Experts on Human Resources (HR) have said that the lockdown period could be an opportunity for leaders of organisations in Nigeria to provide emotional and psychological support for their employees.
This is especially important because the level of care displayed by employers to their staff during the lockdown would go a long way to determine how they show up at work when the crisis is over and the lockdown is lifted.
The experts spoke during a webinar titled MTN-BusinessDay Digital Dialogue. The webinar, which is the first of a series and moderated by Nneka Eze, partner at Dalberg Advisors, examined the theme ‘Lay-offs, Pay cuts, Redundancy: Businesses, What are Your Options?’
In that regard, organisations should be transparent with their employees. For instance, if members of staff are made to realise the state of the company’s income, it would aid their understanding when they are asked to take a pay cut.
Ikwuemesi also said it would help if the discussions started before the lockdown order was given. Nigeria declared a lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun on the last Sunday of March after confirmed coronavirus cases rose sharply. Prior to the federal government declaration, states like Kaduna and Kwara had already imposed curfews.
“We began discussions about lay-offs and pay cuts two weeks to the lockdown,” Ikwuemesi said.
For Folabi Kuti, Partner at Perchstone & Graeys, leaders in organisations have to lead from the front and make the same sacrifice they are demanding of their workers.
All over the world, executives who profited from booming markets, thanks to their stock-heavy pay packages, are now faced with plunging share prices and the prospect of a painful recession that will shine a harsher spotlight on the highly paid.
In the UK, more than three dozen companies have cut their top executives’ wages so far, according to research by the Financial Times and Minerva, the investment adviser.
In the US, the salary-sacrificing announcements began with executives from the likes of Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, whose companies were among the first and hardest hit.
Kuti pointed out that British Airways needed to have a discussion with its over 30,000 employees before arriving at an acceptable percent pay-cut for everyone. As a result of the agreement, British Airways top executives such as IAG chairman, Willie Walsh, will take a pay cut of just 20 percent for three months starting from March.
In Nigeria, MTN said all levels of leadership have been mandated to provide emotional support to all levels of staff in the company.
“At the regional level, the regional heads are staying in touch with employees and asking about their welfare,” said Ezekiel Bamigboye, senior manager, Lagos & Southwest Enterprise Business, MTN Nigeria. “This is the time we have to leave our comfort zone as leaders and reach out to the staff.”
Beyond emotional support, Kuit said the use of technology in mainstream operations has come to stay even in post-COVID-19 era.
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