In moments of uncertainty and concern, it’s not only about what leaders of organisations do but equally how they do it that matters.
COVID-19 is taking the world by surprise, causing a great deal of uncertainty and raising issues that require thoughtful, people-first responses. This newly identified coronavirus was first seen in Wuhan in central China in late December 2019. As we enter March 2020, the virus now has a global reach on all continents except Antarctica. As the virus spreads, communities, ecosystems, and supply chains are being impacted far beyond China.
In January 2020, ahead of the Lunar New Year and as health concerns were still growing, Deloitte conducted a survey in China of human capital policies and practices. The survey drew over 1,000 responses from enterprises operating in China, including a cross-section of private, foreign, and state-owned enterprises as well as not-for-profit organisations.
The survey shows that from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the immediate focus of employers has been on ensuring the health and safety of their employees:
Authorities internationally are taking decisive action to respond to this emerging public health threat, which has caused the business community to consider the adequacy of its own preparedness measures.
It’s important to remember we have faced crises like this in the past and will face them again in the future. We need to be prepared, rational, and even altruistic in response. If there is disruption, there will also be recovery, so how we act in a time of crisis can also inform our long-term impact.
Responding to the immediate challenge: a framework to view the impact on your people
Given the importance of people to every organisation, companies need to plan to respond to employee needs during the unfolding challenge. It’s helpful to think about this as three deeply connected dimensions of an organisation: work (the what), workforce (the who) and workplace (the where).
Drawing on lessons learned in prior crises, such as SARS, we offer the following practices and strategies for consideration. These are the moments that matter, and how you rally your team will be key.