Anywhere in the world, unhealthy people are not productive. That is why one of the measures of economic well-being is adequate and functional healthcare for people. But beyond a functional health care, Coronavirus (Covid-19) has dealt a devastating blow on nations around the world. Because of the novelty of the disease and lack of any adequate cure for it, Global economy has been projected to contract sharply by 3.2% this year according to the United Nations World Economic Situations and Prospects (WESP). The report also stated that all gains recorded in the previous four years would be wiped off over the next two years and this would culminate in the loss of nearly $8.5 trillion. Compared to other great depressions, Covid-19 will cause the greatest depression recorded since 1930.
What measures did companies take?
Many measures were taken by private companies so that the curve is flattened. Some of them include social distancing and working from home if need be. As lovely as the measures sounded, they have led to a loss in aggregate demand and the loss of thousands of Jobs. Some companies occupy a strategic position in the world economy. They are responsible for the provision of basic needs. And so, even though there has been a fall in aggregate demand globally, concepts were devised to make sure that they kept running. The concepts were quite conflicting because it entails keeping workers safe, while also providing goods and services. These companies had to put in place measures to protect their employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Adoption of work-from-home for jobs that can be done remotely has helped companies to keep their employees safe. Jobs like human resource management, sales, marketing, perfectly fit into remote work. To ensure easy dissemination and communication, large departments for some companies became decentralized and broke into smaller groups so that if it was expedient to come to work, specific days are assigned and workspace and surroundings are regularly disinfected. Receptionists in companies are not exempted from the work-from-home order as they can answer calls remotely and transfer any message to working employees through the virtual reception desk. Some companies have outsourced some non-core operating and corporate functions to contractors so that operating costs are reduced, maintenance capital is eliminated and staff is kept safe. Some companies have explored the proactive deployment of automation technologies such as industrial internet of things, collaborative robotics to replace workers in areas that are highly vulnerable to Covid-19. This will, apart from keeping workers safe, also allow productivity to continue unimpeded.
Installations of hands-free door openers within the company buildings have made sure some of the most germ-infested hide-outs are eliminated. Splitting of building into zones has limited broad interactions with staff as only staff within the same zones is highly likely to contract the virus. Also, the introduction of a work bench to an employee is another measure to protect employees. Employees are not permitted to sit on someone else seat. And companies have made it mandatory to regularly disinfect spaces during shifts, after work shifts. Caution tape put on handrails in company buildings have made employees aware of the need to avoid touching handrails.
For employees in manufacturing or supply chain management who need to always come to work so that demand, supply and quality are met, the compulsory obedience to social and physical distancing rules upheld by companies during an unavoidable situation of close interaction with staff. Face shields and other additional protective devices are provided to employees. On the lighter note, employees are kept abreast of the fact that they need to cough into their elbow.
Governments ask for them?
One of the strategic functions of government is the protection of lives and properties. Governments all round the world have worked in alliance with the companies. They have requested most companies, especially those that are in the manufacturing to help in the manufacture of some equipment like Ventilators and other personal protective equipment to help treat Covid-19. Governments are also aware of the restrictions placed on exports and imports for some companies who either need to sell their products or purchase raw materials, and as a result, they have given special rights to some companies to help their supply chain and keep production unhindered. Through executive orders, finance, bail-outs and other unconventional policies targeted towards companies, it may have helped companies to cushion the effect of Covid-19 on their economy.
As pertaining to loss of jobs for some employees, governments have risen to the occasion of providing stimulus packages for them and others greatly affected by Covid-19. Manufacturing companies have sought the help of governments on issues that relate to production, supply and purchase of oil globally so that high prices do not additionally impact on the cost of goods and services. Companies have entered into a new era of closer public-private coordination and partnership with governments so that the right balance can be struck between production of critical products and protection of public health.
What are the risks for them not to take them?
Companies are poised to face problems like decreased consumer confidence in their product and services if measures are not kept safeguarding employees. Even employees are not incentivized to be optimally productive in their work if they know that their welfare is not guaranteed. Supply chain will be greatly distorted causing financial loss for the company and economic loss for the nation. Because economy depends on the inflow and outflow of goods and services, any measure not put in place to take care of employees will result in loss of revenue for government and companies as employees, on seeing that their safety regarding Covid-19 is not assured, will opt to technically resign from their job.
Companies may become bankrupt as their balance sheets are wiped off due to lack of production which can be caused by the effect of not observing protective measures against Covid-19. This may triple as some companies may default in their loan payment, increasing the percentage of non-performing loans. Because of the volatility of the market in which some companies operate in, this may spell a doom for them as the capacity of the company to be resilient and scalable is greatly reduced due to the impact of Covid-19. Although, achieving growth and performance is not easy, it is more problematic and greatly difficult for companies to incorporate technological innovations and raise the satisfaction level of their customers if Covid-19 has eroded their staff productivity.