How Coronavirus Could Alter Work Practices Permanently

What’s the Pandemic Work Situation?

This post looks at what we see the current workplace situation and the distinct trend towards remote work.

The WHO officially declared the Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak to be a global pandemic, and the U.S. acknowledged the pandemic as a national emergency . We’re all in the midst of this profoundly distressing setting, and we sense that everyone is in a state of apprehension waiting to see what will occur next.

Major companies have been allowing or directing employees to work-from-home. Bloomberg stated: “We’re about to embark on the world’s largest work from home experiment.” Giant corporations have sent out memos to their millions of employees across thousands of offices to notify them to work outside the workplace, while other large firms have mandated operating remote.

remote worker

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant distress, and we at Flexicrew want to assert that we are not trying to make any declarations that are out of our depth in this article. What we are trying to accomplish is to discuss the possible long-term effect that these circumstances can have on workplaces, teams, leadership, employees and temporary workers – something that we’re genuinely obsessive about.  Our objective is to point out a new workplace direction that employers should consider in future plans

COVID-19 Drives Trend toward Work-At-Home

Authorities are forecasting Coronavirus pandemic may ignite a wide-ranging change from today’s economy and workforce. Stocks for businesses like Zoom that hav a prtial counter to ‘shelter-in-place’ have been up by 50% in 2020.  Professionals like Elspeth Cheung, global valuation director at consultancy Kantar Millward Brown, said: “this is going to have a long term impact on how we work on a virtual basis.…once we develop this habit of living our lives online that will change our long term consumption habits.”

Experts See The Long-Term Transition To Remote Work

In truth, the pandemic may inspire an enduring change in the way and location where labor is accomplished in companies. Another expert, Erin Kelly (a professor of work and organization studies at MIT), suggests that despite being a frightful public health danger, the COVID-19 pandemic could possibly “give us a chance to rethink how work is organized,” and that it could be the “nudge that companies need to let go of outdated policies and practices.” This dreadful outbreak may make working remote the new normal in business.

With the present epidemic, though, having employees work out of the office has at this point become appealing, and for many companies, compulsory.

We conclude that the key matter is – could working from home become a new routine for employees?

The progress of remote work has escalated in recent years, even before the pressure of COVID-19. With this fact as background, some estimates or forecasts indicate that 73% of all teams in the workforce will have remote workers by 2028.

It appears that working from home gives eligible workers more autonomy yet doesn’t impact business performance.  It also leads to reduced anxiety, more satisfaction, and improved retention of workers. When employees have the opportunity to work from home, burnout is down, and job satisfaction is up.

All positives… 

Remote work therefore, for convincingly tangible rationale, is swiftly becoming a broadly – acknowledged standard in present organizations, and it gives us the impression that Coronavirus pandemic could possibly further hasten the speed with which this occurs.

Flexicrew acknowledges this possibility and concludes it’s essential for our clients and other employers to challenge themselves to make recovery and post-recovery planning and strategies that include remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Flexicrew, we are preparing ourselves to efficiently find, recruit, and onboard qualified remote workers in preparation for a future sea-change and to best be able to support and advise our clients.  Call us for advice or recruiting quality remote workers.

4 Tools to Help Your Workers Deal with Anxiety from Today’s Chaos

Okay, so besides the normal day-to-day hustle and immense stress of daily living and working in the modern world, workers also have a pandemic to contend with.

Unfortunately, dealing with anxiety has become somewhat of a normal part of life for many individuals in the workplace today. Although this problem is not necessarily a new phenomenon, there are certain aspects of modern times that have served to exacerbate the issue.

Anxiety-1

Due to our society being so connected through the internet, social media and other forms of media, your employees are not only exposed to the issues in their immediate environment. Instead, they are shown all of the bad things taking place across the entire globe. Furthermore, they are expected to juggle so many more responsibilities at one time, all while being as productive as possible.

Although anxiety certainly varies in intensity and frequency from person to person, there are a few ways to deal with the problem that are beneficial for any of your staff experiencing this issue.

Anxiety Relieving Techniques for Your  Workforce

This article intends to discuss a few of these techniques in order to alleviate some of your staff’s anxiety, hopefully improving their overall quality of life and work.

1. Live In The Moment

Although it may seem obvious when stated, the only point in time in which we will ever exist is right now. Ironically, most of us dedicate the bulk of our mental energy into the past or future. Anxiety is great at causing individuals to replay past mistakes in their head and constantly worry about things that have yet to occur.

A big part of your workforce dealing with anxiety is to live in the moment. This means focusing all of their physical and mental energy on what is going on right now. Not only does this simplify life, it also allows them to get the most out of their limited time and put 100% of their energy into being productive while at work without distractions.

Trying to deal with their entire past and future on a constant basis makes it virtually impossible to appreciate what is right in front of them.

2. Control What You Can Control

The truth is, many of the issues causing anxiety in peoples’ lives are beyond their control. This includes global and community issues as well as problems in their work and personal life.

