The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to have a devastating impact not only on the health of individuals around the world but is also severely upsetting global economies. Like in the rest of the world, the lockdown in Saudi Arabia has been particularly tough on most businesses – big and small – who have had to lay off large numbers of staff due to limited economic activity, low sales and consequent losses, and in some cases, also had to shut shop. However, with the easing of restrictions and companies reopening for business, we have entered the second phase of the lockdown and it is crucial that organizations take the necessary measures to overcome the economic uncertainties created by the virus and return to pre-pandemic levels of business and growth.
In a recent Twitter poll, W7Worldwide asked C-level executives what steps they are taking to navigate through “Phase 2” of the COVID-19 crisis. The question was addressed to C-level executives, namely the CEO, COO, CFO, etc., because holding senior positions, they play a strategic role within an organization and are responsible for company-wide decisions.
The poll, conducted in both Arabic and English, had participants choose from one of the four given options: Working with the Government, Future Planning, Transparency, and All of the Above.
Of the total 724 participants, 29.9% in English and 38.6% in Arabic voted for “All of the Above,” meaning they plan to use a combination of approaches to weather the crisis, spanning from cooperating with the government and seeking its help, to charting out a solid recovery plan for the company as well as keeping their customers, partners and stakeholders in the loop of any new company-related developments.
About 17.5% of the participants in the English poll and 14.3% of participants in the Arabic poll said they would be “Working with the government.” The Saudi government has allocated SR50 billion to support the private sector as part of its initiatives aimed at mitigating economic repercussions from the disease outbreak. The package targets small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and economic activities that have been most affected by the pandemic. These initiatives, targeting private sector enterprises, investors and individuals, include direct support, delaying receipts from the private sector, exemptions, delays in loan payments, wage support, and job protection schemes.
Meanwhile, 28% and 19.3% of voters in the English and Arabic polls, respectively, opted for “Future Planning,” whereas 24.6% English voters and 27.8% Arabic voters stressed on “Transparency.”
The W7Worldwide poll makes clear that business leaders are ready to take proactive measures to rescue their organizations from the crisis and that these measures could vary from company to company.
The poll also reaffirms the role of effective leadership in wading through hard times. A chief executive should be able to motivate the employees while backing up those efforts with decisive action in the form of a strong growth and recovery strategy.
As COVID-19 disrupts economies and lives, companies are struggling to understand the full extent of damage caused due to the crisis on their businesses and come up with the best possible response. Businesses have been forced to develop innovative ways of addressing the challenges facing them. The aim of all organizations should be to protect lives and livelihoods. The decisions business leaders take now will have a long-term effect on the future of their companies, its employees and its customers. They must be open to all possibilities and prepare for both best- and worst-case scenarios, given that no one really knows for how long the pandemic is here to stay. Some of the key trends that have emerged in business recovery plans include Technology adoption, a focus on sustainability and environment protection, promoting local manufacturing, an increase in remote working, emphasis on corporate social responsibility, and others.