Balancing Safety and Business Priorities
May 13, 2020
COVID-19: 3 items to consider as your business moves forward
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted our business and personal lives like nothing else in our lifetime. Its unprecedented impact has made many companies drastically change or even stop operations. As many states lift restrictions and we find ourselves slowly returning to work, one question is top of mind for many of us:
When will it feel like we are back to “business as usual”?
Just as this pandemic has affected businesses differently, the answer to that question will not be the same for every company. We have counseled clients knowing they must balance the safety of their employees and customers with the need to move business forward. Given this dynamic, demonstrating your care and following health precautions has never mattered more to your future business success.
We continue to hear that we are entering a “new normal.” It appears this will be an extended adjustment period. No matter how long it takes, goal posts will likely be reestablished to measure a company’s ability to be successful in a post-pandemic environment. These might include:
Feeling safe. For at least the foreseeable future, your company will be judged by how seriously you treat safety and the health risks to your team and customers. If you do not make this priority first, you will lose goodwill amongst those most loyal to you – employees and customers alike.
During the pandemic, if you did not demonstrate care in limiting health risks seriously, you may already have done damage. Companies who have been in the news for how they have mismanaged risks associated with the pandemic will have a steeper hill to climb as the economy recovers.
Demonstrating empathy. The pandemic generated many reactions, and several that were out of any company or business leader’s control. Those who have made heartfelt decisions because they were “the right thing to do” have no doubt fared better than those who have not, even in situations where outcomes like furloughs or lay-offs have been the result.
Those who have shown an ability to continue managing the situation with empathy have inspired loyalty and commitment. This will be remembered – and will matter – as businesses reopen.
Essential services. Frontline workers who, in a pre-pandemic life may have been taken for granted, have been lauded for their contributions during this crisis. As we move ahead, customers will be looking at companies differently and may make purchasing decisions based on the values you demonstrated during this time. Understanding the importance of this value equation will be necessary as we move forward.
Given all of this, if you can show that your business puts safety first, cares for employees and customers, and lives its values, you may be able to emerge stronger than before.
Key takeaway: We are in a sort of limbo where many are looking for a return to normal, which may present challenges to how and where they seek business services and fulfillment of needs. It is important to be considerate of how your business will be viewed as you emerge from this crisis. For example:
- Will consumers feel conflicted using your company’s products or services if they know you did not treat your employees well during the pandemic?
- If your company knowingly did not act with empathy (or otherwise misplaced trust) with its employees or customers during the pandemic, how are you prepared to address this loss of goodwill?
- As the economy recovers, companies may be separated by those who provide value, and those who do not. Where does your company fall?
Wixted & Company has advised several companies during the COVID-19 pandemic on moving forward with their business strategies. As you begin planning, consider the above strategies for long-term success!
By: Ryan Curell
Ryan brings more than 10 years of retail, consumer public relations, issues management and corporate communications expertise to Wixted and Company. With prior experience at Walmart and Sprint, he has led communications efforts on many public relations and product campaigns. As Communications Advisor, Ryan helps clients with messaging development and training, strategic communication and media relations.