Katy Langlais
Manager | CRHA, MBA | Human resources consulting

The current situation calls for great flexibility on the part of organizations and their leaders. The way you engage with your teams today will impact how your business will look in the future.

The surprise may have worn off, but it’s important to stay vigilant, prepare for various scenarios and make informed decisions as the situation evolves, making sure to take your workforce—the key to your company’s success—into account.

Human leadership in the face of uncertainty

In times of crisis, employees need to understand the situation and the decisions being made. The leader’s role is to put their ego aside to provide clarity, guidance and reassurance amid the chaos.

There is no “playbook” for leaders. They have to adjust to fluctuating dynamics and tailor their approach to each team and employee’s needs. This is what we call situational leadership.

Good leaders listen to employees and pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses, leveraging each individual’s skills to build a winning team. They know it’s not about them, but about the team, and about engaging each member in the pursuit of a common goal to drive collective action. This is known as transformational leadership.

It’s in tough times that leaders reveal themselves. They are quick to recover and able to make brave and ethical decisions. They humanize the workplace and become culture champions. This crisis is an opportunity to identify those leaders on your team.

There is no place for unempathetic and overly prescriptive leaders. Although employees need strong leadership to guide them through the storm, compassion and understanding are more important now than ever.

Supporting the management team

Not all good managers have extensive leadership experience. In such stressful times, there is a lot of pressure on managers, and some may feel anxious and lose confidence in their abilities. You can help by giving them the leeway they need while reaffirming your support.

Remind them that active communication requires them to be authentic and listen without judgment. Solutions need to come from the group, not a single individual. The best way to engage with your staff is to ask questions. By actively involving each employee, you will mobilize your teams and are more likely to find solutions you wouldn’t have thought of.

One of the methods used in continuous improvement is the “5 whys,” which consists in getting to the root of a problem by exploring underlying cause-and-effect relationships.

How to be a best-in-class employer

Great companies are values-driven and people-oriented. They don’t base decisions solely on short-term profitability. They understand that individuals are the essence of the organization. You need your workers, and if you don’t want them to join your competitors, you have to think about their well-being now.

As part of your post-crisis retention strategy, ask yourself how you can be a best-in-class employer. You should already start assessing the situation and considering what positive changes you can maintain when things go back to normal. Agree with your teams on positive practices that should be sustained and eliminate those that are no longer appropriate or conducive to employee productivity and well-being.

Take advantage of this period of change to encourage initiatives. An example might be to create virtual work groups to brainstorm ideas and refine them until they are ready for implementation.

Of course, as an employer, you should also start planning the company’s return to normal operations and implementing special hygiene and safety measures. If your company has a return-to-work policy, read through it and plan your reopening with your management team and the union if applicable. Review work organization and go over different possible scenarios, incorporating ideas raised during brainstorming workshops with your employees.

Your management of the current situation is an investment in the company’s future. Find ways for your company to stay attractive to employees. Good leaders know how to balance company goals and employee well-being. Being a great place to work means providing a great employee experience, even during periods of uncertainty.

03 Jun 2020  |  Written by :

Katy Langlais is a recruiting and human resources consulting at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.

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The Grant Thornton International IFRS team has published COVID-19 accounting considerations for CFOs: Impairment of intangible assets and goodwill.

The business and operations of many entities have already been seriously affected by the rapid global spread of COVID-19 and related government actions. Unfortunately, many businesses will continue to be affected for some time. This has consequences for their value and the value of many of their commercial assets.

In this volatile environment, any impairment of goodwill and other long-lived assets has the potential to materially reduce reported earnings.

While impairment losses provide only a lagging indicator of negative developments, this does not reduce the importance of ensuring that the reported values for goodwill and other intangibles reflect an appropriate value. This includes any impairment in value reflecting the economic impact of COVID 19.

This publication contains some issues for management to consider in assessing impairment together with some direction as to how best to respond to them.

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What does the economic future hold for us in Quebec and elsewhere in these turbulent times? An informed discussion on the emerging outlook.

In the first of the one-on-one discussion series organized by our firm, on May 21, 2020, President and CEO, Emilio B. Imbriglio, spoke with Martin Coiteux, Head of Economic Analysis and Global Strategy at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, about the economy and its future prospects. You can watch this interview online at any time, but here’s an overview.

A sudden crisis, a serious but temporary blow

Martin Coiteux began by emphasizing that the current crisis is not comparable to the one in 2008-2009, when Quebec was able to pull through with far less damage than other regions around the world. The current crisis is much more serious, although it cannot be compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s either.

“Our economy has been put into hibernation for public health reasons, resulting in a severe, albeit temporary, downturn because there will be a recovery.”

China as a point of reference

Globally, China was the first country affected by the virus and its economy resumed more quickly than elsewhere.

“It’s interesting to look at China, because you learn a lot about the nature of the recovery that lies ahead. Some sectors are recovering and others are lagging.[…] Production is recovering much faster than consumption in some sectors. Demand remains relatively depressed. Sectors are between 60% and 90% of normal activity,” Martin Coiteux stated.

Martin Coiteux added, “Generally, our economy declined less than in Europe and more than in the U.S.” The oil sector carries more weight in Canada than in the United States, which means, among other things, that our economy is more greatly affected. The impact of the crisis on the Canadian economy is somewhere between Europe and the U.S.

