COVID-19 – Another Excuse to Squeeze the Little Guy?

This might be the most important post I write this year so let’s get straight to the pointy end.

As we all sit here desperately brainstorming inventive ways of keeping our businesses afloat, a disturbing trend has come to light…Businesses that are not impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions but behaving as if they are.

Postponing business as usual activities while they “wait to see what happens”.

Halting growth plans, putting recruitment on hold and postponing business initiatives, just in case.

To be clear, I’m not talking about businesses that are genuinely experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic – cafes, travel companies, retail shops and the like.  

But large organisations in Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Government, Banking – some of Australia’s largest industries – acting as though they too have been dealt a death blow.

What do I mean? Consider this scenario…

Pre-coronavirus, Organisation X has been developing an employer branding initiative using customised post cards to promote mental health awareness.

COVID-19 happens, and the organisation puts the initiative on hold. Their business has not been impacted by the coronavirus restrictions but they decide this initiative is not core to their business and so they put a stop to it. (In fact, employer branding is an essential component of any business but that’s a story for another time).

Management sees this as a good decision – cut ‘unnecessary’ costs until we see what’s happening.

In the meantime, the marketing team designing the concept loses a job. The graphic designer contracted to develop the post cards loses a job. And the printing business, well, they no longer have a job to print.

Multiply this scenario by hundreds of large organisations choosing the same pre-emptive cost cutting approach and we now have multiple small, specialist businesses forced to let staff go or worse, shut up shop completely. More people unemployed. More people relying on government welfare to make ends meet.

And it doesn’t stop there. These former business owners and employees now can’t afford take away coffees or milkshakes for their kids and so, the already struggling cafes take an extra hit. They stop buying newspapers and wrapping paper, and local newsagents take a hit. They stop buying new toasters and baby clothes, and the retailers take a hit.

In turn, the cafes, newsagents, retailers and the like are now faced with downsizing their businesses in a desperate bid to stay afloat, and the vicious cycle continues.

Where does it end? It ends with a nationwide recession, where nobody wins.

This is not a hypothetical situation. This is a very real scenario, happening right now all over the country.

So please, before you postpone your next ‘business as usual’ initiative, take a minute and consider the bigger picture.

If your organisation can still spend money, it should. Instead of ‘hunkering down’ in preparation for the ‘bad times’, you can directly contribute to reducing the economic downturn, simply by continuing your business as usual activities.

In a time when some of Australia’s most significant economic players – Service and Tourism industries – have been decimated, your organisation can step up and help ensure we all make it to the other side of this.