By forcing us to acknowledge our shared vulnerability, the pandemic brought out a softer side to ‘doing business’. Now that business is almost back to normal, we would do well to incorporate some of the valuable lessons Covid taught us.
According to reports, about three million South Africans lost their jobs over the hard lockdown period of Covid-19 in 2020. Now, more than two years later, the country is still battling to recoup these losses and recover from the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic.
These challenges are ongoing and real, however, while we can never minimize the health, social and financial impact of Covid-19, the pandemic taught us some valuable lessons in humanity.
By forcing us to acknowledge our shared vulnerability, the pandemic brought out a softer side to ‘doing business’. Company leadership rallied to support its employees through various initiatives that ranged from delivering food parcels to counselling services and online teambuilding events. Likewise, company culture and the social aspect of work took on a heightened relevance for employees when we were tasked with staying at home. This, together with a general appreciation for our jobs, when so many were forced to stop working as a result of redundancy or poor health.
These difficult times also brought out an appreciation of the people who risked their lives at the frontlines of the pandemic – not only the doctors, nurses and healthcare staff, but our cleaners, security guards, dustbin collectors and others who ensured that when the country ‘shut down’ our essential services were still taken care of.
Now that the business world has, for the most part, returned to normal, we would do well to incorporate some of the lessons learnt in a time of crisis. Things like:
– From cleaners to CEOs, we all have a role to play in making society work. A business is only as good as the teams that drive it. By placing value on people you invite them to be part of the solution. Instead of a top-down approach, invite employees to brainstorm ways to improve the business.
– Create incentives and empower employees to step up and find ways to improve the business. Investing in employees through training and education opens up different ways of thinking that can be applied to the business.
– Get out of your comfort zone. The pandemic challenged us to find new ways of connecting us with one another and often better ways of doing business.
There are numerous examples of how South Africans from all walks of life came together to offer support, care and humanity during the pandemic, but we shouldn’t have to wait for the next crisis to prove our nation’s capacity for resilience and compassion. Let’s take the good that we’ve realized and make it part of a more humane approach to business.
By Sibu Mbatha – Head of Shared Services, Riversands I-Hub
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