The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is, without doubt, a major concern on everyone’s minds for several reasons. What initially started as a localised health crisis has crystallised into a global economic issue as many businesses can no longer continue with operations as usual.
With 66 countries on partial or full lockdown and some more on the way, no one knows how significant the economic loss will be. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Interim Economic Assessment report, annual global G.D.P. growth is projected to drop to 2.4% in 2020 as a whole, from an already weak 2.9% in 2019.
On account of our nation’s high dependence on exports & commodities sales to the Far East & Asia; if the COVID-19 outbreak continues as feared, the economic impact would be staggering. This would significantly affect the short-term growth of Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to a dramatic downturn on the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
It is therefore imperative that business leaders begin to find & take practical, sustainable and sensible actions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and navigate it successfully.
As a business leader, you need to act quickly in the short term, make the changes to survive the long term effects of the pandemic as well as position to benefit from the incoming changes.
We understand that when faced with a crisis, most leaders are forced to think and behave in ways that feel unfamiliar. Reading and implementing the 7steps in these guidelines will help you to navigate your business through this slowdown successfully, ensure you remain calm, maintain a sense of perspective as well as steady your business to minimise losses and keep your operations as healthy as possible through this pandemic.
Successfully Navigate Your Business Through the COVID-19 Pandemic With These 7 Steps
Step 1: Create a Dedicated Crisis Team
Now more than ever, every organisation should have a crisis management team consisting of people within the organisation’s internal network. Employees with tactical responsibilities and the desired crisis management skills must be considered. To get the most out of the team, it is crucial to ensure every member is well trained and informed.
For countries with existing crisis management policies, it is important to adapt and tailor each one to specific COVID-19 challenges. It is also necessary to see beyond the imminent threats and plan towards the long term effects of the pandemic.
While Nigeria currently doesn’t have an outbreak, we have seen countries experience overnight spikes in infection rate. Proactively preparing for this potential crisis can determine how well your business navigates the immediate effects and aftermath.
Step 2: Craft a Communication Strategy
Every business and its leaders must craft a clear communication strategy and properly address the present pandemic situation. It should include plans to manage the outbreak while taking into consideration the organisation, its investors, business customers, suppliers and employees.
A clear communication strategy will ensure that employees know where to go for accurate, credible, and reliable information to navigate the disease outbreak. The crafted communication strategy could be deployed via several different channels – the organisation’s intranet, emails and by designated people within the organisation. It is also necessary to ensure that it is a channel that can be accessed by all staff, including those on the front line or those working remotely.
Step 3: Create Space to Scan the Longer-term Horizon
Not to be caught pants-down like some countries which failed to prepare for the spread of Coronavirus; effective business leaders must adequately plan & allocate resources to cover for any future development. Resources should include everything from the people within an organisation to its financial resources.
Task your people with researching and forecasting other risks that might come up in the future, which may significantly impact your business operations. In forecasting, the response window for a crisis is measured in months, while recovery is measured in years. Forecasting can help make the company’s emergence from the crisis more substantial and sustainable. Now is the time to create a crisis plan that’s right for your business.
Step 4: Increase the Firm’s Operational Capacity to Accommodate Remote Employee Access and Learning
With the virus being declared a pandemic by W.H.O, many organisations are focusing on enabling employees to work remotely. For this to be accomplished, organisations need to increase their firm’s technological capacities by reinforcing their I.T. infrastructure to support these arrangements.
While the official response to COVID-19 in Nigeria isn’t mandating this course of action, it is wise to take steps to prepare for this possibility. This means preparing your organisation to accommodate remote work operations in a way that does not affect productivity and learning. This also means leveraging remote learning platforms and systems to ensure your employees remain sharp and informed during a lockdown.
To achieve this, it is essential to identify and acquire the equipment, software, and tools your staff needs to operate remotely.
Watch this COVID-19 awareness video we created with PEERLESS to keep our staff updated about the disease outbreak.
Step 5: Identify Potential Points of Failure
Identifying possible points of failure should be a continuous activity for every organisation regardless of the state of the business environment. At this period, in particular, business leaders need to sit down and ask critical questions in every area of their business.
For example, what teams and individuals do critical processes or services depend on? Do you have employees with the right skills that can step into critical roles if need be? Can steps be taken to reduce the level of human interaction in your organisation? What areas of your business can not survive a remote workforce? What services do you provide that would become irrelevant due to the outbreak?
Step 6: Create an Emergency Fund
With the current state of the global economy posing a threat of recession in the Nigerian economy, it is necessary to create an emergency fund for your organisation. The effect of the COVID-19 virus on businesses around the world is growing. If organisations do not manage their resources to weather this adversity, they will suffer.
An emergency fund is not only necessary to navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic and the possible slowdown in the Nigerian economy but to also ensure the business recovers smoothly when the effects subside.
Step 7: Stay Connected with Customers Through the Outbreak
The fear and prevention of the spread of the virus across the country has seen some businesses take extra health and safety measures that may slow down or put a halt to business completely.
Following the spread of the virus in other countries, there is a possibility that more businesses might adopt similar measures if the trend persists. However, this is not a reason to lose touch with your clients. Instead, it’s time to keep them engaged and in the loop during this downtime.
Here are a few strategies to stay connected with your customers;
- Let your clients know what you’re doing to prevent the spread of the virus
- Increase your social media presence
- Offer online services and serve your clients through digital channels
We are unclear of what the next few weeks and months could present. Though we currently do not have an outbreak in Nigeria, we are not insulated from the effects of the global spread.
Conversations will likely shift from prevention to protection of the workforce and business survival. If this is the case, organisations will have to be agile to respond appropriately. When organisations are proactive in preparation for a crisis, if it does happen, they tend to recover quicker.
We wish we could tell you that things are business as usual and we can safely ignore developments around us. Sadly, we can’t. If you are feeling apprehensive, uncertain or frustrated, you are not alone. If this has already hurt your bottom line, know that others (including us) are feeling your pain.
One big lesson we learned from the last recession is that uncertain times can represent fantastic opportunities. Whether we want them to or not, they force us to evaluate what’s working and reinvent our business model.
Rather than contracting and doing what we’ve always done, we can expand our horizons and leap out of our comfort zone. Stay safe, remain strategic, and prepare proactively!!!
Please leave a comment below and tell us how you plan to prepare your organisation against the impending economic crisis.
About Workforce Group
We help organisations strengthen executive effectiveness and improve overall employee performance to deliver superior business results. As a leading provider of end-to-end, result-focused organisational learning solutions in Nigeria, we help business leaders identify and bridge the critical performance gaps required to help them outperform the competition.
We work with leaders across all levels in the organisation to help them make better decisions and convert those decisions into actions that drive results.
By co-creating solutions to address our clients’ business challenges as well as adopting a blended approach on each of our programmes to assure learning transfer, we are able to provide our learners with an immersive and practical learning experience
To learn more about how we can support the leadership of your organisation and in turn, help drive your business strategy, visit here to get started today.