During these testing times, businesses need to demonstrate resilience more than ever, yet with COVID-19 still threatening both the health and freedom of members of staff, many businesses are unconsciously leaving themselves vulnerable.
Over-reliance on individual members of staff
Amid the current pandemic, the idea that staff members could be rendered incapacitated due to ill health for an extended period has become a significantly more real and immediate threat.
Think about the key figures within your business; not taking their personality attributes into account, does what they do within their role make them critical to the company? To put it simply, do they do something in your business that no-one else can do? If so, consider what would happen if they were taken out of action for a matter of days, weeks or even months.
Too many businesses place such a reliance on these key figures that they would simply not survive if the individuals were taken out of action for an extended period or even permanently. In reality, no one member of staff should be indispensable to your business. If there’s a role that only one person with your business can do, this could leave your business exposed.
Identifying and safeguarding business-critical tasks
Certain essential tasks need to be done regularly to keep your business running, including payroll, month-end close, access to bank accounts, insurer rec and IT system maintenance. For many businesses, the onus for completing these on time falls on individual staff members. Often these processes aren’t properly written down or documented because it hasn’t been necessary in the past. While this won’t particularly pose a problem if the people who know how to carry out the task are always present, it can cause momentous issues in their departure.
In order to ensure continuity for both your staff and your customers, as a business you need to have the provisions in place to ensure these essential duties can be carried out by anyone. For staff members who usually take these on, it’s imperative that they get the processes written down in a clear and comprehensive way so that anybody picking up the notes can perform the task to the same standard. Your aim is to plan ahead to ensure the job can get done no matter what.
Allocation of work within a broking business
Ask yourself if you’re running an autocratic or an exclusive business. Many businesses are autocratic without even intending on being so and this is leaving them badly exposed. If you are running such a business, now’s the time to change. Think about what you can do to work with the people that you have around you to instigate a more exclusive environment and delegate tasks across the business.
It can be tempting as a leader to take on as much as possible as this way, you know it will get done on time and to your standards. But with effective delegation and documentation of processes, this shouldn’t be necessary. By taking this approach, you will not only become more resilient as a business, but you will also free up your own time as a leader.
If you have members of staff who are unwilling or don’t have the time to sufficiently hand off these processes or formally document how to execute them, this only serves to stunt the growth of your business. With these roadblocks in place, if something does happen to that employee, their absence could cause your business to falter or fail altogether – that’s why eliminating these now is essential.
Testing your processes
Once you’ve documented the processes for these business-critical tasks, it’s then time to test them out on your staff to ensure that they are clear enough with dry-run. If you don’t do this, you could find that you’re in no better position should the time come that you need them.
It could be worth asking another member of staff or a trusted family member to test the process by calling in with a certain query or posing as a customer. This way you can see how your employees would react and follow the guidance in a ‘real-life scenario’, without it having a detrimental impact on your business.
By taking calculated steps to build your business resilience now, you will be in better stead should a key member of staff need to take sudden and extended sick leave.