Whew! 2020 is over and we can start the New Year with hope – a fresh approach to restoring life “as it was before.” It is hard to imagine life before 2019 because no matter what – we have been changed forever.
So, we need to let go of whatever notion we have of pre-pandemic life. A positive way to approach this new year is to think of the possibilities of change and opportunities that did not exist last year during the pandemic.
For business leaders, legal and compliance officers and managers, several steps need to be taken to implement a forward-looking strategy focused on opportunities:
Acknowledging the Pandemic Impact: Leaders have to acknowledge that many employees have suffered serious family loss and economic harm. To restore trust and belief in the future, companies have to first embrace the hurt that everyone experienced in one way or another. Many people lost family members, friends, colleagues and associates. Such loss has to be embraced, memorialized in some way, and expressed by business leaders.
Restoring Trust: Depending on how your business handled the pandemic, the impact to the business and the adjustments taken to maintain business continuity, business leaders will have to re-calculate their communications strategies and priorities to regain transparency and credibility. To address the trust factor, business leaders have to adhere to transparency, honesty and disclosure. A company will have to overcome a serious lack of credibility in informing employees of health and safety risks, economic conditions, business stability and potential plans to respond to these issues.
Health & Safety Issues: To reassure business stakeholders, including managers and employees, shareholders, the community, consumers, and government officials, companies have to implement real measures to improve health and safety. While the vaccine is a game changer, reducing health and safety anxiety is still a priority. Business leaders have to understand the anxieties of its workforce and the overarching concern for health and safety. Companies can earn significant credit with consumers and the general public by committing to innovative safety measures.
Business Continuity: COVID-19 stripped away business continuity issues revealing serious lack of planning and dangers. No one could have imagined the impact that COVID-19 would have on various sectors of the economy. A new understanding of supply chain management has been revealed and elevated as a new priority. Companies have to review their business continuity protocols and gain greater understanding of continuity issues.
Renewed Risk Management Strategies: Companies have regularly conducted annual enterprise risk management assessments. The impact of COVID-19, its uneven impact on sectors of the economy, and hindsight analysis should all be taken into account when assessing an enterprise risk management system. All of this information should be reviewed to identify areas to improve the ERM process and introduce new approaches to enhance the overall accuracy of the system.
Recommit to Transparency and Honesty: Businesses committed to disclosure and transparency build trust. Everyone appreciates honesty – whether good news or bad news. Honesty creates trust and every company has to maintain and promote its trust factor.
2021 is going to be a positive year. Companies will slowly rebound. The vaccine will bring about significant health improvements. But to move forward, everyone has to acknowledge the hardships of last year. With compassion in our hearts and attitudes and optimism for the future, we can all work together to achieve new goals and opportunities.