Anyone who has persevered through the events of 2020 knows it’s been a rough first half of the year. A global pandemic, nationwide protests, and massive economic fallout are a lot to digest in such a short period.
We’re still reeling. But as with any disaster, many businesses will find some silver linings, even among the darkest clouds. The key is to look the challenges in the eye and expand our ways of thinking.
Make no mistake: A company’s response during a crisis — toward its customers, employees, investors, and the greater good — can define its reputation for decades, for better or worse. Actions you take now can have a significant impact in the long term.
1. Offer local support
To support your community, you don’t need to set up a million-dollar relief fund or send volunteers around the globe. You just need to respond thoughtfully and compassionately, with an eye toward your place in the ecosystem.
- Provide some essentials. Create an initiative for your business to organize a food bank collection effort or similar food distribution event.
- Help with the cleanup. In the wake of any disaster that causes property damage, offer to rent dumpsters to help those affected clear out debris from small businesses or homes. Send volunteers to help if you can.
- Promote other local businesses, especially those smaller than yours that might lack the means to run a large marketing campaign. If you’re a small business yourself, partner with other local businesses to strengthen everyone’s marketing power.
- Host an event for charity. Organize an event to raise money and awareness for a charity. Sponsor a contest; hold a sporting event or art exhibit; or launch another event.
- Sponsor a youth sports team to help provide the funds it needs to operate. Many youth organizations are run by volunteers and rely on parent contributions or donations.
When planning your initiative, look for areas where your community has the greatest need, and choose those your company can feasibly support. You don’t want to get in over your head, because that could result in serious disappointment for those you wish to help (not to mention bad publicity). Only offer what you reasonably can do.
2. Demonstrate civic responsibility
In light of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to strive for the greater good. Many people are suffering from illness or losing jobs or businesses because of the health crisis. With the understanding that our every action affects others, we can work to safeguard one another’s safety and well-being.
- Offer support as a company to local, regional, national, or global relief efforts, either with financial contributions or by donating time and effort.
- Shift your supply-chain choices to small businesses that are struggling right now.
- Support your employees however possible. Beyond your basic health and safety responsibilities, consider what extra allowances, flexibility, and relief measures you can offer them. (In return, they’ll likely reward you with loyalty and strong performances after the pandemic passes).
As you’re waiting for the country to fully reopen, stay apprised of new regulations and ways you’ll need to comply. Social distancing and related measures for mitigating viral spread will be the new normal.
- Set guidelines and amend floorplans in your workplace and any retail or public spaces to reinforce social distancing.
- Install plexiglass barriers and physical distancing features where needed.
- Provide employees with personal protective equipment, making sure you have enough masks, gloves, disinfectants, and any other PPE they need.
- Stock enough hand sanitizer to offer to employees, vendors, customers, and any other guests in your facilities.
3. Remember: Small changes can make big environmental differences
Not every company is mindful of its environmental impact. But it’s important to operate with the good of the Earth in mind if we want to slow the growing threat of environmental disaster. Every initiative — no matter how small — can make a difference.
- Introduce the idea of reducing your company’s toxic load. Consider solar energy (even on a small or partial scale). Replace facility lighting with energy-efficient LEDs. And take steps to eliminate harmful types of plastics from your production system.
- Bolster recycling and reuse efforts so your business can make fewer contributions to landfills.
- Offer a transportation benefit for non-remote employees, or implement a shuttle service, if feasible, to limit the transmission risk inherent in taking public transportation.
- Purchase stick shift vehicles for your fleet. They’re cheaper to insure and often last longer than automatics. Plus, this choice keeps cars and trucks out of landfills.
Every company needs to reckon with its waste record and carbon footprint (even during a pandemic). You won’t change the world with a single action, but if you steadily transition to “greener” practices, consumers will see that you care about the Earth and the people living on it.
The current crises present opportunities for us to incorporate more civic-minded, equitable, and green concepts into our business plans. With the initiatives you can launch, you’d be helping society and strengthening your brand at the same time.