By Kuben Rayan, CEO of RentWorks
If I had to choose one word to describe South Africans, it would be resilient. Our triumphs over historical struggles and human injustices show that, when faced with adversity, South Africa is a country that comes together during difficult times. The year 2020 didn’t only bring a new year and a new decade, but also a new adversary – COVID-19. Once again, as a nation, we need to stand together to triumph. And what will ensure that the outcome is a victorious one is how we as humans, individuals, and businesses respond to circumstances beyond our control.
With the recent coronavirus outbreak and consequent lockdown of our country, many people have spent this time of isolation to reflect on what truly matters – in their personal and professional lives. As an asset rental company, we think about tangible assets every day. But without the passion, dedication, and expertise of our staff, RentWorks would not exist. This is why our most valuable assets are our employees – and so is yours.
In this Sound Advice series, I will be sharing practical guidelines and insights to businesses for the lockdown period and beyond. In this article, I will be specifically focusing on the importance of staying connected – especially with employees – through effective communication.
The key is communication
Although the circumstances brought on by the coronavirus is beyond our control, what we can control is how we respond to it. As business owners or executive leaders, the worst response to this pandemic is radio silence.
Now, more than ever, communication will be key. From a practical perspective, it keeps people informed; from an emotional one, it keeps them connected. This may not seem as important when faced with a global health crisis, but studies show that the lack of human connection for long periods of time can have an adverse effect on our health. Staying connected with people has been proven to increase the immune system, a vital buffer against contracting COVID-19.
There is also another important benefit that constant communication with employees offer: being informed. With fake news spreading almost faster than the virus and news outlets preaching doom and gloom about the future state of our society and economy, it is very important to advise staff not to feed the fodder by spreading misinformation and adding to the fear that their colleagues are already experiencing. A trustworthy resource for information regarding coronavirus developments is the SA government’s COVID-19 website and the World Health Organisation (WHO) website’s news section.
Remember to also encourage staff to rather check in with one another and be a support system during these difficult times than conduits for fear-inducing information. In addition to this, it is essential to keep constant communication flowing as it provides direction and focus for employees.
The same principle applies to suppliers and clients. With many businesses unable to operate as per the norm, this shouldn’t translate into a lack of communication either. Just because you can’t trade or sell, doesn’t prohibit you from getting in contact and staying connected. What you do during this time will determine whether your business relationships are weaker or stronger when we emerge on the other side.
Over and above the strain that isolation is placing on all of us, many businesses are also under financial pressure. The solution is the same: consistent information and communication to all stakeholders, especially your bankers and suppliers. Be honest and keep them up-to-date, even if the news is not positive. This will form a key part in mitigating the risks and finding long-term sustainable solutions that are mutually beneficial.
In the next article of this series, I will look at how businesses can readapt to functioning in a ‘business-unusual’ environment by rethinking their strategies, arming themselves with information, and sharing ideas to inspire their industries.
For more thought-provoking articles or industry insights, follow Kuben Rayan on LinkedIn by clicking here; alternatively, visit the RentWorks website at www.rentworksafrica.com.