Back in studio for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Elmer Kim and John Northcott. Our segment was dedicated to the economic impact of coronavirus, including developments such as the interest rate cut that occurred during the week, the potential for widespread decline in the travel/tourism industry, and what the Federal government can do to help business.
The first priority is to keep people safe and healthy, followed by the business reality of sustaining demand and coping in times of decline. Here are some questions that business leaders should be asking themselves:
Keeping staff members and customers safe:
- What are our obligations under legislation such as workplace health and safety?
- Are there similar regulations or guidelines that must be adhered to, in terms of keeping staff members, customers, and products safe?
- Do we have appropriate human resources policies in place to address situations of widespread illness or quarantine?
- Are there particular safeguards that should be implemented, such as travel and similar limitations?
- Where is the line between “business” and “personal”, in terms of imposing travel limitations?
Business continuity considerations:
- Have we identified the key processes within our business and developed strategies for execution in challenging times?
- Do we have systems, policies, and procedures to support a remote work environment?
- Does our remote work strategy address risk points such as security, privacy, and information sharing considerations?
- Do we have adequate depth in areas such as suppliers and service providers?
- Does succession exist for all key positions in the company?
- Does a labour market strategy exist to find skilled replacement staff quickly?
- What would happen if sales declined significantly for a period of time; could the company survive?
These are examples of the many areas that must be addressed to ensure that a company can continue to operate in challenging times and it is important to remember that sufficient systems and processes should be in place before they are actually needed. Doing so raises the likelihood that a company will survive in difficult times, as opposed to being swept away (remember that well managed competitors will have already completed this important work and will be focused on implementation, putting them several steps ahead of those who are less prepared). Advisors can help to identify areas of priority and how to put them in place efficiently and more quickly.
Thanks for watching. It will be interesting to see how coronavirus has evolved by the next time I am in studio; stay tuned.