What they need to realize is that the weight of the world is NOT on their shoulders, even though it can certainly seem like it at times. Anxiety tells people to be worried about solving problems that are way out of their hands.

In reality, focusing on the issues that they actually have the ability to resolve is a much healthier response to a problem-filled world.

3. It’s Okay to Not Feel Okay 

Another side effect of anxiety is a feeling of isolation. People experiencing anxiety on a routine basis tend to feel like they are the only ones dealing with this issue.

Because of this perspective, workers often feel like everyone else is much happier than they are, which shows up in multiple employee satisfaction surveys.  It’s like people won’t be accepted if anyone else knew the extent of their anxiety. It is so important to realize that this is far from the truth.

Every member of your company is experiencing some degree of anxiety or mental hang up. They are far from alone. They must be coached not to feel like they have to go through this acting as if everything is okay when it isn’t.

4. Get Help If You Need It

Finally, if your own anxiety is something you are having trouble dealing with on your own, then don’t! There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help for this issue. Ironically, our society welcomes getting help for even minor physical ailments but acts as if doing the same for a serious mental issue is taboo.

Consider this, if your workers had the chest pain, they would most certainly seek the appropriate doctor to take care of it. Why would they not seek a doctor that is medically trained in alleviating mental health issues if they are dealing with anxiety? There is help out there; you need to instruct them to get it if they need it!

Reduce Recruiting Anxiety with a Staffing Agency’s Support

Flexicrew can help reduce your anxiety and stress by assisting you with workforce planning and recruiting the quality talent that you need in this upheaval.  Contact one of our workforce professionals Today!

Staying Centered and Calm amid Coronavirus: Positive at-home Actions to Begin Today

Introduction

This article is a bit different from the topics we choose to write about.  But since a long weekend is approaching for some and there could be more time spent in homes, we thought it was appropriate at this time to address the subject of anxiety, unease and maybe occasional panic in these uncertain and chaotic times.  We provide just a few reflections on taking care of yourself to have a good work-life balance to stay centered.

Reaction to Coronavirus

As COVID-19 continues to make its way into cities, suburbs and rural areas across the nation, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to remain calm and not panic.

Authorities have told us to say in our homes in order to prevent spread, but that does not mean that we should go crazy inside and solely focus our attention on what is happening with the world outside. Try to limit how much news you watch, especially some of the over-hyped reporting that only propagates fear and anxiety. First and foremost, get updates and facts from reliable sources, and then focus your attention elsewhere.

You can avoid contact with other people and wash your hands more carefully, but your ability to remain calm comes from within. That means you’ll have to take the necessary steps in reducing your stress and anxiety and promoting calmness while the virus runs its course.

leaves falling calm

We’re going to go over three of the best ways that you can stay calm and centered in times of COVID-19 stress!

Mindfulness & Meditation

So, you’re anxious and stressed as a result of the rapid spread of Coronavirus. If you’ve never attempted meditation or any mindfulness techniques in the past, this is the perfect time to try them out and get some practice under your belt.

According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can play a huge role in helping you to maintain your mental and emotional health, even benefiting aspects of your physical health. Here’s what meditation can do for you.

  • Greater outlook on life (positivity)
  • Increased feelings of calmness
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Reduced levels of anxiety and stress.
  • Improved focus

The best part is: There are plenty of different types of meditation.

If you’re able to focus for long periods of time, you might want to try out guided meditations or visualization techniques. When you’re looking to stay more active while you’re quarantined, you can give yoga or Pilates a go!

Draw on a Creative Outlet

You might be stuck in the house for the next few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to resort to going stir crazy. In fact, that’ll probably only increase your feelings of panic during such trying times!

This is a great time to try out some new (or old) creative hobbies. When you’re focused on building or creating something new, you’re reducing the amount of focus on the negativity surrounding you. That means creativity is a solid way of helping you to relax.

A creative outlet can be almost anything. Here are a few things you might want to try out.

  • Painting, coloring, or drawing
  • Singing or playing musical instruments
  • Taking photos or videos of things you enjoy
  • Building something with things lying around the house
  • Writing
  • Puzzles
  • Reading something and then writing an essay about it (yes, remember English 101 class?). This is a great way to take your mind off the world’s troubles.

Basically, the goal here is to find an activity or task that requires focus and makes you happy. You won’t even notice that you spent the last hour drawing your favorite cartoon character.

Giving Back & Helping Others

It’s completely natural to be fearful of the unknown, but giving back to others can help you to tackle this fear. When you’re giving back to the community or helping those in need, you’ll be working to spread compassion and happiness rather than fear and anxiety.  It will certainly ‘give back’ to you in multiple, subtle ways.

With so many people sick or self-quarantined, many people aren’t able or fear to  to leave the home. However, these individuals do still have needs that they now can’t meet on their own.

As long as you’re keeping your distance and not exposing anyone to the virus, you can deliver food and groceries or do things like their yard work. It’ll make you feel good about yourself while also helping those who need it! So, call your neighbors, post something on your Facebook to let those in need know you are available and how to get in contact.

