As recent weeks have demonstrated, the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be so much more than a physical health issue, but one that is adding mounting pressure to the economy and businesses at large. This alone is challenging enough but add to that the growing mental health concerns facing business leaders and their employees as they grapple with uncertainty and the adjustment to a ‘new normal’ way of working , and it’s created a seismic shock across industries like never before.
What’s inspiring however, is the way businesses are adapting and responding with remarkable resolve, empathy and resilience to navigate the ever-changing landscape we find ourselves in. But what are the key challenges being imposed and how are companies in the region pivoting during these unprecedented times to protect both the health and wealth of their people and profits?
As businesses look to protect finances one ongoing challenge has been on deciding who to furlough, who not and for how long. A position that is leaving employees questioning ‘Why me?’ as they are chosen to sit in one camp or the other.
A common- sense approach, balanced justification and open and consistent communication is playing a key role in responding to those challenges and aiding overall decision-making, but with the impact of the pandemic affecting each of us in different ways, another concern has been around the mental health of employees. As such there has never been a more important time to reach out to others, with often the simplest conversations between manager and employee going the furthest way in helping businesses protect both their current and future workforce.
Finding new routines, adjusting expectations and changing focus to outputs rather than inputs has also been critical to business leadership. With kids in tow and home schooling, no longer is the 9-5 working day wholly achievable and people are requiring flexibility and support in finding new routines.
Self-care will continue to be a priority for all, in particular for business leaders as they continue to steer their ships into unchartered waters. But with so many business owners navigating new roles and responsibilities, it’s critical they don’t forget to put their own oxygen masks on first! Taking time to reflect and reassess has never been more important and is why so many are taking advantage of the external support networks available.
Through the challenge however also comes hope and as the bright pictures of rainbows remind us, opportunity is out there. Instead of allowing companies to hibernate through this time, many individuals are using this period to work ‘on the business’, adapting, diversifying, planning and planting the seeds today, that will become the green shoots of tomorrow. Amongst other things this has included scenario planning and forecasting, looking at new market opportunities and preparing ways to transition staff back into the workforce.
One thing is for certain. Despite the challenging times ahead, we are finding new ways to adapt. As a region famed for its resilience, creativity and grit, whilst we might feel like we are alone, as a business community, we really have never been more together.