The world’s large businesses are all in different circumstances. Airlines and hospitality amongst many others are already particularly hard hit. Others may be less so. None will be untouched by what is happening in the environments where they operate. You will be facing staff and stock shortages, changes in demand and markets, extreme fluctuations in share price and many other challenges. My advice is to act quickly and decisively. Take responsibility for the Public Health choices you make. Don’t wait on others, WHO guidance is clear. The experience from countries who have ‘flattened the curve’ is that speed is critical. Delaying the onset heightens both the immediate problem and the length and depth of economic impact. You and your brands form major influences on public behaviour.
This situation is not going to alleviate soon so the quicker you are able adapt your business the better. Delaying actions now is only storing greater problems for the years ahead. Watch what happens in countries ‘furthest along the curve’, how long they stay in lock down, how they adapt and how they transition out. Look at the learning in Asia from the SARS epidemic. Delayed action led to long-term economic downturn. Notice how quickly those countries have responded this time around. All of this is common sense and I am sure you are already ahead on this.
But I ask something of you. The world’s healthcare systems, often already under stress, are facing a massive upsurge in demand, beyond anything that they can reasonably manage. Pictures from countries where the disease is peaking show hospitals overwhelmed, staff exhausted and materials in short supply. You run massive supply chains, have at your disposal large numbers of people (who are all probably worried and wishing to do something meaningful) and exceptional capacity for R&D and manufacturing. Please, wherever possible, will you repurpose this to help?
We have seen companies switching their manufacturing capacity to products needed by health systems and the public. We have seen them use their communication capacity to spread important messages, not just through their workforce but through their customer base. We have seen them continuing to pay staff who volunteer or offering them long-term leave.
In China we have seen staff who have been laid off acting as community wardens to help neighbourhoods manage through lockdown. In Germany we have seen students working to support public health professionals spread basic messages and actions. In both these countries these have been important interventions. You have often stated that your people are your greatest assets. Keeping your workforce engaged in meaningful and valuable activity when morale may be at a low ebb is good for them, good for your reputation and a service to your society.
Businesses are seeing that acting compassionately, swiftly and meaningfully enhances their brand and customer loyalty. It is a powerful message about who you are and what you stand for. Doing the right thing when the world is suffering is good for business. It is the right thing to do. Please help.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!