Unprecedented times with Covid-19, business decision makers prepare for a soft landing and focus on employee retention

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By Andrew Seow, Regional General Manager, Rimini Street Southeast Asia and Greater China,

The Covid-19 pandemic is attacking health and crippling the economy. Businesses are understandably cautious. No one knows what tomorrow holds. The virus plays by its own rules and we all have to adapt to new information accordingly. There is no handbook to guide us through these unprecedented times; CEOs and decision makers across the globe are doing what they think is best.

What is apparent is that many decision makers have already, or are looking at, how they manage their business through the crisis in progressive stages.

Keeping staff

Many of the CEOs and CIOs have a clear number one priority: save jobs where they can. Even at a time when many businesses have seen a marked drop in revenue the priority is clear: keeping their people employed. 

According to S&P Global Ratings, unemployment rates across Asia Pacific could rise by more than 3 percentage points, twice as large as during the average recession, as social distancing measures hit the service sector which contributes to the large number of job opportunities.  A business losing staff during a downturn means it is losing people who have been ideal for the role – and helped it succeed. There is also a technical level of expertise built up over time and adapted to the specific quirks and intricacies of each customer’s unique requirements that isn’t so easily replaced with a new round of hires.

Decision makers, from government to businesses of all sizes, want as soft a landing as possible following the cessation of these turbulent times. Keeping people they can rely on when that moment comes will be vital to recovery.

Adapting processes

Keeping staff employed is one thing; keeping them working is another thing entirely. As businesses adapt to remote work, many are building up their capabilities from scratch. Simple things some organisations take for granted are new to others: VPN access and remote desktops; conference dial-in options and moving pertinent files and applications as quickly as possible to the cloud are just a few of the technical capabilities many businesses are now implementing.

In addition, slower networks need to be considered and processes amended to suit less-than-ideal conditions. It means support for staff – not just emotional but also technical – is paramount.

Rationalising around the edges

Most organisations are looking to lower their baseline costs to ease pressure on their bottom line, particularly if the crisis is prolonged.

Once the reality of the “new normal” sets in and the Government’s raft of stimulus packages are assessed, routines will begin to take shape and decision makers will begin to look at their technology and the underlying costs to see where they can lower them while maintaining efficiency. This could come in the form of reducing maintenance costs for software platforms, or the deferment of major IT upgrades.

Preparing for the other side

In the aftermath of Covid-19, while businesses return to the new normal, how much business are they able to return to is another question. Industries have been seemingly decimated, such as retail, travel and hospitality. Building new relationships will be paramount, and the customer base or interest may have changed dramatically.

It could be some time before the new normal becomes a memory, so the rationalisation process around IT systems and upgrades is likely to stay in the short term as businesses remain somewhat cautious with non-essential spending.

In the end, decision makers are hopefully prioritising employment of staff and the company is only as good as the company one keeps, and it is people that will allow a business to land softly on the other side and, ultimately, bounce back.

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