Final Thoughts

You can’t do anything yourself when it comes to curing or eliminating COVID-19, but there are things you can do that can reduce your unease and invoke an overwhelming sense of calmness.

By taking advantage of mindfulness, looking for a creative outlet, or giving back to those who need it, you’ll be able to stay calm and centered, even now!

To help you stay calm and centered at work, Flexicrew can assist you with workforce planning and recruiting the quality talent that you need during recession.  Contact one of our workforce professionals Today!

And, by the way, have a happy, calm Labor Day.

 

 

Ask the Flexpert…What Key Elements should a Work-at-Home Policy Include?

There are six key areas a sensible Work-at-Home Policy should contain.  There are several other areas we touch on in other Flexicrew blog posts, which we haven’t touched on here (e.g. equipment and health/safety of remote work environment).

Characiture of Flexpert

Qualifications

Determine what positions are entitled to work remote, and confirm those in your policy. If you have no remote-compliant positions state that right from the get-go, reducing future requests about remote work.

Availability

If you allow remote work, then you should outline standards in the policy. Whether it’s establishing a universal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work requirement, or letting employees set their own schedules – either should be set out in your guidelines.

Response

State if a remote worker must respond to a co-worker at once, and also define what method of contact need be used.

 Performance Assessment

Define how a remote employee’s results will be assessed.

Tech support

Specify what tech support the employer will provide to remote employees. Outline what remote employees are expected to do when having technical difficulties, so there is a clear, unambiguous process.

Security

When (hard copy or digital) information is removed from the facility, security can no longer be guaranteed. Employees, especially need to be very careful when doing work in public spaces (if acceptable) and policies need to be put in place to guarantee electronic security as well as proper disposal of documents.

Need Assistance

If you need some help with a Work-at-Home Policy in this uncertain labor market, contact Flexicrew Today!  Our remote-working professionals will be glad to share their personal experience.

Ways for Business to Endure the Pandemic

The Coronavirus outbreak has had major impact, and for many companies revenues have fallen off a cliff. Further, the uncertainty and likely disruption caused by pandemic will continue for the foreseeable future.

Recession - Recovery

To weather the Coronavirus storm, companies should consider the following:

Conserve Cash

With seriously reduced revenues, companies need to find ways to conserve cash. This includes analyzing essential spending; idling operations; working with vendors, landlords, and suppliers regarding credit terms; and applying other methods. To maximize their liquidity position, companies must prioritize their use of cash.

Companies should consider the relative costs and revenues of idling operations temporarily until business  activity normalizes. Companies will have to burn some cash to idle operations, but the cash may be less than that incurred in keeping a facility open with a skeletal staff.

Good relations with its trade creditors might enable a company to establish a standstill on “old” payables until companies can restart or normalize operations. In the event companies require some goods or services on a limited or one-off basis, arrangements may be made for C.O.D. or to source those needs with an alternative vendor.

Companies may have similar negotiations with landlords, and they should also review leases and contracts for applicability provisions or legal rights/excuses regarding performance. Until these landlord and contract issues are resolved, companies should consider deferring rent and contract payments at this time, especially where they are not receiving benefits or services provided under such leases and contracts.

Lack of liquidity reduces the range of options for financially stressed organizations. With the indeterminate length of Coronavirus disruption, cash provides additional time.  That time really may be necessary for survival until the company normalizes and opportunities return. The federal government has passed stimulus and bailout laws and allocated funds that may assist. However, these stimulus dollars are not expected to make companies whole for their losses due to the crisis.

Communicate with Lenders

Companies should have a conversation with their lenders. If there is availability on lines of credit, discussions should include draw-downs to bolster liquidity. In addition, discussions may include interest payment deferrals, amendments, extensions, restructurings, and borrowing availability increases or additional loans.

If the lender indicates willingness to support the continuation of the business in these uncertain times, the company needs to be transparent and candid, and provide information and analyses of the various possible scenarios to establish credibility with the lender.

The growing levels of stress may make lenders more receptive to alternative options to maintain a going concern until the business normalizes. Lenders have incentive to work with companies to help preserve them.

Update Cash Flow Forecasts

Forecasts need to reflect the current economic environment, projected to account for reasonable upside and downside scenarios for the impact of the pandemic on operations—even including a potential second outbreak of COVID-19. These forecasts may be shared with lenders, depending on circumstances.

Understandably, the current economic landscape may make forecasting difficult, as the severity and duration of disruption in businesses remains uncertain. Further, depending on the business and its location(s), normalization of business operations may take additional time. Accordingly, for many businesses, ramp-up may extend over a period of time, and they may face further disruption from changing customer preferences or a second virus outbreak. Cash flow forecasts, however, must account for these uncertainties.

Companies should review their fixed and variable costs carefully and determine what costs are needed to run the business. Capital investment plans likely need to be revised and delayed. Companies need to assess their deferred expenses and make assumptions regarding the cost to ramp back up operations.

A 90-day cash flow analysis can highlight some of the critical decisions needed. The 13-week cash flow should be updated weekly and provide comparisons of actual against budget, making available detailed information in advance of the typical monthly financial close process.

