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Tune in on 17th July for the Small Business Virtual Summit with Cisco. Register now!
Last Updated : Apr 07, 2020 08:09 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Coronavirus impact: Why layoffs and pay cuts are short-sighted tactics to beat the virus

There are many organisations that have done their bit, but there are many more corporates that need to wake up and listen to the world calling for help.

Moneycontrol Contributor @moneycontrolcom
A masked man stands for a thermal screening in a compound of a housing society. (Image credit: Shome Basu)
A masked man stands for a thermal screening in a compound of a housing society. (Image credit: Shome Basu)

Gangadhar Krishna

The week before last, I told Ramesh, our domestic help, to take time off until further notice. His instinctive reaction was surprise. I explained to him about the impending dangers of coronavirus and the need to take care. He was still pensive and seemed a bit worried. I then told him that his salary would be paid in full for the month. Immediately I saw a sense of relief on his face. He was more receptive to my explanation and seemed to grasp the intensity of the situation with better understanding.

After a week, my wife called him to ask if he was fine or needed anything. I believe he was overwhelmed with her call.

Close

Increase social distance, reduce emotional distance

I think we did our bit as good Samaritans during this crisis. If you look around, there are many individuals who are going out of their way to help.

But it is the companies that can do many times better to help their employees, their customers and the community. It is that time when brownie points are there for takes. Look around, get smart, invest, innovate and reap. It is the time for empathy, compassion and concern.

For organisations to tide over these challenging times, they need the

‘whole-hearted support’ from their employees. So, it’s not the time for layoffs and pay-cuts. That is short-sighted thinking; it’s only a quick fix. With this approach you don’t need coronavirus to trouble you. Your company itself will come back to plague you with more challenges. Instead, invest in your employees.

*   Are there skills they need to hone, but never had the time to learn due to work pressures? Now is the time to invest in training courses you wanted them to learn. If you look, there are online courses galore. Some companies have come forth and made them free during the lockdown period. Make use of them.

*  Ask employees to take a break with their families. (sounds strange?)  Create a page on the company’s site where they can share their stories on how they spent the day with their spouse and children. Sharing their stories brings joy, pride and togetherness. Go beyond the employee and recognise the pillars at home who support your employee at work. Maybe wives could connect, children could become friends.

* Exchange daily posts on the experience of ‘working from home’. Every thought shared can lead to idea generation and devise new ways of doing things. Build camaraderie between employees and departments. There may be many things you did not know about a colleague while at work that you now know connecting online. Once again, increase social distance, reduce emotional distance.

* Leaders and managers, connect with your employees, check on their health, about their family, how they are coping working from home, if there is anything you could do to help them to perform better. What did not happen face to face can be done online, what was not done when things were hunky-dory should be done at times like these. And the perfect example is our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If he can connect with the common public or the corona warriors, you certainly can devote time for your staff. In the bargain, you are only helping yourselves.

* As ambassadors of the company, encourage them to go all the way to help their community. Stretch it by giving prizes, awards or certificates of recognition.

* And if you so need to take pay-cuts, lead by example. Cut the pay and perks of management staff and business heads.

Heads of organisations have the responsibility to take care of their employees, building their morale and keeping them motivated.

Focus on customers: Why Indigo stands out

Shifting focus from employees to customers. With a motivated team supporting you, review plans, redesign policies to empathise with your customers, show extra concern, connect and communicate with them and keep them at ease.

Between March 14 and March 24, I received four emails from Indigo.

On March 14, I received a mail from the CEO’s office explaining everything they do as an airline to make sure that the risk for everyone in their care is minimized and how this also helps to contain the spread of COVID-19. This mail was pretty much in detail from the ground up and back.

On March 17, I received a mail from them requesting for patience when trying to reach them, as their incoming emails and calls have spiked 5 times in volume. They further explained the challenges and to meet them, they were working 6 days a week instead of 5 days.

On March 22, the team sends another mail about the limited resources in their call centre and alternately to connect on their website, over Facebook and Twitter.

On March 24, there is another mail from their CEO’s office showing solidarity with the lockdown by the government. They assure customers about zero cancellation fees and date change fee subject to certain conditions.

I am sure many of you have received these mails.

Now what made them stand apart in my eyes? While I am a member of a couple of other airlines, I received these mails only from one airline. The others have been busy sending me their standard statements with points accumulated and how I could redeem them. How very sad!

At a time when the entire world is on edge over the coronavirus outbreak, they empathised with the customer and worked on reducing the stress to a certain degree with transparency and assurances.

In these trying times each and every company can empathise with their customers and keep them abreast of what they are doing, how they are working to enhance the customers’ experience. If every organisation focused on the customer and worked in making his life a little easier, the customer could focus more on his personal challenges with more gusto and isolate himself in a comfortable state.

Going the extra mile to help your community

Finally, how are you helping your community? Are you going the extra mile with your CSR activities and working to overwhelm your community with acts of benevolence?

Here are some news reports doing the rounds on WhatsApp:

Taj Group hotels are serving free food to the doctors and staff of Mumbai’s government hospitals and working on taking the initiative Pan India.

Tata Trusts committed Rs 500 crore to fight coronavirus. Tata Sons commits additional Rs 1000 crore towards tackling COVID-19

Sonu Nigam presented an intimate and emotional one-hour online concert in support of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a 'Janata Curfew' on Sunday.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced grants totalling $3.7 million to support efforts in the Seattle-King County region to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government is trying to keep the people locked in with reruns of India’s most famous and viewed TV series, Ramayan and Mahabarath.

Reliance Industries has announced a donation of Rs 500 crore to PM CARES Fund and is setting up a 100-bed hospital.

Bollywood stars are making a beeline to the kitchens to tell their fans how to cook and how well they cook.

Look around, get smart, invest, innovate and reap!

There are many leading individuals and organisations that have done their bit, but there are many more corporates that need to wake up and listen to the world calling for help.

Governments alone cannot do it. They need help from corporates, leaders, managers, employees and individuals. We need to work together and ensure that the positive virus of care and compassion spreads and eradicates the

coronavirus.

Gangadhar Krishna is the founder of  delightingcustomers.com and author of an illustrative business book titled ‘Delighting Customers Is …’. He firmly believes in organic business development based on the philosophy ‘Sales Heaps but Service Reaps’. He can be reached at gangadhar@delightingcustomers.com.
First Published on Apr 7, 2020 08:09 am
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