Four tips to help businesses move past COVID-19
During a global health crisis, the wellbeing of employees and their families must be the top priority for businesses. Organisations across the world are encouraging flexible working, pausing all international travel and suggesting virtual meetings rather than face-to-face.
And, as a consequence of the spread of coronavirus across the world, the global economy is in a state of flux. Entire industries are shifting to remote working arrangements and businesses are attempting to carry out vital processes across a rapidly changing environment.
The end date for this crisis is impossible to predict. So what practical measures can businesses take to mitigate the impact?
Supporting Your Workforce
During a difficult period in the wider world, and as routines are disrupted, it’s important for employers to make health and wellbeing a top priority. By having flexible policies in place for employees, particularly those with small children or elderly relatives, the work environment becomes supportive and inclusive. Businesses must remember that this is not a standard work-from-home environment. Many employees are in the dual role of worker and caregiver, and an understanding and responsive management style is critical to avoiding employee burnout. This approach should be replicated in outward communications to customers, highlighting a culture that is understanding, professional and agile.
In such unprecedented times, it’s also important for businesses to be aware of incentives on offer from the government. Authorities around the world are providing grants to small businesses to ease the financial burden of uncertainty.
By thinking outside of the box, businesses can strengthen relationships with customers and build tighter bonds with suppliers and partners. For example, in the eCommerce world, we have seen Amazon preventing price increases on necessary medical supplies, to protect consumers. There are also examples of marketplaces easing policies to protect sellers in the case of delivery delays, and some have waived sellers’ refund fees to mitigate revenue losses at a time of increased consumer uncertainty. Payoneer has worked with SMBs to help them identify new infrastructure partners and routes to market with their product or service.
As we navigate the uncertain waters of this world health epidemic, we face a stark reminder of the importance of planning ahead. Now is the time to ensure business continuity processes are in place, and that we are prepared for the next unpredictable event.
To protect against particular markets or products struggling in a time of crisis, businesses can look to diversify risk by branching out into new markets and expanding their offerings. This applies to both the demand and the supply side of a business, and can help to spread the impact of potential losses. Certain new products might hold the key for driving revenue during a difficult time, or making changes to partners in the supple chain could ensure that stability is maintained for customers.
These are undoubtedly unprecedented times but it’s always those who are prepared who will prosper. Below are the key questions that decision makers need to be focused on if they are to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on their business:
Preparation – are you ready for the current situation to last weeks or months? If not, what can be actioned?
Support – from the wellbeing of employees, to customer service and outward communications, how can you ensure you maintain a culture of understanding?
Adapt – what can you do to preserve relationships with customers and suppliers?
Diversify – can you identify an alternative product, solution or territory that would provide respite from the challenging economic climate?
For more information on business topics in Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.