In going through this deep-dive process, companies may evaluate their core businesses, capital structure, supply chains, rent obligations, vendors, etc., and assess whether substantive changes are necessary or advisable.

Discussions with Stakeholders

Companies should open communications with vendors, landlords and other interested parties to assure them that they recognize the challenges presented by the Coronavirus and have plans to address them.

In times of crises, communication with stakeholders remains vital. The stakeholders have their own concerns regarding the ultimate impact of Coronavirus on their businesses and investments. Open discussions regarding the issues and challenges presented by this crisis establish goodwill and demonstrate a company’s intention to work with its stakeholders. These discussions do not need to express definitive solutions to the challenges, but are intended to reassure stakeholders that the company recognizes the scope and severity of the issues and is contemplating various responses, depending how facts and circumstances firm up.

Review Labor Issues

Labor constitutes a significant operating expense for most firms. Companies need to focus on whether to furlough or terminate employees. Many businesses will likely have assessed these costs and benefits and made decisions; however, companies may need to reassess their decisions from time to time.

Evaluate Insurance

Companies should review insurance policies to determine possible coverage and comply with all applicable notice requirements.

Although the most obvious source, most business interruption and extra expense insurance usually requires some sort of physical injury or damage to other business property as a trigger to coverage. Such coverage typically is designed to apply where a physical event (e.g., a building fire) shuts down operations for a period of time. It is unclear whether a claim premised on the physical illness of people necessary for business operations and government-ordered closures would be accepted. This issue should be examined on a policy by policy basis.

Conclusion

In summary, businesses must take steps now to mitigate and address the impact of the Coronavirus. These steps include a number of tools and analyses which can and should be used by businesses to survive the current crisis.

Disclaimer

Be sure to speak with your legal and tax professionals regarding the specifics on any CARES question and any potential legal tax issues facing your business.  Flexicrew provides this information as a public service, but it should not be construed as either legal or tax advice.

Flexicrew can assist you with workforce planning and recruiting the quality talent that you need in this recession upheaval.  Contact one of our workforce professionals Today!

9 Ways Employers Prepare for a Successful Transition Back to Work

Most business influencers and professionals indicate that boosting both customer and employee confidence will greatly help businesses reopen successfully and help to revive the economy in a sustained manner. Due to the dangers to the health of the public for the last three months, and the financial losses for companies across the country, there are likely to be drastic changes in the business conditions going forward.

Business owners and management helping their company recover from Coronavirus pandemic and its resulting recession must take precautions to ensure the workplace environment is safe for employees and business associates like suppliers, contractors, visitors and clients. Companies who don’t want the threat of closing down again must function without adversely affecting confidence or health.

Major Concerns for Employers

– Workers may be nervous about returning to the workplace since they do not know what to expect. While preparing the business for returning employees, employers may realize that some essential employees are suffering from high risk health conditions and as a consequence their workspace or their role may have to be adjusted. Since employees may ask if there is any testing such as temperature screening for the virus, employers should have a plan to handle these queries.

– Vendors and customers may find it risky to visit the business’ premises, or they may not be familiar with virtual meetings. In some cases, a business may have limited infrastructure, and cannot deal with a large number of people digitally.

While the painful news spirals around us daily, it is challenging to accurately predict when the economy will recover, the pandemic will fade away and what adjustments will be required in the ‘new normal.’  But companies can take some steps to be better prepared to recoup lost business when most restrictions are lifted.

9 Steps for Successfully Reopening after the Pandemic Recedes

Businesses should try to make workers and customers confident that the business workplace is safe. This includes changing the work environment physically, altering acceptable behavior, or changing the way the business functions. Some tips are listed below:

1. Prevent Personal Contact

Make rules so that there is no personal contact , to limit handshakes, hugging, avoid meeting in closed spaces or other physical contact which is not necessary

2. No Object Sharing

Though all businesses may not be able to provide separate work tools or equipment for each employee, these items should be shared as little as possible. Inexpensive items like pens, notebooks, staplers, file folders, computers, and markers should be assigned to each employee and not used by others. Other expensive items need a cleaning regimen (See 7).

3. Rules for Facemask Usage

Most states have specified rules or guidance for using face-masks and these rules should be considered by employers while devising relevant rules for their own business. If you have an employee handbook, don’t forget it should be updated with these rules, and employees should also be informed.

4. Rearrange the Workplace

The floor plan of the workplace will often need to be modified to conform to the new social distancing norms. To ensure that the distance between workers, visitors and customers is at least 6 feet, desks may have to be rearranged, work stations staggered, spaces reconfigured and partitions added where feasible.

5. Eliminating Gathering Areas

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employees shared lounges, break rooms, kitchens, and now there should be a 6 feet distance between users of these facilities if the common areas are still available. Hence people should gather together mainly outdoors for meetings, since indoors the virus infection is more likely to spread.

