There’s a truth to the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. The pandemic period has truly tested everyone’s ability to survive, be it on a personal level or in business. This post-pandemic era, every business is finding its way to cope with the new environment that they are in. But more than just adapting, businesses must learn how to develop and build resiliency in their organization to combat current and future crises.
This is one of the convictions of our director, Dr. Irineo Alvaro, when he shared his insights and real-life industry experience on a live webcast with Clark HR Council.
Here are the key takeaways from the episode.
What do you think about businesses in post-pandemic period?
“The post-pandemic period resulted not only in losses, but also additional expenses or costs in operations. Especially in the hospitality sector, the new normal demands sudden expenses on transportation and lodging, and other safety protocols. Safe dispensing on shuttle buses and lodging quarters has to be addressed. Fully enclosed counters have to be established among other safety requirements such as scanners, facemasks, vitamins etc. These were not part of our expenses before, but now everything has to be part of the new safety protocol.
Trainings for the emergency teams and company nurses have to be revised. We have to hire additional nurses and revise protocols just to ascertain a crisis resilient facility. Health insurance and safety policies in workplaces and labor committees have to be upgraded too. Vast and immediate measures have to be in place, the sooner, the better.
On the recovery side, our sector, tourism, is one of the most devastated sectors. Recovery may be slow; it may take 3-5 years. But what is important now is that we are on the path of recovery. What matters now is that we are recovering, and we will survive. I am confident we will get there soon, no matter how slow it is. What is important is that we are all now on the path of recovery.”
How did the pandemic influence your business based on your experience?
“There are several lessons we learned that somehow changed our perspective on things. On a general scale, all of us must revisit and reappreciate the meaning of profitability during crisis. For instance, we must primarily set aside our prime motivations for revenues and profit when we define “profit”.
The virus has crashed the global economy to levels never experienced in recent history of the Philippines. Before, we measure profit by how much we have accumulated or money excess. The crisis has taught us a new definition of profit. For example, a minimal retrenchment is considered a profit. To ensure that our employees have the means to feed their families, you feel good, and consider it as a profit.
Another redefinition of profit in our case was the ability to exist. We were taught to compute profit now not only in terms of money accumulated, but more of that humanitarian factor. The pandemic somehow transformed business people in our sector to be much more humanely considerate. During the pandemic, we saw a lot of businesses generously helping or contributing to one another despite their situation. “Yung mabuhay ka at magbigay buhay, considered tubo na yun.” – To live and to help others live is considered a profit.”
WHAT INSPIREd YOU TO CREATE THE LARGEST WATER PARK IN THE PHILIPPINES?
“The original plan was to create a golf course. But I was able to convince my partners to build something different. That’s why we came up with the concept of Aqua Planet Water Park to provide some amenities that will supplement the existing ones and secondly to build something that will give a reason for people to stay longer in Clark.“
How did you use the pandemic as an opportunity while attempting to keep your head above water?
“I explored a lot of endeavors to keep myself focused on what we can do, even on a small scale. One good lesson that the pandemic taught most businessmen, is to be satisfied with smaller earnings just to survive. The art of being patient and hopeful was developed.
In our case for instance, we accepted the lock-in tapings. We explored the film industry. My other colleagues enrolled in their facilities as Covid-19 facility for Overseas Filipino Workers. In our farm, Fiona’s Farm, I utilized the pandemic to infuse modern agricultural technique for our mangoes.
Bottomline is you are doing something. Your journey to survival is there.”
What variables should a company monitor or research to ensure that it can quickly recover from a crisis?
“Before, the variables that we tend to measure are growth and earnings at a certain period of time. The new variable now is how can you be crisis resilient in any given situation. This should be part of any planning activity.
Another variable is Positive Organizational Behavior. According to Prof. Robert Queen, “you have to create a place where people are flourishing as they work, and as a result they are to exceed performance expectations.” This is timely during this time to create a positive organizational behavior so that people will do more, because you are racing to recover your business.
When you talk of positive organizational behavior, it hinges on two things, one is you have to consider mental health strength of your organization – when we talk of mental health strength we are talking about healthy emotional, psychological and social well-being. These influence the way employees think, behave and even feel, which is very important in a crisis situation.
The other thing is human resource strength, it includes managing and developing, improving performance in the workplace. Recovery phase is being able to use all the ingredients small or big towards the achievement of your goal.
Another variable is a viable tie up with government institutions and government announcements. Networking. When we talk of pandemic, we learned that it cannot be solved by one but through collaboration and cooperation with the government.“
HOW CAN BUSINESSES ENSURE THAT THEIR COMPANIES ARE INNOVATION-DRIVEN? AND WHY SHOULD THEY ALWAYS PLAN FOR GROWTH IDEAS TO BE ON THEIR AGENDA IN THE NEXT YEARS?
“When we talk of innovation-driven, it could be of several things. I always tell my students, “If you cannot be at par or you cannot beat your competitors, be at least the first.” Innovation can be in many forms. Sometimes, you need not spend a lot to come up with bright ideas to ensure your growth. The crisis will teach you to adjust.
Do not cry over spilled milk, just drink water. We have no choice but to move forward and join the path to recovery. In circumstances when you cannot have the better or the best, live with the worst. It’s the only choice, but be resourceful. Being resourceful is one of the biggest components of being resilient in combatting crisis.”
Why do you believe that agility is one of the secrets of organizational success?
“When you define agility in simple terms, it is the ability to operate and compete in a continuous and dynamic change context. In public administration, we term it “living in a turbulent situation”. Most successes are anchored to the organizations’ ability to move swiftly and easily. We agile. Striking while the iron is hot holds truth in it.
You have to act, think and decide quickly, especially in a crisis, in order not to be left behind. These are the keys to unlocking your path to success.”
When is it necessary to take risks and when is it not?
“I don’t think there is an exact science when to and when not to. If you believe that it is hopeless despite your efforts then you stop. But on a general scale, engaging in a business these days is an everyday risk. Especially after this pandemic, for small and medium enterprises. That is why the antidote is your readiness to face challenges every single day of encounter. No business is risk free. That’s the rule. Think of it that way so that you will always be on guard.
The answer is always to have a ready safety net with you in anything that you plan, in anything that you wish to accomplish.
Secondly, since crisis strikes mostly on the least expected time, therefore, it is always necessary that it is not only the higher management that must understand well the focus and the clear direction of the company. Nowadays, it has to be made clear from the janitor to middle management to higher ups, – the real direction and thrust of the company – so that all efforts must be geared towards that. That may somehow minimize the risk when all the players of the organization understand the direction of the company.”
How can you now inspire new business attitudes and habits to help businesses recover?
“Hardwork plus hardwork on what you do equals luck. If you have to be lucky, put a lot of hard work into it. Hard work is one of the important ingredients to the path of success. The other one is patience. There is no shortcut to success. What is important is you have a clear direction.
It is not bad to want to grow fast, but the chances of success may be lean compared to doing it right with proper timing associated with being patient. Finally, all things change, not only structures but even human behaviors. It is never a solution to stop or lose your track. Stopping or losing your track in a crisis is a no-no. After a crisis, there is no other choice for an organization but to move forward.
Moving forward you have to carry the following:
- Enhanced aggressiveness and agility
- The consequence of the crisis called for an active mode
- Flexibility to adopt and adapt
Own it, accept it, going against it is never a solution. Adjust to it with renewed vigour. Embrace it so that you can continue your journey towards recovery.
Lastly, the best investment today is genuine service.”