2C industries. After Covid-19, expect supply chain competitiveness to go beyond the physical supply chain to include a deep understanding of customer experiences and how you can fulfil that need.
- Without sacrificing responsiveness and costs, you must learn how to deliver exceptional experiences to your customers. To develop this strategy, you will need to gain a deeper understanding of your customer’s needs.
- Create an ecosystem to support your customer interactions throughout the value chain.
- Take advantage of digital capabilities. Using a human-centred approach and applying the right digital solutions at the right moment can create an exceptional customer experience.
3. Know that the way we work has changed forever
The future of work is now. This pandemic has proven to us that most of the workforce can still work productively even if they are away from their cubicles in the office. Studies indicate that the remote work trend is more likely to continue post-covid with more than three-quarters of the workforce expecting to work at home at least 3 days a week.
While some businesses may not continue their remote-work policy after the pandemic, a majority of organisations around the globe will continue to allow their employees to work remotely because remote working:
- Allows companies to optimise their expenses by reducing office space rentals
- Increases team and individual productivity
- Fosters an office culture that is more flexible and centred on employees’ needs
- Can easily adapt to changing market needs and evolving trends
To make your business more resilient in the future, you need to decide on what working models you want your people to experience.
To help you make a decision, here’s what we’ve gathered so far:
- Remote working is becoming the norm. Surveys say that 72% of people prefer to work remotely with a few in-person or office days in between.
- Employees want to re-skill especially on digital competencies.
- Workers yearn for a more inclusive workforce. It’s the 21st century, any form of discrimination at work should be in the past.
4. Employee mental health is now a priority
The Coronavirus pandemic has seriously altered our professional and personal lives. Social distancing policies, quarantine lockdowns, loss of income, fear of the future, the anxiety of getting infected, and suspension of productive activities have a profound impact on the mental health of workers. Protecting employees’ well-being should be one of the top priorities of your company’s pandemic recovery plan.
Here are some steps that you can do to improve employee mental health:
- Allow employees to get a paid time-off for mental health
- Provide your employees with programs on how to cope with stress and remain calm in the chaos
- Develop and implement an employee assistance program where mental health counsellors can offer advice and consultations
- Encourage employees to use their paid time off
- Provide fitness classes to help boost physical and mental health
- Offer emotional support
- Make use of technology in promoting mental health awareness in the workplace (e,g, webinars)
As a manager, one of your top priorities is to make sure that your employees feel safe even after the pandemic. Workers who feel safe continue to work hard and stay productive.
5. Create a more diverse and inclusive workplace
There’s more to a diverse and inclusive workplace than just recruiting employees of various religions, ethnicities, ages, gender, and world-views. While you can take some pride in that as HR, recruitment is just half the equation (diversity). The real challenge in workplaces is creating and promoting an inclusive culture among its employees.
Here are some practical steps on how you can foster an inclusiveness in your organization:
- It begins with educating your leaders – as an HR leader, never make the mistake of assuming that your leaders know what inclusion means. At the end of the day, your managers and executives are at the front lines with your employees. Their example and experience will play a very instrumental role in enforcing your diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Organize an inclusion council – if you want your diversity and inclusion initiatives to make a significant impact, you will need people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This is where an inclusion council comes in. Ideally, an inclusion council should be made up of 8 to12 influential leaders and they should be as diverse as possible. One of the primary roles of the council is to be involved in the goal-setting around hiring, retaining, and advancing your diverse workforce. They are also to serve as a communications channel between the C-suite and regular employees.
- Respect and celebrate employee differences – one of the best ways to show that you value and respect your employees’ diverse differences is to invite them to share their traditions and characteristics in the workplace. For example, you can do a potluck night where employees can showcase the foods from their home countries.
- Listen to your employees – in inclusive workplaces, employees have a voice. There are many ways to do this. For example, you can make use of employee surveys, organize focus groups to drill down on inclusion issues and hold town hall meetings.
A diverse and inclusive workplace allows employees to flourish — allowing your company to benefit from the talents, skills, engagement, and ideas that each diverse employee brings. It also increases retention among your workforce.
6. Address concerns about job security
“When a large-scale crisis event (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) occurs, it is common for employees to have concerns about potential job losses – the feeling of job insecurity. To alleviate this feeling, it can be helpful for organizations to reduce the extent to which employees perceive these events as novel, disruptive and critical. This can be achieved by providing clear guidelines to direct employees’ behaviour in the workplace, by taking actions to help employees maintain their regular work routines and activities and by providing continued support for employees’ career development. – Yiduo Shao PhD, Warrington College of Business
The Covid-19 pandemic has separated millions of people from their workplace and normal day to day routines. In most cases, this disruption has led to feelings of anxiety, lack of team cohesion, and a drop in employee morale. Addressing job security concerns is a very important part of your post-Covid recovery strategy.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Show appreciation – small acts like praising, recognising, and showing appreciation for an employee’s effort and contributions can go a long way. Make it a habit among your superiors to say thank you for a job well done — either verbally or through email. Visible acts like a leader talking about an employee’s accomplishment during team meetings and allowing employees to work closely with senior leadership are also key.
- Offer personalised support – no two people in your company are the same. People have different living arrangements, family situations, and socio-economic conditions. Employees appreciate it when their leaders reach out to them to check on their families, provide direction, and redistribute tasks to accommodate changing needs.
- Give your employees a voice in decision making – one of the best ways to ease feelings of insecurity and anxiety is to make employees feel that they “belong”. Allow your employees to voice out their concerns, You can also hold “what’s your opinion” meetings where employees can share their ideas and raise questions on certain issues. By giving your employees a voice, you are signalling to them that they are capable and that they are an integral part of the organization.
- Loosen things up – one of the ways to reduce the stress of the pandemic is to designate time and space for team bonding. These can be happy hours, story sharing time, playing games, or virtual coffee breaks. These activities help people to get to know each other in an informal setting. It also builds camaraderie and motivates people to perform better in their jobs.
While the Covid-19 pandemic is still far from being over, it’s great to see that businesses are now inching toward recovery.
To reiterate, businesses and organizations must focus on these 6 key areas:
- Build a more resilient and durable business.
- Rethink your supply chain.
- Know that the way we work has changed forever.
- Employee mental health is now a priority.
- Create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
- Address concerns about job security.
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