6. Hand Sanitizing

Businesses will have to invest money in taking safety precautions like making hand sanitizers readily available, so that customers and workers continue to trust. If the workers or customers feel that the workplace is unsafe, customers may not come back or employees may be disgruntled and performance suffers.

7. Cleaning Rules for Multi-User Equipment

If the workplace has expensive equipment used by multiple people such as photocopy machines, business related tools, machinery or even gym equipment, it is advisable to post detailed instructions for cleaning the equipment after each use, so that the users remain safe.

8. Limiting the People in a Room

If is necessary to ensure that a discussion or meeting remains confidential, the employer should consider the following options:

  • Discussions should be held in a room which is large enough, so that each person can maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.
  • Hold the meeting online using web conference to reduce direct exposure, even though participants may be in the same facility.
  • Check the size of each meeting room to determine the maximum number of people who can be accommodated and still maintain a safe distance.  Update the room signs with this information, so that employees do not unintentionally make mistakes in arranging how many can attend the meeting.
 9. Changing Work Schedules

Typically businesses were working from 8 am to 5 pm (or 9-5) daily, yet these timings may have to be adjusted to reduce interaction. Businesses with different work schedules may also have to change their working hours or work in shifts to minimize the number of workers in their facility at any one time.

Friendly Advice

If your organization is planning any of these steps, why not give Flexicrew a call to tap our experience in working with many companies, some tips we’ve learned and what might be suitable for your situation.

4 Tough Actions You Must Take in a Down Economy – plus 2 You Must Reject at All Costs

A version of this article originally published in March 2010 Issue of Harvard Business Review and curated here.

Most states are reopening and easing Coronavirus restrictions to various extents.

We trust that occurs only where suitable to stay protected and ensure a safer reopening so employees and employers can return to being productive and contributing to an economic rebound.

HBR logo

Yet, with about 40 million out of work, businesses and workers have been hammered and it will take time to recoup losses.

There will likely be a phased recovery cycle.  It will not be like a miracle with the economy snapping back to normal. It will continue to require hard business choices along the way.

We have been discussing internally the best steps forward, studying what our peers are doing, and researching what was effective in past recessions.

There are some specific decisions you can take to improve the likelihood your organization will survive, hit the ground running and rebound strong when this pandemic eventually passes by.

In doing our homework, we came across an attention-grabbing study from Harvard Business Review that pretty much addresses the decisions to take now and shows effectively how to do it. Actual data, drawn from the study of 4,700 companies during recessions, highlights what business should be addressing now.

Harvard researchers were aware of the traditional “recession marketing advice,” but, they began a project to identify the strategies actual companies used in past recessions to come up with the most effective moves:

What is the best path forward for a business during and after a tough economy?

To answer that question, they embarked on a year-long project to analyze what different companies did during three global recessions, namely the major slowdowns that took place during these years:

  • 1980 to 1982
  • 1990 to 1991
  • 2000 to 2002.

NB: their research began prior to the 2008/2009 recession, hence why that recession isn’t included in their HBR article.  But, a more recent analysis by Bain and a third study by McKinsey using data from the 2008/2009 recession reinforced these earlier findings.

An overview of the Harvard Business Review article methodology was:

  • Harvard researchers studied 4,700 public companies
  • They analyzed their key financial metrics from 3 years before, during, and 3 years after the recessions they studied
  • They summarized their findings, and revealed strategies you can use effectively.

Caveat:  the research project studied companies listed in S & P Compustat database which may not directly relate to your business, but the advice is nonetheless instructive of what strategies are effective in this downturn.

You should be interested in this research, to see how other companies survived 4 major recessions, and what they did, so your business can incorporate their successful actions.

Here were the statistics:

  • 17% of the analyzed companies perished from the recession (closed, bankrupt, etc.)
  • 80% didn’t regain their pre-recession growth rates (sales and profits) even 3 years after the recession ended
  • Only 9% GREW after the recessions, with better numbers after than before
    • Those same 9% outgrew their competitors by 10% annually in sales AND profit growth after-recession

Only 423 companies effectively managed an economic slowdown — while 4,277 companies mismanaged the recessions and shrunk or went out of business.

Before sharing from the HBR article what that 9% did, it’s important to know what NOT to do, so your company doesn’t follow the path the 17% of those businesses did.

Here are 2 FAILS from the study that you should avoid during a business downturn:

  • Avoid narrow-minded cost-cutting, like deep layoffs as your only tool
  • Don’t just spend brashly (overly opportunistic culture leads to denying the emergency at hand ) thinking as long as they spend that sales and profit will continue to improve

Firms which took a sharp knife to expenses quicker and more extreme than their competitors performed poorly overall. They became too hung up on just surviving in the moment.  They had the lowest probability — 21% — of pulling ahead of the competition when the economy opened up and improved, their findings pointed out.

We’re not advocating that you don’t tighten finances right now. You must, of course.

But what you cut — and where you take those savings and where you then commit those resources — can mean the difference between surviving this recession and gaining market position.

OK, then what SHOULD you do? What do Harvard researchers recommend?  What works based on the winners and losers in the three recessions?

