We continue to highlight Managing Partner Neil Hughes’ ‘Seven Cs of Business Recovery.’ As businesses battle the impact of COVID-19, it’s important to adopt the appropriate measures now, for tomorrow.

Having recently discussed the value of open and honest communication with the people to whom you are indebted to, let us look at another group of people who are fundamentally important in your recovery plan: your co-workers and staff.

Chapter 3: Co-operation

Many owners and managers often see themselves as the most important people in the organization, when in fact, the hard work and support of your employees is an integral part of helping a business through times of change and disruption.

It is crucial not to take employees for granted. Generally, and in my experience, being completely honest with your team and communicating how serious the company’s problems are, will instill loyalty. They are likely to rally around and redouble their efforts in order to protect the company and their jobs.

Securing the full co-operation of your employees will increase your business’s chance of survival.

Rewarding Employee Performance

During a crisis, businesses sometimes find it difficult to reward the exceptional performance and co-operation of staff due to cash flow difficulties.

However, there are many ways to show your appreciation; immediately drawing attention to their achievements at staff meetings, taking an active role in their training and development (in-house training conducted by senior members of the organization will be seen as an investment in the employees’ careers), introducing profit sharing and rewarding additional holidays and offering flexible working practices and hours.

Fostering creativity and imagination will ensure the co-operation of everyone in your organisation is rewarded during challenging times.

Co-operation is key

So, why exactly is fostering the co-operation of your employees particularly significant in times of crisis? Let us consider a restructuring case I led recently where the co-operation of staff was fundamental to business recovery.

The story begins with a scene I witnessed between management and staff, which clearly demonstrated that relations had hit rock bottom. Employees had not been paid for some weeks and, not only had they ceased to do any work, they were now openly hostile in meetings towards management. Matters were looking bleak.

I immediately called a full meeting of all staff of the company which itself presented obstacles, as some employees wanted to make a payment of all outstanding wages a condition of even talking. Eventually, when it became apparent that the cash wasn’t available, all parties met.

The bitterness between management and staff was so palpable, I asked management to leave the room. Just like that, the atmosphere changed. Staff explained they were frustrated that management were not open and honest about the situation. Their upset was completely justified.

I briefed them about the business’s recovery plan and when we went through the scheduled work, it was clear the company could be saved with everyone back working. Still, I could not make any promises about when they would be paid next and told them as much. Eventually, the most senior member of staff encouraged everyone to get back to work and the recovery of the business began to gather pace.

The employees’ decision to co-operate by continuing to work even without pay during their crisis was the catalyst for the rescue of the business. Fast forward three months, and the Company successfully emerged from the restructuring process with the majority of the team’s livelihoods intact.

Your staff play a central role in the turn-around of your business. Levelling with them, securing their co-operation and making them feel part of the recovery plan is instrumental to your business’s survival.

Read Chapter One Here.

Read Chapter Two Here

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