This is about two companies… one rich, the other poor. The poor company buys things that lose value very quickly, and do not generate any revenue or goodwill. In times of feast, the poor company spends quickly on parties and dinners and lunches, but only for certain people (the “in” crowd). They spend because that’s what all the other cool companies do. They don’t really know how much they spend on frivolous stuff, nor do they tie any returns or value back to those expenditures.
The poor company doesn’t look poor. They have goodies and there’s always something fun going on. They look hip and cool. But they are one pandemic away from shutting down (or having to borrow more money). The poor company values flash and sizzle over substance and value-add. Surprisingly, there always seems to be someone upset at the poor company, and word on the street is that it’s not a good place to work.
The rich company appears much more modest. They don’t have fancy game rooms or cafeterias, even though their sales are very healthy. The rich company talks for what seems like too long about where they put their money. Instead of just doing that party, they talk and talk and talk about it, strategically planning it. They spend money on things that will enhance their position in the market, investing in both their product and their people. The rich company talks about the return on investing in people and gives power and accountability to people over human resources. They talk about employer brand, retention, employee satisfaction, employee performance, and culture in a way that shows they believe in strive towards those things.
In down times the poor company tightens everywhere and lays off even critical employees. They panic and freeze spending.
The rich company relies on their planning and cash position to delay reduction in force any way they can, trying to keep some level of confidence from employees about their jobs and personal welfare. Instead of freezing, they go into build and restructure and reevaluate mode. The rich company invests deeper into people and systems to help for when the down times are gone. They work with customers to minimize customer pain and help their customer achieve their objectives, strengthening the relationship for many years to come.
These are two fabled examples, of course. But today we are seeing poor company and rich company play out. What started as a global health threat turned into a global economic crisis. Companies paused, then froze. Some panicked and others just closed the doors. If you have paused or froze, no one is judging you. It is scary times, and who could have planned for this level of economic shutdown.
For example, I heard that there are about 70% less people flying today than one year ago.
Unless you are in one of a few coveted industries, such as toilet paper, you probably have a downturn right now, too. Who could have imagined something so widespread and long-lasting as what we are seeing?
Still, some companies were positioned to regroup and restrategize. We invite you to think more strategically, in preparation for the next major event. These major events provide opportunities for those who have been thoughtful while providing significant risks for companies who have been lackadaisical.
If you want to invest in your people, your human capital, perhaps your biggest competitive advantage, now is a great time. Even if you are frozen, even if you are unsure of the future, there are things you can do to impact your workplace that could have a significant influence on how they think about you, as an employer.
There are things you can do, at little-to-no cost to become a rich company. This is about strategy and choice and intention.
Are you ready?
Give us a call. We’d love to talk about building a culture that lasts through tragedy.