WHAT’S GOING ON
I’ve been overwhelmed of late with the rapid changes occurring in the world and scrambling to try and keep up. My inbox has been completely overwhelmed by every organisation communicating their COVID-19 messages. The impact on the community has been significant both socially and economically with the worst still to come.
The recent Government restrictions should leave no person in doubt of the seriousness of COVID-19 and that restrictions will be in place for some time.
Apart from the obvious stricter hygiene practices implemented to protect our staff and clients both internally and on site, we have had to make fundamental business changes that will ultimately see us through these currently shifting sands and out the other side.
Engaging customers while quoting over the phone for example is one area we have had to adapt, quickly. Changing our sales teams focus to providing great service and demonstrating strong sales techniques over the phone has become imperative to deal with the health risk and consumer vigilance of our traditional face to face sales strategy. Cost cutting and retaining staff has also been at the forefront of our focus moving forward.
While the media and general focus is on the devastating impact this crisis has had on the thousands of people who have lost their jobs as a direct result of COVID-19, and rightly so, I think it must also be acknowledged that those who remain at work, particularly those unable to work from home are also emotionally impacted. The firm message from our leaders is that the safest option is to stay at home however the resounding and conflicting advice that if you are lucky enough to remain employed through this pandemic, then you must continue to go to work is unsettling at best for many. The added guilt for those going out to work and then returning home to their families, fearing they may be unwittingly bringing a killer disease into their homes with them and exposing their loved ones to the danger is causing a further toll on their emotional wellbeing.
Understanding the pressure our workforce is under at this time is my absolute priority. Compassion and understanding during what feels like the darkest days for many cannot be second to anything.
A focus on flexibility and communication are the essential steps I have taken to aid morale among our team. Increased direct communication with realistic and optimistic information on our companies position and steps taken by management to improve our stability during the current climate helps our team to understand that we are across the issues we are facing and doing all that we can to ensure our survival as a company and of course their job security.
Flexible hours are on offer to our team so they can navigate this tricky time of changed supermarket hours, difficulty of obtaining essential items and the required support of family members who may be affected by this crisis in any number of ways. Flexible conditions such as leave without pay is also on offer along with working from home where possible.
While aiming to maintain a sense of job security among our team, we also need to take measures to ensure we come out of this with 100% staff retention at the end. We have taken the opportunity to reduce any excess accrued leave at a time when many are happy to take the opportunity to be on paid leave at home with loved ones and follow the stay at home advice to reduce the risk to themselves and their families.
We have also implemented necessary leave rotations within each department so each team member take two days off per week at no pay. This is and was clearly communicated to staff in a positive and optimistic manner, simply a measure to ensure that we come out the other end of this crisis with all our staff employed which has been very well received by our understanding staff.
Although our current projects are going ahead as scheduled per the current government guidelines in relation to job sites which remain open, we need to be mindful that this could change at any moment and we must be prepared.
We are currently working through projections of what this might look like should a further stage of restrictions be implemented. Some major areas of concern being who will bear the cost of delays in delivering contracts due to such an unprecedented event and how staff can be effectively reallocated from suspended projects.
PLANS AND MINDSET
We as a company are so fortunate to be travelling well so far with a similar downturn in business to our usual seasonal downturn. It is my belief that we should maintain our business model as much as possible within the limits and constraints of the current climate. It would be remiss of us to jump the gun and make any unnecessary panic decisions and changes through fear of the unknown or projections that may never come to fruition.
We should remain alert and ready to adapt and change as necessary taking each day as it comes. We will continue to move with the directives from the government and remain focussed on coming out the other end of this without job losses and in a strong position to lead again in what will no doubt be a very different economic climate to that of what we entered into at the beginning of this terrible historic event.
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute, and hopeful this can help others in some way out in the industry.