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COVID-19: HOW NIGERIAN COMPANIES ARE RESPONDING 

  CONTENTS 

Introduction: 

THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC 

 Respondents & Responses: 

WHO WE REACHED? 

 Covid-19: Its Impact on Businesses: 

WHAT HAS HAPPENED? 

 Proactive & Preventive Measures:  

COVID-19: HOW NIGERIAN COMPANIES ARE RESPONDING TO WORKPLACE ABSENCES 

 Conclusion 

 INTRODUCTION: 

THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC 

 Corona virus has affected hundreds of thousands of people, and the growing impact on the global economy calls for business leaders to take a lead in providing solutions on the evolving situations and implications of Covid-19 in the business sector. 

Leading companies and businesses have revealed how the virus is affecting consumer behavior, in Nigeria reportedly ran a sample test on  35,345 persons, out of which  5959 confirmed, 182 deaths and 1594 recovered, particularly in Lagos, described as the fastest growing city in Nigeria with population of over 20 million, and been a major beneficiary of corona virus intervention funds.  

 Everything, in the country is slowing down by the day, suspending schools across the country – be they public or private, 70% of state government workers asked to stay at home, private companies closed, no events, wedding or social gatherings with the most recent move of enforcing people to stay at home, closing down shops and markets. 

This result might cause inflation and equally impact negatively on many businesses particularly start –ups given high uncertainty around production. In our latest survey, in which 40 per cent of companies that already have or expect supply chain issues said it could take between three and six months to get business back to normal once the issue’s end, while 25 per cent said it will take six months. 

Among the industries seeing the greatest impact from the fallout are hospitality and travel (89%), education (87%) and media and entertainment (80%), Fashion and Styles (80%).  

Nevertheless, business leaders across the board (95%) said they’re taking new measures curb the impact of the virus. That includes communicating more regularly with employees (88%), adopting new health and safety procedures (89%), cancelling major events (97%) and (97%) halting business travel, providing an opportunity for leaders to innovate and find new ways of doing business. 

 

Respondents & Responses: 

WHO WE REACHED? 

We reached out to 150 and fortunately (or unfortunately) 50 responded – we assume the vast majority of those who couldn’t respond yet were result of the shock, suddenness and unpreparedness in which both the pandemic and State and Federal Governments directives on stay at home policy meet them. Fifty (50) Business Leaders in Lagos gave their views and opinions on this global pandemic and how it affect their businesses, and what efforts, measure or reactions they have put in place to mitigate the economic or financial lose to their firms. 

Our survey on this global pandemic (covid-19) was focused on their reactions and economic decision since index case in Lagos was first confirmed. Their responses and actions so far suggested what can be called the Black Swan phenomenon, as they see this as both unpredictable and improbable.  

The Black Swan 

Nicolas Taleb’s The Black Swan is a well-known metaphor for underestimating coincidence, the highly improbable and its impact. Unfortunately, how COVID-19  has overtaken the world is a perfect example. In the future, black swan events will continue to play a decisive role but people will only recognize these phenomena afterward because we do not focus on details and fail to see generalities. 

Characteristics of a black swan event: 

  • It is difficult to impossible for most people to see the phenomenon. Therefore, the unpredictability is great. 
  • The social impact in various areas is far-reaching. 
  • Afterward, people always find an explanation through rationalization to make it predictable. This type of cognitive bias explains being relatively blind to future black swan events. 

However, they have since taken one action or the other to rationalize the economic implications or impact on their businesses.  

Covid-19: Its Impact on Businesses: 

WHAT HAS HAPPENED? 

Society is, as it were, “on hold.” Businesses are lock-down. In many cases, this also applies to about 90% of the industries across many Nations. 

 And since we agreed that COVID-19 is a classic example of a black swan event as described by Nicolas Taleb in his classic: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Nobody saw this coming and the drastic social consequences are still hardly visible. 

Society worldwide is not sufficiently, or robustly prepared for a pandemic. From China to Italy; from the Netherlands to the UK; from Spain to the US. Global society and health care systems are cracking at the seams with far-reaching negative human, social and economic consequences. There are poignant specific examples: the shortages of mouth masks, respiratory equipment and healthcare professionals, the massive unemployment, and the (imminent) social disruption. 

Globally, Businesses also appears not to be effectively prepared for a pandemic or other black swan event. It seems obvious that you need to take action quickly in a black swan event. We are seeing this in the current situation with private sector in two standard action patterns: doing more of the same and doing the same better. 

Doing More Of The Same 

  • The economy is stalling and there is a demand for social distancing. As a result, Businesses are forced to stop all travels, meetings and supply chain activities such as customer relationship management, customer Service Management, demand management, order Fulfilment, manufacturing flow management, procurement, product Development and commercialization, returns management (in case the product is faulty or something) etc. 