Sector outlook in Canada

Martin Coiteux discussed the impacts and durability of the COVID-19 effect on industries. According to his analysis, resilient firms are those that experience a small to moderate impact on employment, depending on the level of the effect, while industries that are more severely affected are equally divided into two categories related to the persistence of the setback.

Martin Coiteux explained in particular that the hardest-hit sectors are those whose activities depend the most on proximity to people (e.g. culture and recreation, accommodation and food services), while there is a lesser impact in sectors such as finance, public administration or professional services, where technology and distance are applied.

He stated that it also shows “the need to prioritize technological investments in the future. Even after the crisis is over, the trends will continue and become more pronounced. […]. This crisis, which is unlike any other, does not signal a disruption, but rather confirms trends, such as teleworking.” (For more information on the sectors Martin Coiteux discussed, view the interview video and go to the slide at 13 m., 31 s.)

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Assistance measures: massive support

Emilio B. Imbriglio asked Martin Coiteux about the governments’ unprecedented financial measures, in particular, the federal government, where assistance is already almost equal to the Caisse’s total assets of $300B.

When asked how Canadians will be able to repay this burden, Martin Coiteux stated that, under normal conditions, “no government would have chosen to create a $300B deficit this year”. Rather, it should be seen as an investment, because without such an effort, the economic recovery would have been delayed for years: the fate of the Quebec economy would have been business bankruptcies, high unemployment and depleted discretionary income.

“It’s an investment, it has to be repaid,” Martin Coiteux stated. “What will help us is that interest rates will remain low for a very long time. Sustained by interest rates below economic growth, the burden is still manageable.”

The Caisse’s role

Martin Coiteux went on to talk about the Caisse’s dual mandate: manage depositors’ returns and ensure Quebec’s economic growth. In this respect, the head economic analyst emphasized that “the Caisse is solidly established and works closely with portfolio companies to ensure that the best decisions are made to get through this difficult period. Even for organizations that are not in the portfolio, we have already announced a $4 billion envelope based on certain criteria, which also supports companies in their recovery. […]. For the post-COVID period, there are also priority investments for the Caisse and companies with projects. We were here before and during the crisis. We will also be here during and after the recovery.”

With respect to the stock market, Martin Coiteux argued that at the worst of the stock market meltdown in mid-March 2020, the situation appeared to be turning into a liquidity crisis. The markets were anticipating a credit crisis potentially greater than in 2008-2009. By intervening massively, the central banks and the U.S. Federal Reserve locked in, at least for the time being, the credit crisis that could have resulted.

What are the lessons learned?

In closing, Emilio B. Imbriglio asked Martin Coiteux to look 15 to 20 years into the future and see what lessons we have learned from this extraordinary experience.

“I am confident we can say we had the capacity to reinvent ourselves when necessary, that we accelerated the necessary investments, and that we fostered economic and social resilience,” Martin Coiteux stated.

View the entire economic discussion online (in French only).

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Denis Brisebois
Vice President | Tourism-Leisure-Culture | Management consulting

As the lockdown is gradually being lifted, businesses and organizations in the tourism, leisure and culture sector are entering the critical yet complex period of economic recovery. Do you have all the keys in hand to get through this turbulent period?

To cope with this new reality and weather the ups and downs, organizations must review their activities and processes in an effort to implement the best solutions.

The sector can get a new boost even if it’s likely to experience a great deal of uncertainties in the coming months. Some businesses will be more affected than others but those that can adapt will come out stronger and better equipped. It’s an opportunity to get back up on the right foot and ensure a sustainable future.

Seizing opportunities to restart your business or limit losses

Well before this crisis, organizations were already dealing with a number of issues, including demographic changes, the influence of technology and an increased focus on a healthy environment for clients.

The pandemic is forcing the sector to speed up its transformation. Certain trends, such as teleworking and buying local, have become vital. Businesses must transform and adapt, taking into account these emerging needs.

They must also endure new constraints due to the context and fluctuations brought about by the virus. Clients’ habits have changed and how they will behave post-crisis is still unclear.

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Assessing your business’ position and implementing effective solutions quicker

An in-depth analysis of your business’ environment and position will help you make more informed decisions. You have several options:

  • Go for it: Seize this opportunity to increase your activities and boost growth;
  • Hibernate: Keep your expenses as low as possible and delay reopening;
  • Focus on what’s essential: Reduce your activities to a minimum and focus on what you do best until the economy recovers;
  • Diversify: Seize this opportunity to develop a new offer and solicit another clientele;
  • Merge: Team up with a partner or business with a complementary service offer and limit costs;
  • Close or sell: This may be the best solution while you can still get back the maximum value for your business given the context;
  • Make an acquisition: This could be an opportunity to invest in a field or business to which you can contribute added value;
  • Transform and reinvent yourself: You may realize that you have everything you need to innovate and modernize your organization.

If you want to take action but don’t know where to start, our team of experts can help you avoid some unpleasant surprises.

We’ve put together more than 20 support programs and others will be announced in the days and weeks to come for various industries. It can be daunting to navigate through so many different offers and programs. So, let our experts help you optimize your organization’s capacity to get financing.

If you want to secure a future for your business, you must not only persevere but also demonstrate agility and creativity. It won’t be easy but there’s hope for new beginnings.

28 May 2020  |  Written by :

Denis Brisebois is a management consulting expert and leader in tourism, leisure and culture....

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