From crisis to recovery: How to adapt to ‘the new normal’

The first in a series of articles taking a deep dive into our Crisis to Recovery model.

Shortly after the Coronavirus pandemic began, we shared how businesses could bounce back to performance with Crisis to Recovery model. Here, we take a closer look at what it means to navigate the ‘new normal’ phase.

Most businesses have their continuity plans in place or have closed down completely. As countries start to reopen, and take baby steps towards some kind of normality, it is time to plan for recovery.

Good companies have already focused on three important things:

  • Their leaders have been visible and communicated clearly and effectively throughout the crisis,
  • Decision making has been fast, and the business has taken proactive steps to adapt in response to the crisis; and
  • There has been a regular cadence of outreach and support to furloughed and non-furloughed employees

But, if businesses want to survive, the pace needs to change. It’s time to start ramping up plans for growth and recovery - and engagement and communications professionals have a huge role to play.

Everyone keeps talking about the ’new normal’, but what does that really mean in practice?

The simple answer is that we don’t yet know, but the people working in your business can help to define what it might look like for you. And that ‘new normal’ will be different for every business and sector.

For retail, the next focus might be a complete revamp of store experiences to allow for social distancing measures as lockdown lifts. This might be bolstered by a greater emphasis on online propositions, innovative digital shopping experiences and community-building on social media. Luxury categories will be tackling the challenge of how they build and maintain intimate and personal relationships with their customers without human connection.

For banking, recovery could be an opportunity for financial institutions to rebuild trust with businesses and customers by supporting them through the biggest economic downturn since the financial crisis. These institutions will be closely watched and judged - by consumers and employees alike - for how they respond to the ever-evolving needs of their customers and society more broadly.

Irrespective of the sector, post-crisis recovery starts with your employees

One thing is true for all businesses: they will need to be more empathetic, more agile and more innovative than ever before. They will need to use this situation as a blueprint for the future of business and work.

It is important that businesses understand how to support employees in the right way at every level of their organisation – especially in times of uncertainty.

Empathy will help instil a stronger, more customer-centric culture, focused on proactively seeking out and responding to the needs of those you serve.

Shifting systems and processes to allow for flexibility and supercharge agility will feed a culture of innovation. It’s fundamental to helping businesses move from survive to thrive.

But where do you start?

There are six critical things we believe businesses need to do as they start to evolve from the crisis:

  1. Acknowledge things will be different in the future and be honest when you don’t yet have all the answers. Explain the journey the business needs to go on and the challenges this crisis presents.
  2. Show appreciation for how well your business pulled together to respond to the crisis. Recognise what worked well and say thank you.
  3. Learn from the experience but don’t just take the view from the top. Start a dialogue with your people to work through which of the new processes and ways of working were effective – identify together what should stay and what should go.
  4. Involve employees in hacking the solutions that will become the new normal. You can hack everything from working environment challenges, shift patterns, financial goals, and how you pivot your business for growth.
  5. Review every stage of the employee journey and evaluate what needs to change to reinforce what is now needed from employees – and what they need from the business to thrive. Ensure you review and change for L&D strategy to support the new requirements.
  6. Develop a rock-solid strategy for to re-engage and build trust with the employees the business furloughed, understanding that it won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution

United Culture’s team are experts at helping businesses transform and grow. We’ve worked across multiple sectors and within a range of budget constraints. If you need help creating the new normal for your organisation, or you want to bounce some ideas around, contact Victoria.Lewis-Stephens@unitedcultureco.com.