 As a primary response, businesses asked their workers to go home and work from home via online en masses to support the best possible ways they can serve their customers and in turn their organizations. To action this approach—moving from face-to-face to online— professional teams receive support from, among others, L & D firms such as McTimothy Associates in setting your a Remote Working via articles, eBooks, and Virtual Training on Working from Home – Remote Working. 

Doing The Same Better 

Can you do the same, or better, by moving from face-to-face to online? That question can be answered by checking out what’s happening in restaurants or other food chain businessesSome have reported that restaurants are serving takeaways during this crisis. The food chain suppliers have resorted into reaching their customer via WhatsApp, Instagram etc to reach their customers urge them to place order via these platforms while they use dispatch riders or other form of logitstic providers to deliver the ordered items. This is a form of doing the same better compared to regular takeaway restaurants. 

Doing the same better means that businesses must offer assisted services to their customers while being humane/empathetic to their customers because of the pandemic and without compromise of quality products/services being delivered. This can be done by working consistently to meet customers need. 

 Proactive & Preventive Measures:  

COVID-19: HOW NIGERIAN COMPANIES ARE RESPONDING TO WORKPLACE ABSENCES 

 The key themes that emerge from the questions raised by the survey are: Time-off Policy, Work-from-home Policy, Pay policy for affected employees, etc 

  • Time- Off Policy: 

The survey shows that organizations, trying to balance employee needs with financial realities, are employing a variety of approaches to time-off policies in response to COVID-19.  Nearly half (48%) of employers require employees to use sick leave first, and then vacation leave and finally potential PTO for corona virus absences. 

  • Work-from-home policy:  

64% of organizations have already implemented a work-from-home policy for their employees. And 98% of companies who haven’t offered work-from-home will implement it if they see the situation deteriorating in the coming days.  

While companies do see this practice as one of the effective measures to ensure safety, there still persists a long chain of questions being worked out as this shift occurs – motivation, alignment, connectivity, etc. This is especially going to be challenging for the manufacturing sector, as there are certain roles that could not be performed remotely. 

  • Pay policy for affected employees: 

The survey asked participants if they have a pay policy for employees who cannot opt for work-from-home but have been asked to stay away from the work environment. Only 40% of companies said they have a pay policy in place. Among those 40%, most companies are offering salary under the current leave policy. However, few companies shared that they have extended a special pay leave of 14 and in some cases 28 days and also 20% of organizations increased PTO for individuals who are sick and/or caring for a sick family member; 18% of organizations have granted additional PTO for parents who are caring for children whose schools are closed. 

“Our research shows that only a minority of employers plan to downsize or ask employees to take unpaid leave, making more effective use of technology and freezing new hiring to cut costs.” 

  • Organizations are employing several cost-cutting measures 

The survey shows that most employers plan to cut costs while minimizing impact to pay for existing employees when possible. Seventy percent of organizations report that the main cost-cutting measure they plan to use is more effective use of technology. Nearly half of organizations plan to freeze new hiring. A greater percentage of organizations plan to reduce work for external partners rather than employees — one-fifth of organizations plan to stop or limit consultant spend and/or reduce the number of contract workers. Only 10% of employers plan to reduce working hours, and just 6% report asking employees to take unpaid leave. 

  • Preparedness level: 

The survey found that most organizations are still not ready to face the crisis that can arise. Only 44 percent of companies agreed that they are well or very well-prepared with policies that can support employees and their families. Practices like a consistent communication plan in times of crisis (84%), suspending non-essential business travels (88%), and sanitizing workplaces on a more frequent basis (82%) have become a requisite.  

Different practices that organizations are emphasizing on include reiterating and over-communicating policies around safety/precautions (58%), quarantining employees who recently visited highly affected areas (50%), restricting outside visitors/third parties (50%), quarantining employees exposed to confirmed cases (43%), and monitoring temperature of all employees at the entrance to the building (42%). 

  • Travel and meetings: 

About 90% respondents have suspended non-essential business travel internationally and domestically, and another 50 percent have restricted outside visitors and third parties. 

About 75 percent of organizations that participated in the survey have agreed that the outbreak of COVID-19 has halted critical business activities (traveling, meetings, etc.)   

The corona virus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China has spread to at least 144 countries and has sickened more than 204,000 people, with more than 8,000 deaths. Governments have shut borders and imposed quarantines, and companies have imposed travel bans. The human and economic impacts on businesses have been stark. 

This epidemic is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review the strategies, policies, and procedures they have in place to protect employees, customers, and operations in this and future epidemics.  

However, will layoffs and reduced pay really solve the situation?  

Well, let’s see the turn of events. 

 

Conclusion: 

Without doubt, the novel Corona virus (COVID-19) is, going to change the way we engage, the way we work, the way we manage people and other resources and will change the face of business as we know it. What initially started as a localized health crisis in Wuhan has crystallized into a global economic issue as many businesses can no longer continue with operations as usual. 

 

Remember to be #Proactive and Stay Safe!! 

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By Gbagada Expressway, Gbagada Lagos. 

Tel: +2347034854045 

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Abuja Office:  

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