There are 4 strategies that should position your organization in the best situation possible for growth and to get ahead of competition coming out of this meltdown.

1. Combine BOTH Aggressive and Defensive Strategies in Response to Recession

So, what management strategies worked best for businesses facing recessions? This is a direct quote from evidence the researchers uncovered:

“According to our research, companies that master the delicate balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow do well after a recession. Within this group, a subset that deploys a specific combination of defensive and offensive moves has the highest probability—37%—of breaking away from the pack. These companies reduce costs selectively by focusing more on operational efficiency than their rivals do, even as they invest relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets.” HBR

The best approach – and this may sound obvious – is finding the right balance between using defensive and opportunistic strategies during this economic downturn.

And of course, you can also be TOO defensive or TOO aggressive — neither of which is ideal.

Example Too Aggressive Behavior

One example from the research is Hewlett-Packard (HP). At the height of the 2000 recession, HP’s then-CEO Carly Fiorina said this:

“In blackjack, you double down when you have an increasing probability of winning. We’re going to double down.”

HP unquestionably doubled down in 2000. They spent tons of money aggressively in many sorts of directions — they purchased Compaq, their computer rival, they expanded R&D spend, they entirely rebranded HP plus they spent seriously in developing new markets.

By 2004, HP’s EBITDA earnings (8.4%) fell behind IBM’s (16.8%) and Dell’s (9.3%). Why?  They were stretched too thin by responding too aggressively to a decline in the economy and too many directions for executives to successfully manage them.

Of course, other companies were too dependent solely on defensive strategies.

Example Too Defensive Behavior

Sony, for example, in the 2000 slowdown only slashed heavily — they cut their workforce by 11%, their R&D by 12% and their capital expenditures by 23%. This may have helped their profit margins when times were tough, but once the economy picked up steam, they were caught flat-footed.

In the years prior to the 2000 recession, Sony’s sales had been growing by an average of 11% per year for the three prior years.

But In the years after the recession — and after their cuts — average sales growth contracted to a meager 1%.  They were still under pressure for several years beyond this as well – falling behind competition because they had changed to a defensive-only strategy during recession. They surrendered their ability to continually innovate and develop new exciting products and lost their lead to competitors.

Balanced Strategies

What’s a company facing economic slowdown to do?  Find the right balance and you’ll be okay.  Piece of cake… Right?

Clearly businesses realize it isn’t that simple.

So, there are a few initiatives your organization can adopt to reinforce your businesses now for the anticipated economic uptick whether that happens in the 4th quarter of this year or more gradual over some longer timeframe.

The winners who used a delicate balance of operational efficiencies, market development and asset investment were termed by the researchers as progressive companies. They were the leaders in sales and profits growth post-recession.

2. Improve efficiency instead of only cost-cutting for up to a 10X better return

Some layoffs are fairly inevitable in a slump.

The Harvard Business Review research explained that cutting workforce during an economic downturn only delivered a small probability — just 11% — of getting ahead after the recession.

In addition:

Cutting workforce alone did not translate into better post-recession profits.

Firms that used layoffs less to cut costs and more to right-size and relied more on operational improvements came back from recession in the strongest shape.

The study showed that post-recession profits raised $600 million on average for the businesses that were excessively defensive-minded.

But for businesses that focused on efficiency vs. making cuts increased sales by an average of $6.6 billion — an improvement of 1,000%.

How to translate that into action…

Rather than cutting back to save capital right now, focus on creating new efficiencies to either save money, or even generate new reach for your business, whether now or in the future.

In terms of value, invest now in systems to streamline and organize processes, practices and procedures.  Then continue to enhance them to generate savings in your operations today and even more in future.

No matter your business situation at this low economic point, there is some area in your operation that can be made more efficient, likely by adding some economical technology to give you enhanced performance at lower cost in the future.

3. Invest in strategies and assets that can bring in new business

According to the Harvard researchers, during a recession, establishments that kept their eyes open to new trends and persisted in adapting their services to those shifting customer needs perform better in the years following the slowdown than companies that didn’t change, but simply repeated their same pre-recession strategies.

Example of Sales Growth Strategies

Let’s take Target, Inc.that  increased capital expenditures by 50% and focused on developing into emergent markets and increasing online virtual business.

As a consequence, sales grew by 40%, profits by 50% during a recession, and their profit margin even improved 1% in the years subsequent to the down economy.

Example of Not Tailoring Strategies to shifting Market Trends

However, TJX Companies (with brands TJ Maxx and Marshall’s) increased capital expenditures by nearly 100%, concentrated on expanding retail space because they could purchase empty or underutilized real estate inexpensively.

Although TJX enjoyed increased sales in the midst of a down economy, it didn’t really innovate – so it didn’t improve their bottom line.  In fact, bottom line growth was 9% lower in the years after a recession because they were saddled with assets that didn’t significantly boost returns.

Target and TJX are not like most companies, so how do we translate their experience to your strategy?

Essentially: Look Forward.

