What we should (not) do now?

Life is more about “what we should avoid doing” rather than “what we should be doing”. “An ember burns where it falls” they say, but the phone calls I received yesterday made me realize that I should at least offer some advice to help us avoid repeating the same mistakes.

The fact that the Fed has once again cut rates made people upset rather than cheering them up. The late night phone calls I’ve exchanged with a lot of business owners showed me that these people are convinced that things will not get better and get maybe even worse.

For instance, they told me that they have now made peace with the fact that their profit will decrease by at least 20-25%. The fact that total sales will be lower than expected in March, April and May, which are the busiest three months of the year, ongoing challenges in the supply of goods, and ever-increasing costs will apparently make business owners take some strict measures, including staff cutbacks.

Prior to letting anyone go, businesses usually look for employees with 2 or 3 years of service since they know they will have to pay a big severance to the senior ones if they ever decide to let them go. Sadly, every time, these relatively new employees with major potential for the future is the ones who must pay the price in such times of crisis. The most honourable thing a boss could do here is to cut back on corporate luxury spending, but unfortunately, they easily let go of their skilled human capital.

Indeed, it’s quite difficult to find well-trained, well-educated, experienced employees these days. Suffering from corporate blindness, senior staff, on the other hand, lack dynamism compared to those who are becoming more experienced each day. Although new employees cause lower labour costs, they can’t be as productive as the experienced ones. We are all shocked as coronavirus pandemic is sweeping the world, but we should have learned from the past challenges the economy went through before.

As it’s the quality of its human resources, not the total number of companies, will help Turkey to grow bigger as a country, I think companies must take this opportunity to offer trainings to their staff, opt for different types of leave or flexible working hours if necessary. There a huge difference between “losing your job” and “being on leave”. Maybe this pandemic will help us realize that flexible working hours can improve efficiency.

“Coronavirus shock now becomes a risk…”

During these hard times, companies that make efforts to increase employee satisfaction and those that hold on to their employees no matter what will definitely improve customer loyalty, efficiency and see their profit go higher. In the meantime, HR departments must make efforts to create a new work model and focus on the organisation design and the training of human capital which will be required for the new model, while IT teams are working on a strong digital infrastructure for the model’s proper operation.

Apparently, we slowly but surely headed to a new era where a lot of things will be done with minimum physical contact. I believe that banks, stadiums, shopping malls and all other social gathering places which stood idle during the week will once again be filled with people once the danger is gone. We should switch to a new system where people can place orders, submit requests and carry out most of their activities as fast as we could.

Accordingly, Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency of Turkey and other institutions must adopt new practices that do not require “wet signature”. A fast and successful transition from physical documentation to electronic environment in corporate life would help us to be one step ahead.

Coronavirus outbreak came as a shock. But now, it is becoming a major risk just like an earthquake. Hopefully, governments will take steps to design “zero-touch” manufacturing and logistics processes.