Navigating financial turmoil with care
It’s the age-old precept of business…when times are tough financially and the income is reducing then cuts need to be made to ensure survival. Cuts to costs and cuts in employee numbers. Recession and financial meltdown are, of course, compelling reasons for businesses and organisations to take stock, re-evaluate and consider what is right for now and the future.
As we have seen in the recent business news, there are many ways to do this. British Airways for example choosing the, on the face of it, more heartless and nuclear option of staff cost reduction – fire and rehire at lower salary. American Airlines is putting its customer service staff in the UK on longer term furlough at 40% salary from November until June 2021 and encouraging them to find new roles as it anticipates the need for staff cuts. Back in the massive downturn in the 1990’s Southwest Airlines retained all its staff and they shared whatever work was available between them and adjusted their salary to match the hours they worked. Once things recovered in their new form, Southwest was one of the first to be able to shift gear operationally.
Underneath the many challenges, choices and ways forward in financial turmoil sit the core values that inform the way the business thinks and behaves. Not the nice words that are put on the wall or included in training programmes, but the true expression of the heart and soul of the organisation. It becomes possible to see, through the attitudes expressed and actions taken just what sits at the core. For sure there are complicating factors that influence behaviours – BA for example might cite the lack of cooperation by the Trades Unions in helping to find a suitable and sensible way forward in the light of the all-but decimation of the airline industry.
And yet…if we look deeply within and truly examine the qualities on which a business is founded, we can see a core principle of cause and effect. If for example, caring and heartfulness it at the core then we might expect to see behaviours that are more inclusive, that build a culture and way of being where employees are seen to be part of finding the solution not just part of the cost problem. That’s not to say that cuts in jobs or changes in reward packages might not need to happen, but if the challenges are being addressed from the perspective of ‘we’ amongst all stakeholders within an organisation then new, different solutions may come forward. Equally importantly, the eventual tough choices that need to be made will be more likely to be respected and embraced.
For sure our world is changing dramatically in many ways at this time and yet the real change that’s being called for is to connect with each other from the place of the heart. If we find our way to truly caring about each other, the planet and all living things then we will open up new conversations about the solutions needed to create the world that respects and supports all life.