The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced employers to address a new set of issues outside of what was previously considered “normal.” Not only do they need to think about profits and employee engagement, employers need to think about maintaining communication with employees, enacting work from home policies, and managing higher than usual stress levels among their employees.
It’s a hard-balancing act - but important for more reasons than just keeping your business above water. After the dust settles, how leadership managed this crisis will be remembered by potential candidates and customers, making a potentially out-sized impact on your employer brand.
What is Crisis Management?
Crisis management is how businesses react when the world interrupts our normal lives. While a crisis may vary in nature, an effective crisis management strategy may help companies navigate bad PR, increased public scrutiny, or negative media coverage.
Crises incite an elevated level of panic and stress, but a strong crisis management policy can help business react in a prepared and measured manner. While the specific nature and the severity of a crisis may differ, a sound crisis management plan can empower a business to address the most pressing and important issues that are of concern in the immediate future.
Why is Crisis Management Important?
Crisis management is important because it helps employers plan the best course of action to combat unforeseen conditions. The plan needs to address all aspects of the business, not just the more obvious ones.
It’s essential that companies also are aware that their employer branding is being put to the test by their employees and job seekers – making hasty decisions could be detrimental to business outlooks. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has warned against the idea of rushing employees back to work during the ongoing pandemic. He made it clear that it’s not only a safety issue, but also an employer branding issue. If your company rushes back to reopening and people immediately get sick, you’ll be “that company” for years to come.
According to Leslie Gaines Ross, “there’s a reputable reckoning that’s going to occur,” in the upcoming months, and potentially years. As the world economy recovers, people will return to work, consumers will return to their normal habits, and candidates will apply for jobs again. Things will be different than before, as the memory of decisions made now will still resonate. Companies that made poor decisions may struggle to retain employees, especially if competitors reacted in more positive and proactive ways.
What Will Be the Impact of Crisis-Induced Decisions?
Companies adopting a more proactive approach are already being praised for stepping up and playing their part in the community. According to Forbes, 50 companies, like Microsoft and Google, have started organizing funds for displaced workers, while others such as Adobe have begun to make their services available for free. These businesses have been applauded for lessening impact on their employees and customers.
While not all businesses can copy these moves exactly, those that are able to take similar actions will benefit from positive publicity both during and after the outbreak.
How Can Companies Emerge Stronger from a Crisis?
The two most important questions companies must consider through this crisis are how to look after their employees and how to look after their customers. Ensuring employees retain their job increases positive employee feedback which in turn improves company ratings and reviews. Keeping customers happy through continued business, despite a crisis, reinforces company reputation and a brand that truly cares about their people.
The future seems to be very uncertain, especially with regards to the economic effects of COVID-19. Being able to show a clear concern for people, above the focus on business performance and profit, will play a major role in how companies emerge from this downturn. By taking the correct steps and preventative measures, many companies will create a stronger reputation while those who came under fire during this time may struggle to rebound.