Business Transformation

How to pivot your business in a crisis

paper plane

Businesses are on red alert in 2023. Following a tricky few years, everyone is just waiting for the next big crisis. If it’s not another global pandemic, it might be a recession, strict new industry-wide rules or a PR scandal that causes huge reputational damage. Dealing with unexpected crises is never fun for businesses - but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your employees.

Having the right learning and communications strategy in place is crucial for the smooth running of any business, but especially when you hit turbulent times. It will help you keep your people in the loop as the situation progresses, and will also equip employees with the skills and information they need to adapt as things change. So what does that look like?


Take the limits off learning


If your employees are used to taking a single compliance elearning course once a year, they might initially be resistant to the idea of engaging in learning more frequently. Despite what L&D teams may want to believe, training isn’t a high priority for the vast majority of employees. And that’s OK! It just means that we have to get smarter about the way we make learning available to give our people everything they need to keep up when things are changing quickly.

Building a continuous learning culture means embedding learning into the flow of employees’ day-to-day work. Instead of formal, scheduled learning time that takes people away from their work, think about creating a bank of structured, easily accessible resources which can be accessed whenever and wherever they’re needed. To go one step further, this could also mean ‘pushing’ useful performance support content to employees at the point of need, such as providing a how-to video just before someone tackles a new task for the first time.

Rolling out a continuous learning culture right now will ensure that your people become used to this ‘little-and-often’ learning model, which will set you up for success when the next crisis inevitably pops up. For instance, in March 2020, guidance was changing daily in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies with a continuous learning culture were able to adapt faster than those with a more regimented approach to learning, as it meant people could engage in quick bursts of learning, then adapt their behaviour on the same day.


At the start of the pandemic, 5app customer Hemsley Fraser had to switch from 95% face-to-face delivery to 95% virtual delivery overnight, meaning that not only did employees need to adapt to working remotely themselves, but they also needed to learn how to deliver services to customers online. Having a continuous learning culture in place, underpinned by the 5app learning and communications platform, meant that business leaders could share new information in real time. Even now the world has reopened, Hemsley Fraser has kept much of its offering online, fully cementing its digital transformation.

In the words of Hemsley Fraser’s CEO Lynsey Whitmarsh:

“Our business, which was 95% face to face, changed overnight and we had to quickly pivot to a digital online business. And that's not only having to change what we do, rethinking all the kinds of processes and services we offer to clients and making sure we can deliver.”



Communication is a two-way street

are you talking to me

Sending an email blast to share more about the evolving situation is a common approach to internal comms in a crisis, but it’s rarely the most effective way to keep everyone informed. Also… who really wants to receive MORE email?!

Naturally, in times of crisis, people will have questions, but asking everyone to respond individually to an email (or, worse, to reply-all) isn’t efficient. You will constantly be responding to the same questions over and over again, and who really wants to be doing that?

The best approach is to post all important company updates in a centralised location where everyone can see them, and they won’t get lost in busy inboxes. Sending notifications when new updates go live will help keep everyone informed in real time, and opening up comments or reactions ensures that employees can ask questions, ask for clarification or respond to important information.

One way to ensure the right tone is conveyed is to switch from text-only updates to enabling quick video updates. For example, the CEO could use their webcam or phone to record themselves delivering a two-minute update, which is then uploaded to the main platform. Don’t worry about making it polished or professional - the key here is to get the message across quickly and accurately.


Enabling flexible decision making



All businesses operate differently, but in times of crisis, employees depend on the leadership team for direction, guidance and reassurance. Employees also appreciate transparency and feeling like their concerns are being taken into account when important decisions are being made at speed.

For global teams in particular, it may be tricky for business leaders to find the time to sync up - especially when things are moving quickly. Having a private, online community for business leaders to share ideas and solve challenges asynchronously is a good way to keep conversations progressing so leaders can take advantage of agile decision making, no matter where your people are.

There are also times when leaders may want the input of employees for the sake of their wellbeing and happiness. For instance, many businesses conducted surveys throughout the pandemic to gauge interest in returning to the office or continuing to work remotely. Facilitating these discussions online ensures that everyone can have their say, and all employees can get involved in the discussion.

Collecting feedback via a single platform means that leaders can gather opinions and act quickly, rather than making an unpopular decision, having to backtrack and go back to the drawing board, which also means that employees lose trust in their decision-making skills. By soliciting feedback and opinions upfront, businesses can enjoy transparent decision-making processes, listen to everyone’s concerns and come to a measured conclusion much faster. By involving employees in important decisions, leaders can address any issues before a decision is finalised and ensure people feel engaged and valued.


Embedding resilience into your company’s DNA

Pivoting in a crisis is never going to be any business’ favourite activity, but it doesn’t need to be as stressful as you may initially imagine. With the right learning and comms strategy underpinning everything, your leaders and employees will have access to everything they need to thrive, whether that’s an up-to-date timeline, a checklist for a brand-new process or a short video update from the CEO.

By encouraging a continuous learning culture (and consistently reviewing and updating content), enabling quick, easy company updates and facilitating agile decision making, you’re building resilience and adaptability into your company’s DNA, setting you up for long-term success.

Ready to prepare your business for whatever comes next? Great! Book your demo today to see why 5app is the simple solution for companies looking to adapt quickly, no matter what happens.


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