For almost everybody around the world, the last few weeks have been pretty rough.
The COVID-19 virus has sent shockwaves through businesses and individuals.
Businesses have gone into ‘survival mode’. Reacting to the unknown with fear, cutbacks, and confusion. Decision makers have been taking it one day at a time – playing only the day that is in front of them.
But soon we’ll move from this crisis management state, to one of recovery and opportunity. And the businesses who think strategically and long-term right now, are the ones that will thrive when our new reality kicks in.
So how can you survive now, and thrive later?
The answer lies within your people.
Instead of making cutbacks and downsizing your workforce, now is the time to engage your team and their expertise to help you succeed with these 7 actions.
1. Be agile
Things are changing hour-by-hour right now. So, to survive COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to have an adaptable and nimble organisational structure in place.
You and your team’s ability to adapt project resources and priorities to overcome unexpected roadblocks, risks, or sudden market changes will give you an advantage to stay ahead of your competitors.
So, what’s the best way to become more agile?
- Adapt your service or product – If your product or service isn’t relevant in today’s climate, have your team brainstorm how you can change or adapt it to meet your customer’s current For example, can you take your offering online?
- Try new things – No one is an expert in navigating this situation. It’s new to us all. Not every business decision you make will be right, but now is the time to trial new things when your team has spare time. Whether it’s new tech developments or marketing tactics, when you emerge into the new world, you can apply your new learnings and get ahead of your competition.
2. Connect with your clients and customers
Now is the time to get your team on the phone, schedule a video conversation and send over an email full of real value.
Ask your customers questions about what they’re going through right now, and what would make their lives easier. More than ever, people need confidence, reassurance, advice and support right now. By asking questions and understanding needs, you can then provide your customers with extreme value. The focus here is on building and strengthening long term relationships that lead to sales now, or down the track.
3. Use this time to plan
Though it might not feel like it, this situation will pass. Soon enough, we’ll be going back to the office with renewed optimism.
The companies that use this time to plan will emerge as winners. You can look to plan or improve anything from your product or service, internal processes, external communications, technology and digital readiness and so on.
Your teams should also take this time to ask themselves what your customers’ “new reality” looks like when we emerge out the other side and how their needs will have changed so they can adapt strategies accordingly.
4. Upskill your workforce
When the floodgates open and we return to “normal”, having a full-functioning, well-rested and up-skilled team will be key to emerging as a leader within your industry.
Consider cross-departmental training to encourage internal learning and engage your team in external e-learning. Our favourite online learning platforms include:
5. Get across the Government stimulus
The Government has introduced subsidy programs to support businesses in retaining their employees. To capitalise on these offers, it’s important to get in touch with your accounting team to understand exactly what you’re eligible for.
A few of the key incentives for businesses include:
- Job Keeper payments – This subsidy allows companies to receive $1,500 per fortnight, per employee, for up to six months. It is available for full-time, part-time, long-term casual, contractor and on-hire workers. To check your eligibility, read the fact sheet here.
- Unsecured loans for small and medium enterprises – The Government is providing a guarantee of 50% to small and medium enterprises for business loans of up to $250,000 with third-party providers. Find out more here.
- Cash flow assistance -The Government will provide tax-free cash flow boosts of between $20,000 and $100,000 to eligible businesses, delivered through credits in the activity statement system, when eligible businesses lodge their activity statements. See the fact sheet here.
- Energy relief – Small businesses in Australia will not pay gas or electricity charges from April to June if their charges are less than a quarter than what they were in 2019. Find out more here.
6. Explore office rental options
Your office space rental is often one of a business’s highest overheads. If your team is now working from home, you may have some options to reduce this cost, and thus keep your team onboard. Consider asking your landlord for:
- Monthly rental payments rather than quarterly
- A pause on rental payments for 3–6 months
- A 3-6 month pause with those rental payments then spread over the following 3-6 months once all has returned to normal
- A reduction in rent
- Permanent or temporary change to rent paid on a turnover-only basis
- The rent to be reduced by 50% so both landlord and tenant “share the pain”
7. Work together on creative staffing solutions
If it does come to it, instead of letting team members go completely, consider other options. A few creative solutions our team at Finite IT have seen include:
- Reducing all team members to 3 or 4 days per week
- Inviting employees to take their annual leave
- Agreeing to reduce everyone’s salaries by a particular percentage
For smaller teams, you might also consider having an open discussion with your team around possible solutions.
A final word…
Your employees will remember how you support them right now, for a long time afterwards.
Keeping them employed will not only make them loyal, grateful and hard-working right now – it will increase their retention with your company and create “lifetime fans”.
Even when employees eventually move on, their positive word of mouth on the way you handled the Coronavirus situation will last forever.
During these uncertain times, our Finite IT consultant team are here to help. No matter what employee challenges your business is going through right now, our team is available to chat – no strings attached. Please feel free to get in touch to speak with someone.