While times may be trying, it is imperative to not only think about getting through today, but also to plan ahead for tomorrow’s success, says Jerene Ang.

COVID-19 has thrown a spanner into the business plans of the first half of 2020, resulting in many organisations activating their business continuity plans on short notice. Jobs and livelihoods have been affected, and the impacts are expected to last through the next 12 to 18 months.

Indeed, these are tough times. But is there a silver lining to this dark cloud? Do you, like us, believe that how your business reacts during this period can be the deciding factor to your future success?

Here are three tips to set your organisation up for future success:

Be aware of cash flow, but don’t start retrenching workers

While the economy is tanking, the first thing that comes to mind is cost- cutting. Businesses affected by the pandemic may be inclined to lay off excess manpower. However, Singapore’s Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment reiterates that retrenchment is always the last resort.

Instead, employers should try alternatives such as redeployment, flexible work schedules, a shorter workweek, and wage adjustments. The advisory notes that in cases where retrenchment is inevitable, companies should implement layoff exercises in a responsible and sensitive manner bearing in mind the impact on the affected employees.

If you do retrench workers, be sure to keep a good buffer capacity – learn from Mumbai’s dabbawalas – this will enable your company to seize any ad-hoc revenue-generating opportunities and not let them slip through your fingers.

Upskill employees

You may be thinking: “Where will I get the money to upskill employees in this tough business climate?” Here’s the answer – upskilling need not be costly. Hands-on mentorship programmes which leverage on existing internal resources can be just as effective as external formal learning, if not more. This downtime might also be a good time to implement a job rotation programme, where colleagues can pick up new skills by shadowing each other. If external courses are your only option, offset the cost by tapping on training support schemes under the SkillsFuture movement, redeployment programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative, and other government grants.

Innovate! Develop ideas for new products

While business is booming and everyone is busy, there may not be the time to think of innovative ideas, much less act on them. Which makes downtimes like this the perfect time to revisit some of the innovative product ideas you previously shelved. If your whole business model is being impacted by this pandemic, your organisation’s survival probably depends on these novel ideas.

Even if only a part of your business is impacted by COVID-19, a little extra revenue from innovation can’t do any harm. Furthermore, what better way to make use of your buffer headcount than to redeploy them to innovation projects?

While times may be trying, it is imperative to not only think about getting through today, but also to plan ahead for tomorrow’s success. All the best in your journey!

Photo / 123RF

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