Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service, with Tia Tassava
With renewed but fading optimism, the federal government will agree on the HEROES Act, the steady march of unsettling news coming faster and more furiously heightens every management team’s urgency for taking appropriate measures to protect and grow their businesses.
Within a compressed 24-hour timeframe, cornerstone Fortune 500 companies, Disney, Royal Dutch Shell, Raytheon, Dow Chemical, Allstate, Marathon Oil, United, and American Airlines announced combined planned layoffs directly impacting approximately 100,000 employees. Without exception, the common root cause is a reaction to deeply unfavorable to declining business conditions.
This follows news that a whopping 610 New York City businesses have filed for bankruptcy between mid-March and late-September 2020, a 40% increase; more are expected by year’s end. Faced with a $1 billion 2020-21 school year deficit, New York crown jewel, 64 campus state university system is subject to another 25% cut in critical funding. Perhaps putting it mildly, last Tuesday’s presidential debate did little to instill confidence that any elected official will calmly and swiftly restore order anytime soon. And now that COVID-19 has reached high, wide, and deep across the federal government, the uncertainties and risks only compound. Taken together and projecting ahead, this confluence of events brings us back to a recurring theme of these weekly crisis management columns, now in our sixth month.
Regular readers can offer legitimate criticism; these weekly columns routinely reinforce several key crisis management strategies and tactic–proven fundamentals–rather than offering particularly new and interesting ideas every week. Either as an observation or as criticism, it’s entirely accurate because fundamentals always rule, and in volatile conditions, adherence to proven business fundamentals is vital. To qualify as a fundamental, something must be universally applicable at all times across all things; by definition, there can only be a small number of fundamentals.
As a matter of business fundamentals the difference between mass layoff measures those major US corporations had to take and companies more successfully navigating through these unprecedented times starts with the most fundamental of all: reactive vs. proactive. In each case, these leading companies drastically reducing payrolls are reacting to business conditions, attempts to catch up.
This is not to say proactive companies will never reduce the size of their workforce, far from it. Proactive companies always seek greater operating efficiencies, adopt useful technologies reducing the reliance on labor, and maintain appropriate size, skill, and staff shape. Utilizing advanced scenario planning, proactive companies amass all the horrifying late September 2020 news to avoid events beyond direct control to allow more business walls to come tumbling around them.
Proactive companies indeed find value in and appreciate much-needed government aid while recognizing that stimulus or rescue packages do not make for a sustainable enterprise. Hospitality leaders who are consistently employing the proven fundamentals emphasized each week in Total Food Service instantly recognize the welcome news of easing COVID-19 restrictions. However, it is also at odds with rising volumes of positive tests in more than half the United States requiring even greater scenario planning vigilance. Most importantly, proven fundamentals must be converted into swift and appropriate action so that you can best control your destiny.
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