Continue engaging your customer base. Don’t stop communicating with them. They need you more than ever during the Covid-19 outbreak. They still want help through some of the challenges they’re going through.  They would like to know what ideas you have now and plans for support after this is over — but they likely need a virtual option for the time being to connect with you.

  • The current quarantine has some companies using online video software so if you can meet customers virtually
  • Take the time to learn Zoom or Facetime, etc.
  • Maybe this is a perfect time to freshen up your website
  • A simple eblast out to your customer list can generate sales
  • Don’t forget the power of social media as an engagement tool
  • Take this time to invest in R&D and expand into a new area that your clients ask for.
4. Find new business opportunities by discovering what your customers need right now

For the time being, this pandemic has changed businesses, but what you may not see is that not all industries have been shut down, and thus:

You may have expansion possibilities which could bear much fruit when the pandemic ends.

Companies are still expanding, which is exactly what the Harvard study suggests you do.

Businesses that survive recessions and flourish afterward invest in:

  • Market research of what their customers/prospects need
  • Development of relevant solutions for now
  • Development of new solutions for future
  • Marketing more than their competition

Don’t stop communicating with your customers and prospects.

Reach out by email, social media, and direct mail to let them know you are still operational. Find out what they need so you can innovate to supply solutions that could make your business better than your competition.

You HAVE to let your customers know that you’re open again for business and market your business however you can.  It’s the ONLY way your customers and prospects will know you’re open while some of your competitors may go down in this pandemic.

Plus, restrictions continue to lift, so you want to be ready and top of mind for your prospects.

If Flexicrew can assist you at all during this time, we’re still offering our free one-on-one workforce consultations  866.720.FLEX (3539).

Or you can  Email Us for more information.

Ask the Flexpert…Any Tips on What a Reopening Communications Plan Should Include?

Reopening Communications Plan Backdrop

First of all, when your business is ready to reopen, remember your communications plan should have a heavy dose of consideration and empathy. Different audiences (e.g. employees, suppliers, etc.) are bound to have unique worries and points of view. How your company takes care of each person, group or business and how it handles its reopening will become publicly accessible information and can leave an enduring impression positive or negative.

Characiture of Flexpert

Three Solid Tips

Here are 3 tips that should work for any circumstance:

1. Confirm that workers are aware and free from anxiety about what actions you are taking to ensure safety. If employees don’t have faith in the steps you are taking, anyone they interface with will sense that doubt.

2. Inform your audiences at the start that back-to-work reopening will start with the facts and guidance that you have at the time and based on data public health officials provided. Let everyone know that plans will evolve as more is learned and your workforce gives feedback on effectiveness and comfort levels.

3. Make clear direction available such as signs, actions of senior management that illustrate good examples (social distancing, face masks, work from home when possible) and direction from supervisors to emphasize behaviors your company wants to establish.

Grounded in Safety and Care

If your firm’s reopening communications plan exhibits these elements, and are grounded in safety and care, then you should achieve smooth reopening with limited issues.  Keep in mind that conditions change so you must keep an eye on the business and react to changes in medical, political and economic conditions.

Need Assistance with Reopening Communications Plan

If you need some assistance in organizing a Reopening Communications Plan in this uncertain labor market, contact Flexicrew today.

Back to Work Guidance Balancing Safety and the Economy

States Reopening

All 50 states have begun to reopen! The last state, Connecticut, started to reopen Wednesday May 20.

If your company hasn’t started to create a reopening plan, and you’re not really certain how to even start your particular company plan, the following are a few helpful links to various guidelines and resources:Coronavirus

The Administration and CDC released their official Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. It is a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts to help state and local officials reopen their economies successfully and get people back to work.

Proposed Approach

The proposed approach is:

  • Based on the most up-to-date data available
  • Curbs the risk of COVID resurgence
  • Protects our most vulnerable citizens
  • Adoptable on a statewide or county-by-county basis

The White House and CDC suggests that states meet the following criteria before implementing a phased reopening:

  • A 14-day downward trajectory in COVID-like symptoms
  • A 14-day downward trajectory of influenza-like reported illnesses
  • A 14-day downward trajectory of documented cases OR a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period
  • Hospitals are capable of treating all patients without crisis care
  • There is robust testing in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing

Once states meet all of the above, it is considered safe to move forward with the government’s three-phase reopening plan.

For employers, the CDC and Administration recommends that you implement these guidelines when reopening:

  • Implement best practice policies with regards to: social distancing and protective equipment, temperature checks, sanitation, use/disinfection of common and high-traffic areas and business travel
  • Monitor your workforce for indicative symptoms.
  • Do not allow people to physically return to work while symptomatic.
  • Implement a policy for contract tracing should someone in your workforce test positive for COVID-19.
Employer Guidelines

If you haven’t already, read up on the CDC employer guidelines here.

Once a location is considered safe to reopen, the official Guidelines for Opening Up America Again recommend that employers adhere to these recommendations during PHASE 1:

  • Continue to encourage remote working when possible.
  • If you can, return employees to work in phases.
  • Close common areas where staff are likely to congregate OR enforce social distancing within those areas.
  • Minimize nonessential travel or follow CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.
  • Strongly consider special accommodations for especially vulnerable staff.

