By the Partners of Vaxa Group: Todd Crowley, Sarah Morgan, Greg Bourke and Curtis West
Australian businesses have weathered a year-long storm. Many companies have grown and flourished, while others have just continued to get by; some entities have disappeared from sight, and new agile players have emerged from seemingly nowhere.
JobKeeper has kept many businesses afloat during the pandemic, but the reality of that lifeline ending, might mean significant impact to your bottom-line.
This might sound confronting, especially if you haven’t forecasted immediate changes to your staffing and resourcing, but across the wider landscape, how are your customers, suppliers, referrers or advocates about to be affected?
There are preparatory steps you can take to more accurately identify how your business is about to be affected, or to assess ways you can support your key stakeholders and customers through the coming weeks and months.
Your people are your greatest asset, and no matter what the coming days hold, our advice is that you do everything to support them as they face uncertainty too; while this might be a difficult time for some, as things turn around, there may be new opportunities to welcome back affected team members in time.
The experts behind professional services firm Vaxa Group have shaped advice that businesses can adopt to position themselves strongly ahead of JobKeeper ending on April 1.
In terms of assessing and stabilising key persons and processes, business can immediately:
- Update existing stakeholder matrix
- Assess how your business, and others you’re connected with, may be affected
- Contact key customers and stakeholders to determine their support needs
- Be prepared to talk openly with all stakeholders
- Ensure communications tools and people are in place to explain business continuity
- Assess organisational cultural ‘temperature’ and consider activities to support and rebuild confidence
- Reach out to experts if people are not coping.
Managing your people communications
Advice from Marketing and Communications Specialist Sarah Morgan, and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist Greg Bourke (both Partners of Vaxa Group).
If your business is facing restructure or reduction of employee numbers and capability, it is important you take stock of what you have achieved as a service and what value you delivered to your front line.
Similarly, it’s crucial you take this approach when talking with people who will leave your business or organisation. If you are prepared ahead of meeting with staff facing job loss, and have a list of what you achieved together, it will set your conversations to come from a place of gratitude and appreciation that what they achieved was mission-critical and that there will always be future opportunities.
It is important to remember the current ‘economic temperature’ too – the nation is grappling with instability, and during times of uncertainty, people with a vested interest in undermining your business will be ready to capitalise. Exercise caution in your written materials and remember that all e-correspondence can be forwarded or, worse case, quoted on social media or in media coverage.
Consider face-to-face communications wherever possible, and where needed, a considered all-staff email can be sent that identifies changes, manages expectations and maintains the trust of those closest to your business. Remember everyone needs to be singing from the same song sheet…different messaging is what sinks the most thought-out strategy.
It will be important to exercise sensitivity in your internal and external communications and in doing so, it will yield value in terms of reputational preservation and risk mitigation:
- Be effective in designing a clear communications strategy including key messages (this could go to a range of stakeholders including staff, families, and clients).
- Maintain open communications and reliable referral points if there are staff concerns.
- Maintain close client engagement and retain staff with critical client contact points.
- If staff are leaving, debrief and maintain support – demonstrate duty of care, including for your business (social media criticism can degrade reputation and client confidence).
- Ensure you continue offering support to your remaining staff; CEO and executives should be visible during times of difficulty.
Managing your software and integrations
Advice from Data Analysis and Integrations Specialist Curtis West (and Partner of Vaxa Group).
With many employees undertaking work digitally in some capacity, it’ll be important to consider your ongoing security and business continuity plans.
If you haven’t already, you should work to formally understand who has access to your business systems and its data. You can do so by completing a matrix, with each employee as a row, and your business systems as a column. Consider how you can reassign access to each of the systems – perhaps even do a trial run for your mission-critical systems, like your finance system or CRM.
If a staff member does leave, consider the appropriate timing to reassign this access. In some cases, it might be necessary on short notice to protect your ongoing business, but in others it can be a more relaxed process.
Staff also naturally retain a lot of business process information in their heads – information that can be very important for your business to continue. Using your matrix, consider what each staff member may know of each system, with particular focus to identify single points of failure. Consider how long it may take a staff member to document and handover their knowledge of the area, and to whom. Over the long-term, you may wish to introduce a business process mapping tool, like Promapp or similar, to support this.
As you manage access to your business systems, you may be leaving valuable cost savings on the table. Use your matrix to compare your software bills, particularly looking for “users”, “seats”, or “head count” costs, as these may be able to be reduced with fewer users of the software.
Steps you can take now:
- Immediately consider staff leaving your business and what IT access and permissions you will need to retrieve or secure.
- Allow time for handover of key integration projects.
- Assess software and IT licence agreements are current; where necessary, reassign ownership of agreements to permanent staff.
Above all, keep a level head while working through the above and reach out for support where needed.