By taking action now, you might just save your reputation and help your business get back on its feet quicker when the storm passes.
 

 
 

Look for the good in a time of crisis

How do you want your business to be thought of when the Covid-19 crisis is over? Will you be able to stand tall and say that you have acted in the best interest of your customers, your employees and society? Or will you wish you had handled things differently? 
 
Is the damage already done?
 
We’ve seen the hammering some businesses have received from the press and public - including football clubs and flight operators - when their actions have been perceived to be unfair. Whether it’s because they haven’t paid their staff; have been unfair to suppliers; refused to refund customers; or furloughed employees when others within the businesses receive huge wages. These actions will result in damage to their reputation which may stick for years to come. 
 
Whilst some businesses have listened and acted upon what they have learned from their public floggings in a bid to reverse the damage already done, others have buried their heads in the sand and hoped that their followers will forget in time. These actions can sometimes reveal far more than what could be argued was a knee jerk reaction to a unique situation. They often act as a window into the true values of an organisation. 
 
The good ‘uns
 
It is those businesses - large and micro - that have been philanthropic in their actions, shown genuine care for communities, suppliers and employees, to which we should be paying close attention. There are so many companies getting the message right, doing the right thing, giving their time and skills away and going beyond what is expected to help others in this time of crisis.
 
We’ve heard of companies that have switched their manufacturing lines to produce PPE equipment for the NHS and for care workers. One of our clients, Supplies for Candles, has given away free soap to vulnerable members of the community and is helping people boost their income by gifting candle making kits and business start up advice. We've seen an insurance company giving an automatic refund for each car or van covered by them – a whopping 4.4million of them.
 
One company we’ve noticed hitting the right note is housebuilder, Bellway. It announced a 20% decrease in directors’ basic salary and fees in response to the Covid-19 crisis, donating the money to charities. Not only that, but the company pledged to match-fund the donations with a contribution to its national charity partner, Cancer Research UK, in response to the adverse impact on fundraising capacity as a result of the pandemic. Yay – go Bellway!
 
Another ‘goody’ is Cushman & Wakefield, which has launched a $5 million Global Employee Assistance Fund. As part of a commitment to supporting front-line employees, members of Cushman & Wakefield’s global management team will voluntarily forgo a portion of their salaries. The company will donate the forgone salaries to the fund, which will be dispersed to provide financial relief to those employees significantly impacted by the crisis.
 
We have also seen supermarkets making fantastic charitable gestures for vulnerable members of society as well as financial rewards for employees. Bradford-based Morrisons has offered support for British farmers and fishermen/women during the crisis, acknowledging that demand for certain foods ordinarily destined for restaurants and catering trade have fallen since the lockdown. Morrisons has responded by opening steak and seafood bars to offer a wider selection of steaks, joints, and seafood. It is also giving a 5% discount to all 2,700 of Morrisons’ farmers.
 
Take action now
 
We urge you to look around you and take in all the good that businesses are doing right now. Take note of the positives and consider how you want your business to be thought of when the Covid-19 crisis is behind us. The action you take now is the legacy you will leave behind.

Here are a few tips on action you can take now:
 
1) Rate your current business reputation on a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is 'the best it could be'). 
2) Ask yourself whether anything needs to change.
3) Revisit your company values: are you living and breathing them?
4) Think about how you want your business to be remembered when the crisis is over.
5) Are the actions you are taking now moving you towards this?
 
During times of change or uncertainty, the way you treat the people who matter to your organisation is key: employees, clients, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders. Staying true to your values as you work to reduce the impact of the current situation and steer your business through it will help make sure you are remembered for all the right reasons.
 
If you have taken positive steps to mitigate the impact of the crisis and would like to share your achievements, please do give us a call on 01904 610077. We’d love to help you tell your story. 
    
 
The Partners Group

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