During Phase 1, schools and organized children activities, bars and night clubs should remain closed. However, gyms and venue-based businesses (like restaurants, cinemas, churches, etc.) can operate while observing severe distancing protocols. Elective surgeries and dentists may also resume practicing on an out-patient basis.

Once your area moves to PHASE 2, these guidelines are provided for employers:

  • Continue to encourage remote working when possible.
  • Close common areas where staff are likely to congregate OR enforce social distancing within those areas.
  • Strongly consider special accommodations for especially vulnerable staff.

During Phase 2, schools and organized children activities can reopen. Bars and night clubs may operate with diminished standing room occupancy where applicable. Gyms and venue-based businesses (like restaurants, cinemas, churches, etc.) can operate while observing moderate distancing protocols. Elective surgeries may also resume on an out-patient and in-patient basis.

Once your area moves to PHASE 3, these guidelines are provided for employers:

  • You should resume unrestricted staffing of worksites.

During Phase 3, life will be close to normal. Gyms and venue-based businesses (like restaurants, cinemas, churches, etc.) can operate while observing limited distancing protocols.

We encourage you to read these guidelines in their entirety here.

Assistance

If we can offer assistance in:

  • Workforce planning
  • Recruiting temporary staff to scale with your current situation
  • Temperature screeners to keep your staff and visitors virus-free
  • Providing contact trackers to identify and follow-up those who come in contact will ill workers

call us today to help build out the staffing portion of your Reopening Plan.

We’re doing our part to help you…

Because in a disruptive world, you need a different breed of staffing agency.

Ten Universal Actions Every Employer Must Take to Help Ensure a Safer Reopening

Less National Safety Council, in coordination with the SAFER task force, releases comprehensive guidance and recommendations for employers to prioritize workplace safety post-quarantine

NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL Logo

As a service to Flexicrew clients we are reprinting this news provided by National Safety Council and originally released by PRNewswire May 19, 2020

CHATTANOOGA, TN, (MAY 20, 2020) –  Reopening businesses and returning employees to traditional work environments post-quarantine will be the most nuanced and complex actions American employers will undertake in the coming months. To help them prioritize safety during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Safety Council – based on recommendations from the SAFER task force – identified the 10 universal actions every employer must consider before reopening, and released a series of playbooks with in-depth recommendations for doing so safely.

SAFER – a group of experts from companies of all sizes, leading safety organizations, nonprofits, government agencies and public health organizations – is the first national task force focused on worker safety. The 10 universal actions every employer must take are:

  1. Phasing – Create a phased transition to return to work aligned with risk and exposure levels
  2. Sanitize – Before employees return, disinfect the workplace and make any physical alterations needed for physical distancing
  3. Screenings – Develop a health status screening process for all employees
  4. Hygiene – Create a plan to handle sick employees, and encourage safe behaviors for good hygiene and infection control
  5. Tracing – Follow proper contact tracing steps if workers get sick to curb the spread of COVID-19
  6. Mental Health – Commit to supporting the mental and emotional health of your workers by sharing support resources and policies
  7. Training – Train leaders and supervisors not only on the fundamentals of safety such as risk assessment and hazard recognition, but also on the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing, as employees will feel the effects of the pandemic long after it is over
  8. Engagement Plan – Notify employees in advance of the return to work, and consider categorizing workers into different groups based on job roles – bringing groups back one at a time
  9. Communication – Develop a communications plan to be open and transparent with workers on your return to work process
  10. Assessment – Outline the main factors your organization is using as guidance to provide a simplistic structure to the extremely complex return to work decision

“Protecting our workers means coalescing around sets of safety principles and ensuring those principles guide our decisions,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Employers are asking for help, and we’ve brought together leading safety experts to deliver in this time of need.  We hope these universal actions, the detailed playbooks and the recommendations within them will help employers safely navigate reopening operations while prioritizing employees’ rights to safe work environments.”

On May 7, NSC and the SAFER task force released a framework from which employers should develop reopening action plans. The framework breaks down considerations within six key areas: physical environments, medical issues, mental health, communication needs, external considerations and employment and human resources. From the framework, NSC researchers created playbooks with detailed recommendations for each of the six key areas, as well as guidance for four specific environments: Office spaces, closed industrial settings, open industrial settings and public spaces.

For up-to-date information about the NSC response to COVID-19 and the task force’s activities, please visit nsc.org/safer.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

 

About Flexicrew Staffing

Founded in 2008 in Mobile, Alabama, and currently headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, Flexicrew makes use of technology and industry best practices to deliver the most talented and qualified industrial – skilled and unskilled, technical, and clerical Flexicrew logoprofessionals to clients within most major industries. Flexicrew has a presence in over 25 markets across North America with more than 1,000 contractors currently placed in companies throughout the U.S. To learn more, visit www.flexicrew.com.