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Serving Stakeholders A Top Priority Now

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Serving Stakeholders A Top Priority Now
Himali Patel - 22 July 2020

Stakeholders are extremely important and maintaining a balanced approach to boost their confidence will help firms bounce back from the crisis.

Arvind Gupta, Partner and Head – Management Consulting, KPMG in India explains how firms need to establish the new normal and communicate this approach to their stakeholders, during an interview with Himali Patel.

 

The pandemic has caused a serious business slowdown. How are the corporates trying to reassure stakeholders (investors, creditors, employees) during decision-making?

The aftermath of COVID-19 outbreak is going to reverberate through the economy for a long time, pushing us to transform and innovate the way we operate. We are seeing firms establishing incident management teams, redoing business continuity plans and charting stakeholder communication strategically to deal with all unseen and unexpected challenges.

Organisations are attempting to respond on multiple fronts simultaneously. They are looking at safeguarding their workforce by promoting employee benefits like remote working, increased health cover and developing employee risk mitigation strategies. While doing so, they are also looking at opportunities to preserve cash for operational continuity, re-thinking how they can manage their regular activities and identify opportunities for realigning expenses in this dynamic environment.

Companies are re-analysing their strengths so that they can make a positive impact on shareholders. We are re-doing our offerings to better match the market needs, making our stakeholders hopeful and confident.

Firms are sharing execution plans with stakeholders for inputs, fostering collective decision and sense of belonging.

Why do you think stakeholders matter now more than ever?

Many large organisations have stepped up efforts to provide more social benefits, they are extending sick leaves to employees, longer credit period to its vendors and forgoing downsizing.

With such uncertainty, businesses know that if they take care of their stakeholders in their decision-making, they are likely be more resilient over the time. 

What do stakeholders go through when their views are not considered?

All stakeholders expect their needs to be taken into account as companies strategize to meet new challenges. By not meeting these basic expectations, companies would see fear, confusion and anxiety across the value chain. These may include investors who doubt the financial viability of their investment, or employees who may be facing job and financial insecurity, or the creditors who may doubt the company’s worthiness. This will have a ripple effect negativity affecting both the brand and reputation. At present, the hospitality and the airline companies are trying to ensure safety of customers by maintaining high hygiene standards and make both customers and employees feel comfortable about being associated with them.

Which principles would contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous future for the stakeholders?

Firms need to establish the new normal and accordingly change the way they operate and communicate with stakeholders to give them confidence.

1. Companies with a robust business continuity plan and well-laid policies to deal with emergencies are better placed to cope with downturns.

2. Openness in sharing the financial situation of the organisation would foster security amongst employees, creditors, partners and investors.

3. Businesses to need find means to help employees deal with increased levels of anxiety and monotonous work-life through innovative ways of engagement, active listening, and providing opportunity to upskill and reskill.

4. They also need to recognise and weed out short-term crisis that may victimise employees or investors, by using innovative methods for stability.

 

himali@outlookindia.com

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