Advance Blog

March 31, 2020

The Moment Of Truth in Our Time of Need

The fall – out from the Corona Virus crisis is likely to have far reaching implications for employers. 

Companies with established full blown Work At Home practices have been quick off the mark these past few weeks to let the world know how prepared they were/are.

“We’ve had Work At Home in place for x years”
“Our Business Continuity Plan has responded fully and everything is under control”

To be fair to organizations without such facilities in place, while there are companies who should have been better prepared, there are often practical reasons why full flexible work practices are not in place, ranging from hard work realities (some jobs, obviously, have to be done on site) through to softer, cultural factors which may require deeper diagnoses to fully understand.

Whatever the particular obstacle, it’s nice to see some companies sharing best practice insights into how to maintain operations whilst protecting employees, now that we are all having to face up to this force majeure event together.

Clear, consistent and regular communication is a common theme.

As a consumer, like everybody else, I have received communiqués from a multitude of companies recently.

Of course, it is very important that organizations make business as usual re-assurances to customers at this time.

Communications from some players are perhaps more welcome than others though.

It was re-assuring as a policy holder to be informed, for example, that my insurance carrier will waive the OPD limits on my health policy should I contract the virus, and had doubled their call center staff to respond to the ever increasing call volume.

It was also uplifting to learn that our local Food Delivery Service company would be pulling out all the stops to ensure services would be maintained.

The sympathy proffered by my online betting company for the current lack of live sports, and the offer of a bonus for online gaming, was perhaps a little less well received.

Let’s not be too critical though – many of us are, naturally, nervous about the future and re-assurance of business as usual from any entity may help to mitigate our worries.

Bear in mind too Peter Drucker’s famous assertion that the primary purpose of a business must be to create value for customers, so continuing to do so throughout a high risk period can only be in the interest of all stakeholders.

Anyhow, given the current general anxiety in society, doomsday predictions are to be avoided. At some point, an end will be in sight, and we can start to plan again, whether as individuals, families or institutions, both public or privately owned.

Nevertheless, the reality is that the longer the situation endures, the more likely that organizations may find themselves faced with difficult choices between business and people.

The ramifications for corporate reputations may run deep, particularly employer brands.  

Seen through the eyes of an employee, when we look at the full Employee Life Cycle, the sum of all of one’s experiences with your employer, it is the ‘Moments of Truth’ that stick with you.  

Anyone who has spent any length of time working for a particular organization will likely already have experienced at least one such an ‘MOT’ – the loss of a loved one, an accident, any period when you were willing, but not able, to work to your full capacity.

Did your employer respond with the humanity and compassion that proved your relationship with them is built around something more enduring than the month end business results?

Hopefully, they did, and will do so again now. If they did not, then perhaps the realization that we are all in this together may lead to organizations rethinking their purpose in the world, and we may yet see a more humane and compassionate world emerge as a result.

Matthew Grose, Partner, Horton International
Matthew Grose is an ANZIIF Senior Associate and a CIPD (UK Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) Fellow with 25 years experience in senior management in financial services, with deep expertise in building capability through people strategy and organizational transformation.