Op-Ed: What I told the Ghana Employers Association | Features

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I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Ghana Employers’ Association on Thursday, September 15, 2022. It was a well-attended session, with representatives from all institutions in Ghana (both public and private). ), Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, Ingrid Mollestad and Deputy Minister of Employment, Hon. Brilliant Wereko Brobbey.

The event revolved around the theme of business sustainability in the face of macroeconomic challenges. It was a theme that I found prescient, given the state of most global economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and other concurrent economic challenges over the past two years.

Here are the key points of my message:

Today, across the world, the business landscape has changed. The pandemic has turned history upside down and reminded business leaders to grow sustainably. A PwC Pulse Survey of Executive views on business found that nearly 70% of business leaders globally believe COVID-19 will go from pandemic to endemic in 2022 with complex challenges ahead. Another recent survey conducted by the Africa Business Panel on the business environment in Africa made some interesting observations:

· About two-thirds of businesses said they were in trouble but would survive.
· Of all the professionals from every country in Africa, South African companies seemed the least optimistic.
· However, in Ghana, there was sunny optimism. Only 3% of Ghanaian participants feared that the company they worked for would collapse; who demonstrated the great resilience, faith and adaptability of the Ghanaian employee.

However, the question remains: how do we sustain our business amidst macroeconomic challenges?

Solutions:

Adversity is not new to us employers. However, there is a huge difference between running and maintaining a business during an economic downturn. Let me start by saying: I don’t have all the answers. But after successfully leading and arguably the biggest transformation of a brand and business ownership in the country, and then leading a business through the pandemic — and seeing so many of my clients do the same — I I have some ideas on what we can do to weather this storm.

It all starts with leadership:

As businesses navigate this temporary glitch:
· Don’t be the “ostrich” – preserving the status quo and just hoping for the best
Nor “the bull in the China store” – who blindly cut spending across the board
Be “the fox” instead – use the recession to make your business more efficient so that when the operating environment improves, you’ll be in an even better position to grow sustainably by taking advantage of emerging trends and news opportunities.

As leaders in these difficult times, let us assume the best intentions and support our employees as humans. Be patient and have a listening ear and be prepared to do the job. Leading from the front lines is one of the best ways to show your team that the work they do matters. Get involved in the workshop, not only with the marketing and sales teams, but also with operations and other support functions. Act with integrity, spend time doing the right things, and do things right. Your legacy goes beyond a time of crisis.

Create a business continuity plan

If the pandemic or economic challenges haven’t taught us anything at all, at least we now know enough to keep tabs on our business continuity plans. A well-thought-out business continuity plan will help manage a crisis. It will also allow you to minimize disruption to your business and customers. It’s a way to prove to customers, investors, and all stakeholders that your business is robust enough to deal with unforeseen circumstances or anything that might arise unforeseen.

Prioritize your customers

Focus on creating something that really adds value to your customers. Determine their challenges, get closer to them, and take even better care of them. This improves your chances of retaining existing customers and retaining them. The key here is to provide excellent customer service or after-sales service. You can also satisfy them by organizing customer loyalty or incentive programs. Satisfied customers can also help you diversify your business through referrals – introducing new customers or helping you recognize new opportunities that could help you diversify into new markets or products and services.

Support your colleagues/employees

As employers, we need to build morale and motivation by communicating clearly with our staff about what is happening in the operating environment and its impact on our business. It is important to pay attention to the language used. Language is the vehicle for thought processing and how we relate to our employees will make the difference between creating unnecessary panic or reassuring.

Some organizations may need to reduce staff or working hours. for example, you could ask some of your full-time employees to work part-time for a certain period of time. You may need to modify or even freeze your hiring plans during an economic downturn, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop growing. If you have to lay off staff to save money, make sure you understand your contractual obligations in the event of termination.

You should also perform a skills assessment, identify the gaps needed to fit them in the future, and train/retrain your employees to prepare them for the journey ahead. Remember, you still need operational excellence in downturns, so build the “team” and not just the A* players. The best result lies in collective wisdom.

Sharpen your ways of working

Reduce bureaucracy or red tape. When things are going well, employers may not notice inefficiencies. I’ve seen how difficult it can be to stay slim as you grow older. Processes can get bloated, policies can get convoluted, and you might end up talking about work more than getting the job done in a season like this. Encourage your team to be doers, not just listeners. Next, companies must learn to be nimble and nimble in these challenging times. Learn how to modify your strategy and make it more inclusive of technology. Innovation would help you adapt to changing market conditions and stay ahead of your competitors. As part of this process, you need to determine whether using technology will increase efficiency, reduce costs, and make your business more competitive. Automation can help fill the gaps. Automation can also free up your existing team to deal with customers. I came across a company’s values ​​that said, “Don’t be a robot, build the robot.”

Collaboration

In times of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to support your partners and rely on them to support you as well. Internally, the different departments of your organization should not operate in silos. Using an external lens, networking can be helpful in understanding how other businesses are coping and reducing your risk. Consider forming alliances with other businesses, for example by offering complementary services.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, adversity is nothing new for employers and leaders. It could have been the 2020 pandemic or today’s macroeconomic instability. The future may present other challenges. We need to continually plan, learn how to put the right risk measures and continuity programs in place, and get in the habit of meeting regularly to discuss and monitor plan readiness. Usual planning and anticipation and adequate mitigation measures will put us in a good position to deal with the unexpected should it arise.

Dear business leaders, I’ll end with a paraphrased statement from the American Sailing website: yelling and throwing tantrums. Nevertheless, beyond being calm under duress, the best employers are usually calm in general. It’s a provision that serves almost any catastrophic situation and excellent business leaders know it. Being calm means having a clear mind, and clarity is a huge plus for running a business through tough times. As employers, our role is to soak up the heat and convey clarity to our employees. Calm can then be harnessed in powerful tools:

Wrap:

It starts with leadership
· Create a business continuity plan
Prioritize your customers
Support your colleagues/employees/staff
· Sharpen your working methods
And collaborate [internally & externally]establish partnerships and network.

Remember! Don’t be the ostrich, or “the bull in the china shop”. Instead, be “the fox”: use the recession to make your business more efficient. So when the operating environment improves, you’ll be in an even better position to grow sustainably.

The author is the Managing Director of Absa Bank Ghana Limited

Source: Abena Osei-Poku, Managing Director, Absa Bank Ghana

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com assumes no legal or other responsibility for the accuracy of their content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it first.

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