Covid 19 & Beyond

A Practical HR Perspective

No one, not one single person or business anticipated or was even prepared for the pandemic of Covid-19. As we continue to remain in the unknown, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, this pandemic is unfortunately systematically destroying as it rapidly spreads. But what it also provides, is a MASSIVE opportunity to take stock of where we are, both as humans as well as businesses to evaluate what can be done differently for the sake of people, companies, and the planet. Businesses have promptly reacted to the situation at hand, but we would like to offer that true sustained success lies in responding, not reacting.

At S&K Consulting, we have pulled together 4 simple, practical yet effective tips to allow you, as a business, to respond, not react.

Tip #1 -Telecommuting or Remote Work Measures

Our first focus is about telecommuting, commonly known as remote working.

With almost everyone working from home now, it is important that employers and employees are aware of the responsibilities that come with telecommuting and working from home.

In addition to providing employees with adequate telecommuting tools, employers should also provide guidelines on usage, as well as on confidentiality and protection of company property.

Employers Responsibility

Employers must provide clear guidelines for telecommuting (similar to an Employee Handbook) so that employees are clear about expectations specifically around the use of tools and timelines line for response. For instance, if Slack is a tool being used, guidelines about response times should be provided such as ‘Messages that include the handle for an employee must be responded to within 24 hours.

Employee’s Responsibility

Employees must ensure that they are clear about their responsibilities while telecommuting. They should ensure they equip themselves with resources like a dedicated workspace with minimal disturbance, create a schedule around the times they log in, take a break etc.

If managed well, this could be the ‘new’ way of working for the future, which will allow companies to review their workspace requirements and save millions of dollars on real estate.

Tip #2 – Build Trust: Involve your Employee!

While this may seem overly simplistic, the benefits of involving your ‘people’ in the decision-making process is extremely beneficial in these times.

Remember, they are ‘people’ who are exposed to the current world events and can empathize with your business situation and very often, the most creative and out-of-the-box ideas and solutions come from them.

What does this mean practically?

  • Have an open and honest conversation with the team, preferably 1-2-1 to understand their situation and relate on a personal level before you discuss work.
  • Clearly explain where the company stands and be completely transparent about the impact the covid-19 situation is having on the business. Honesty is most certainly the best policy here!
  • Present the options you are reviewing in terms of increasing revenue or managing costs more effectively.
  • Ask for help and suggestions for alternate sources of revenue or cost reduction.
  • If there is a pressing question and you don’t have an immediate answer, its ok to say so. Be honest and transparent; its ok to be ‘human’, especially in this situation.

Involving your team will build trust, increase buy-in, and will ensure successful implementation because employees will feel like they personally contributed to the plan. Also, don’t forget to acknowledge all suggestions and appreciate and recognize the successful ones!

Tip #3: Look for Quick Saves

This is the time to reign in employee costs and look for quick saves. With most employees working remotely, standard consumption costs like stationery, consumables, pantry supplies, utilities, etc. should have reduced by now. In addition, look at other short-term solutions to explore to maintain cash flow, such as:

  • Negotiate with your service providers for favourable terms of payment of premiums going forward, especially if its renewal time of insurances, transportation arrangements etc.
  • Pause/cancel subscriptions to online services such as trainings, memberships to associations, non-essential software etc. If you don’t have a list of all your subscriptions, review your bank statements and subscriptions that have been previously charged and decide how you wish to manage it moving forward.
  • Since travel is already restricted, ensure you process all refunds and negotiate for reduction in cancellation fees for air travel. Depending on your business type, you can save thousands of dollars on tickets, hotels, meals, per diems etc. For many companies, virtual meetings have proven successful.
  • Upskilling is important for competitive advantage, so look to change to free virtual training and/or negotiate for virtual training with existing providers with reduced costs to reflect it.
  • Review subscriptions to various tools and look to downgrade to free versions, suspend them or review autopay options.

Every penny adds up so take time to take a hard look at all your expenses. I am certain that you will find avenues to make some savings.

Tip #4: Keep People first

Our last tip is to understand revenue before people costs. The aim is to survive this situation and prepare to rebuild. Knee jerk cost cuts can damage productivity and lower output.

While there is legal compliance to consider, you have to make sure that your forecasted revenue impact reflects the changes and work out solutions from there.

This global event, which may be the biggest of our lives, has also created a significant economic impact. So, work out the revenue impact before implementing cost cuts, especially those that directly impact your team. Some options to consider are:

  • Actively discuss with your clients to understand their pain points and look to add value where possible.
  • See if you can pivot to online sales and services through marketplaces and other third-party integrations than creating standalone virtual stores.
  • Start discussions with companies that are stretched to potentially share resources.
  • When all else fails, look at a people costs in totality, and where compensation is concerned, create a plan based on SMART principles.

While we have provided four simple and easy to use tips, there are more avenues to help you to review, sustain and even grow your business. Use this situation to change your perspective from a ‘complication’ to an ‘opportunity’. As the well known author Barbara Pletcher says ‘’The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better’’

Strive to be that winner! You got this!!