2020’s Unexpected Silver Lining for Businesses

Erin Lau | Insperity

IT IS NO surprise that 2020’s original business plans are practically obsolete or, at the very least, a very loose guide to business this year. What is not so obvious is that 2020 has presented businesses a silver lining by offering an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate every aspect of how business is conducted.

Business owners and leaders need to use this time to carefully review policies that have been adopted in previous months, and examine what is working well and what can be improved. The following tips will show how business owners and leaders can optimize strategies now, in order to strengthen their companies’ futures.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis identifies a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which is an essential strategic planning technique and perhaps more relevant now than ever. As business leaders plan for the remainder of 2020, each aspect of the business should be considered with a critical eye. The potential revelations can change the way business is done, not just for the rest of 2020, but into the future as well.

One major change many employers have faced is managing a virtual workplace. While productivity levels may have remained strong, a virtual work environment can be more difficult to manage and may not allow all employees to do their best work. For instance, the lack of social interaction and work-life balance issues may adversely impact employee mental health and engagement. Consider policies, programs or procedures that can help mitigate these concerns, and incorporate key findings into business operations, corporate culture and other key areas.

Connect with Employees

Once a SWOT analysis has been conducted, go a step further and take it to the front lines. Ask employees at all levels of the company what they feel has worked well during the first half of the year. There have been dramatic changes in work and life, and hearing from various team members will give business leaders a more well-rounded overall picture. Staff members can offer boots-on-the-ground insight that may not be as apparent to leadership. Asking employees for feedback may also enhance acceptance and adoption of any coming changes or shifts.

Create a Strategy

The initial research and analysis process should put companies on course to create longer-term plans that address each aspect of business operations, from customer engagement and logistics to company culture and employee policies. Through this SWOT exercise, it may become evident that old policies and projections are outdated or irrelevant. The work spent now to shore up the strategy for the rest of 2020, while leaving room for other unforeseen business disruptions or employee management challenges, better positions businesses to flex as needed in the future.

Communicate Clearly

A thoughtful, forward-looking strategy must have the ability to change with the times. Any new plans or policies, as well as any associated implications for day-to-day operations, are best received when they are communicated clearly and at all appropriate levels of an organization. This transparent approach helps ensure everyone is on the same page and leads to greater acceptance and engagement. When implementing any kind of change, it is important to arm leaders and managers with the right knowledge and messaging, and to also encourage employees to ask questions. Many people are anxious right now, so clearly communicating change can help calm any fears about how the business operations will work moving forward.

While productivity levels may have remained strong, a virtual work environment can be more difficult to manage and may not allow all employees to do their best work.

Only time will tell when “business as normal” will return. In the meantime, companies should use this unique opportunity to take a closer look at the business and its operations, in order to be best prepared for the future.

Erin Lau is manager of human resource services with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and performance solutions. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 34 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, visit www.insperity.com.