Our world is transformed and there is no question about it. It is a harsh reality for millions of people all across the world struggling both personally and professionally. Those who are affected with the virus and who have fallen victim to it have left irreplaceable voids in the lives of their loved ones, friends and colleagues.
National and global governing bodies have officially declared that the world economy is in recession. As leaders of organizations, it is up to CEOs and other senior leaders to steer their ships through these stormy seas. Several businesses have quickly adapted to the highly transformed COVID-19 world. Others are following suit and doing everything they can to salvage the situation. This entails prioritizing employee well-being above everything else. However, in order to achieve this, you must prepare to take some drastic steps which include difficult decisions, changes in attitudes and mindsets.
Here we list out the top 7 must do’s to ensure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is minimized for your organization and employees.
Maintain Courage and Lead by Example
It is easy to make excuses and give up citing the situation at hand. However, no matter how challenging, it is imperative for CEOs and senior leaders to not only have courage themselves but also give courage to their teams and employees. Quitting is never the answer. Instead, do the best you can without pulling the plug.
Focus on Employee Well-Being
Of course, you are concerned about employees’ well-being but in a time like this, you will have to take it up several notches. Personal calls may not be possible for very large organizations but many CEOs are swearing by it. A personal call to every employee asking how they are coping in this difficult situation will be extremely encouraging for them. If a phone call to each and every employee is not possible, schedule an online meeting with smaller groups on a regular basis.
Secondly, be realistic with deadlines given that several employees are not working in an ideal working environment. This is because working from home in this situation is challenging and employee progress will be much slower. So anticipate slowdowns and set realistic goals for your team.
Frank and Honest Communication
One cannot emphasize enough the importance and effectiveness of honesty especially in a time like this. Employees are going to be looking to you, their CEO and senior leaders, for support and guidance. Respect their faith in you and be fully honest with them about how the business is doing and what to expect. It would be unwise to sugarcoat harsh truths and keep your employees in the dark. In fact, you’ll be doing employees a great favour by telling them like it is. Frank and open communication with employees will help them to chart out a future course in an uncertain time.
Make Work From Home Supportive and Fun
Chances of recovering from the COVID-19 crisis anytime soon look very bleak. Hence work from home is going to be the norm for some time to come and it is important to make it worthwhile for you and your employees.
You must understand that work from home is not going to be easy for anyone. Most employees will be managing work, children and household chores as schools, daycare and domestic help are no longer in service. It is essential for CEOs and leaders to empathize with them.
While checking in with employees, doing weekly review meetings and talking about work don’t forget to have fun. Let’s take the example of online retailer Zappos.
Zappos is doing a great job by engaging its employees in a supportive and friendly virtual environment. Right from team-building games and huddles where employees talk about how they are coping in this crisis to playing team building games and learning new hobbies, Zappos has created a wonderful work from home environment. Creating a friendly and supportive environment for employees will be very beneficial to your business. Your employees will appreciate their organization’s efforts to care for them in crisis and return the favour by putting in extra effort for the organization.
Communicate, Connect and Reach out to Peers
Do not hesitate to reach out to your peers and contemporaries. A crisis like this calls for collective action to work on solutions and do something for the greater good. When the pandemic ends, your contribution will be valued. It’s not about competition but about taking the opportunity to be remembered as leaders and organizations that went that extra mile to make a difference to society. Chances are your contemporaries are in the same boat with the same problems. Interacting with them may just lead to solutions you alone could never have thought about.
Ask yourself, would I refuse to help anyone given the situation? If your answer is no, it probably means that others will respond to you in the same way if you ask them for help. So reach out, get together and create something wonderful for the larger community.
Engage With Customers
While we are busy making sense of the COVID-19 situation, don’t forget to connect with the most important people – your customers. Your customers have been loyal to your company and/ or brand. Now, it is time to return the favour. Yes, we understand that several businesses have simply shut down so where is the question of engaging with customers you may be wondering. Well, engaging with customers in their time of need may just make or break your brand which relies so heavily on customer relations. Customer engagement at this time can be achieved at a fraction of the cost by way of holding webinars on mental health, financial advice, children’s activities, sharing motivational content in regular emails and newsletters, app alerts etc. Basically, anything that shows your customers you care.
This kind of communication will make your customers appreciate you and retain brand loyalty.
Experiment, but Don’t Stop or Quit
According to Margaret Heffernan, tech CEO and author of Uncharted: How to Map the Future, there is always opportunity in crisis. Crises are a time where businesses and entrepreneurs can do something completely different and stand out. She encourages businesses to do something completely offbeat if they have to but strongly advises against giving up. Some businesses have switched to completely new business portfolios in order to stay afloat. If it comes to this, see this as a great learning curve and experience for your organization.
The key is not giving up but striving and thriving in the face of adversity. This attitude will transform you and your business for the better.