Here at ZRG Partners, we have been tracking the many ways organizations are responding to the coronavirus crisis. We’re seeing everything from the widespread embrace of remote work to innovative rotations on the shop floor to commitments by firms to continue paying idled employees. To help managers respond to today’s challenges, we have created this page to share information that is simply good to know about not only what companies are doing today but what companies that succeeded during previous downturns have done in the past.
NOTABLE COMPANY RESPONSES TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The coronavirus pandemic is pressuring businesses of all sizes. Here we note some of the positive actions that are being taken to help employees and communities mitigate the challenges we are all facing. We will continue to update this page with the latest announcements and examples.
Keeping Connected: Inspiration from ZRG's Brazil Virtual Happy
Maintaining team cohesiveness during this period of widespread social distancing is a challenge facing organizations world-wide. ZRG’s Brazil team recently gave their video-conferencing software a workout, hosting a virtual happy hour that provided a "positive and super cool" opportunity to share personal experiences and simply have a good time together.
From the blog of ZRG's Ken Lubin
ZRG's Ken Lubin has been offering up some quick read advice and inspiring words through his personal blog, the Ultimate Hire. We've shared a few relatable posts in this section.
Navigating a Downturn
The spread of COVID-19 and the uncertainty it has bred globally threaten to usher the world economy into a pronounced downturn. While this challenge is undoubtedly unique, we can learn from the way businesses responded to the recessions of 1980, 1990-1991, and 2000 as well as the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Below, we highlight some of the best commentary from the past decade regarding how to navigate a downturn and gain speed quickly when conditions become more favorable.
How to Survive A Recession and Thrive Afterward
Key Points: An analysis of the recessions of 1980, 1990, and 2000 shows that 9% of US-based public companies managed to emerge better positioned than ever, outcompeting their direct competitors by >10% in terms of sales and profits growth in the three-year period following the recession. Four factors unified this group: they reduced leverage before the downturn; focused on (local) decision-making; looked beyond layoffs to operational efficiencies; and invested in technology to improve analytics and reduce costs.
Roaring Out of Recession
Key Points: Workforce reduction as a primary cost-cutting strategy dramatically decreases the odds of a firm achieving exceptional performance vis-à-vis peers following the downturn. While “progressive” companies that will become the next period’s winners do lay off employees, they tend to do so far less often (23% of the time compared with 56% of the time for companies focused on minimizing downside risks) while parting with “far fewer people” when they do so.
Stronger for Longer: How Top Performers Thrive Through Downturns
Key Points: Resilient firms focus on operational and financial flexibility in tandem. Leaders at these companies realize that “cash is king” and shore up the balance sheet through divestitures and other steps to position for acceleration out of the downturn. Management also needs to focus on aligning the top team on objectives, sharpening digital programs, and engaging in “through-cycle interventions” that can improve revenue performance and wring out operational costs. Throughout all of this, flexibility is the watchword.
Beyond the Downturn: Recession Strategies to Take the Lead
Key Points: The losers of the downturn in 2008-2009 share several strategic missteps. They engaged in extreme cost-cutting, which included reducing R&D investments, pulling back on sales and marketing, and failing to retain top talent. Further, the laggards typically shied away from M&A, but when they did so, they reached outside their core businesses into hot sectors. The winners, in contrast, pursued early cost restructuring, focused on improving the strength of their balance sheets, and aggressively pursued growth. They then used these three efforts to support “proactive” M&A strategies to help them achieve or extend industry leadership positions during the recovery.