From that, that shall remain nameless
Businesses have poured countless hours if not dollars into transforming culture as they navigated multi-generational workplaces, new values, and leadership requirements, and adopted pay equity. An engaged workforce, without doubt, is more productive, has lower turnover and fewer absences.
Businesses are now enjoying the return on that investment but will increase or diminish its value depending on the actions taken over the next few weeks. In fact, they are likely to define the reputation of the organization for the foreseeable future. An engaged workforce can be depended upon to help pull an organization through the most difficult challenge.
How successfully a business performs, it ability to mobilize and adapt through a crisis will be a function of how engaged the workforce is and how strong its culture. When catastrophe strikes survival instincts influence decision making and some of the actions taken in the early days of self-isolation may in retrospect be considered hasty.
More than with other recessions is a sense that this one will be resolved by working together; employees are coming before economics. This is how governments are responding to the challenge too. Stray too far from that sentiment and the stigma may stick and will manifest in an inability to attract top performers in the future.
Several pundits predict that recovery will come with a spurt. When a business adapts to the new environment by introducing or changing its products knowledge and familiarity will be critical and so where possible the sales team should be protected but recognize too that typically layoffs add as much as 20% to a business’ recovery time. Holding on for just a few more weeks may avoid significantly higher costs later but if there is no choice other than to reduce employment costs, consider furloughs or work-sharing or pay reductions first. Shed staff as a last resort with dignity, respect, and a clear rationale to ensure that engagement levels remain intact. Remember that your older employees may elect not to return and in fact, may have already mentally quit considering the lingering risk too great.
Many employers continue to actively hire and it should not be taken for granted that those let go can be attracted back when needed. There are many new competitors for your talent that will be bigger and with benefits that will be appealing should there be a second wave or, new pandemic. Skills may quickly, once again, be hard to find.
If you are an owner that was on a runway to the sale or transfer of your business prior to current events engagement, and culture will be even more valuable assets that need to be protected. They will be high on every buyer’s due diligence check-list and how the business performed during this period will be a clear sign of its durability that will impact price.
Need a Yoda? We can help. We have seen a catastrophe or two and know a thing or two and prior solutions will continue to have a role. In the great recession, we worked without fees supporting clients through difficult times. We plan to do so again through telephone consultations, The Recovery blog, The Business Health Council and our Advisory Board on Demand; a service to CEOs facing challenges that don’t have an advisory board.