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April 1, 2020

Management matters in tackling a pandemic


April 1, 2020

LAHORE: It has now been established that even the best economies were not prepared to tackle the type of pandemic caused by the coronavirus. Government and businesses that perform better took prudent and timely decision without having the best resources.

The Global Health Security Index lists the countries best prepared for an epidemic or pandemic. The index rates United States as the best out of 195 countries to cope with pandemic like health situation. The index is based on multiple parameters from equipment to human resource. The US scored 83.5 out of 100 on that index.

It is followed by United Kingdom 77.9, Netherlands 75.6, Australia 75.5, and Canada 75.3. South Korea, one of the two Asian economies in top 10 list was ranked 9th with a score of 70.2.

Italy was ranked 31 with a score of 56.1, India was ranked 57 with a score of 46.1, China 51 with score of 48.2, and Pakistan at 105 with score of 35.5.

Now if we look at the best management during the pandemic, South Korea placed at number 9 has performed many times better that United States or United Kingdom. China at 51 has handled the coronavirus best and is the only country on road to increased economic activities.

Italy at number 31 recorded more deaths and coronavirus positive population than China. India is better placed in terms of spread of virus than other better placed countries.

Pakistan is struggling with its spread because it is not following the course followed by countries that tackled the virus through proper lock down. Ours is a hybrid lockdown with federal government opposing it and provincial governments at loss how to control it without social isolation.

This dual policy has made the economic operations murky. Factories mostly are closed except a few. The attendance at operating factories is thin because families do not want their dear ones to get exposed to the virus. Public at large has locked itself down at least in big cities so there is no question of sales except that of essential goods.

Under these circumstances, business owners are at a loss how to cope with the economic stress. For our entrepreneurs and business owners that need to address the tough conversation of layoffs there are some words of advice from Ronn Torossian, a crisis management expert.

He has more than 20 years of experience working with national and international brands that go through disruptive and unexpected events that threaten to harm the organisation or its stakeholders.

As the head of a company, it is important to be transparent and forthcoming with your employees to the extent that it is possible. Let them know if and how the company is being affected and communicate this in a timely manner.

Employees who have experienced a round of layoffs would often agree that finding out via a “leak” or third-party about impending cuts exacerbates the situation. So it is important to minimise the amount of people involved in the layoff process and set a clear plan.

Avoiding internal panic would also reduce disruptions in workflow and long-term permanent reputational damage. Take the temperature of your business based on facts and figures. Make decisions based on information, and make them quickly.

If you have open positions, now is the time to implement a hiring freeze. Identify an internal employee, or multiple, that can be trained to complete additional jobs or tasks to fill this open position and ensure that they receive support in prioritising their workload for the most efficient outcome.

In case of layoffs let them know that once the office re-opens, the position will be there for them to pick back up. While it’s not immediate security, hopefully it provides a bit of comfort.

Layoffs might become inevitable; no one can predict how big of an effect this pandemic will have on companies. If you have to lay off some, or all of your employees, support them through the process.

When terminating a portion of your workforce, assume what is said to those individuals will become known to the remaining employees and could impact the company morale as a whole. Be honest with them as to why this decision was made, but let them know the value they brought to the company and your appreciation.

If you are able, offer them support in resume building, letters of recommendation, or tap into your network for any positions you may be able to help them land.