Understand your business
27 February 2020
5 min read
The Australian bushfires and the coronavirus are examples of natural calamities that affect people and businesses in many ways. These effects include stress among employees concerning an uncertain future, the need for company owners to support their employees during recovery, the need to restore security with regard to finance and preventing further financial losses, and many others.
In this article, we touch upon the negative impacts that businesses are dealing with due to unforeseen natural disasters. We also talk about how businesses and people can get back on their feet, as well as the role of the Australian government in their recovery.
The business consequences of natural calamities
A natural calamity such as a bushfire or the spread of a virus (e.g., the coronavirus) not only affects people in general but also has adverse effects on businesses, company owners, their families, and their employees.
According to Moody’s Analytics, the economic consequences of the most recent spate of bushfires in Australia is projected to exceed the $4.4 billion record set by the Black Saturday fires of 2009. Besides, the devastating effects of this type of calamity are long term and wide-ranging, requiring concerted efforts among the people, government, and business owners.
As for the coronavirus issue, companies such as Australian seafood exporters that ship seafood like lobster to China every day are already feeling the ill effects of safety fears and the closure of food markets. Other China-reliant establishments likely to experience the financial impact of the Chinese travel ban include the Australian universities that derive substantial portions of their income from Chinese students.
Essential steps to recovery
When natural disasters and other disruptive events strike, they can create a whole host of problems for business owners. They not only need to deal with problems such as structural damage and lost or destroyed inventory but also loss of productivity, employee morale, and income.
Thus, it is paramount for employee assistance efforts to be efficiently handled, and business owners need to take steps to encourage business recovery and revitalisation. Below are some of the things you need to take care of to help your people get back on their feet, as well as to restore your business.
1. Communicate regularly
One of the biggest concerns businesses hit by natural calamities need to deal with is communication. Ensuring employees that they are constantly updated on what’s happening in real-time and reassuring them that the management is taking the necessary steps to handle the crisis is crucial.
Let your staff know exactly what is going on and what they can do to assist with recovery efforts. Make use of email, messaging apps, social media, and all available company communication channels. Doing this will not only communicate the concrete steps you are taking to restore normalcy but also build up employee morale and trust in the company.
2. Provide a detailed outline of the next steps
After everyone’s initial reaction to a natural disaster has passed, there’s a need to have a concrete plan in place that will indicate what processes need to be done to restore order. Make sure you outline these steps designed to help you to not only clean up the mess but also to resume operations even at a smaller scale. A well-known Australian retailer that has recently gone into voluntary administration is doing precisely this to save their business.
As this phase is underway, it’s especially important to keep your workforce informed about what’s supposed to happen next, especially with regard to office hours, flexibility to work remotely or part-time, time off from work, bringing children to work, etc.
3. Assist your employees in their recovery
Some businesses would have funds allocated toward providing employees not only financial assistance but also psychosocial support for recovery.
However, even if your resources are limited, you can still ease the burden of your employees by ensuring they can get help from local community outreach groups, churches, and federal and local agencies. Provide the contact details they need, help initiate contact with these establishments, and endorse your employees.
4. Seek mental health support
According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
If your business has been impacted by the bushfires or the coronavirus issue, the Australian government has programs designed to help business owners cope with stress. This type of assistance is critical in ensuring all individuals affected by natural calamities get the emotional and psychological assistance they need to cope with difficult, albeit temporary, circumstances.
5. Take control of your finances
The next step to getting back to rebuilding your business involves several considerations aimed at improving your financial standing. These include claiming insurance, getting your finances in order, and making sure that you are honouring your business obligations.
You need to get in touch with the pertinent government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to get the help you need with regard to taxation and super guarantee contributions.
For help with funding your business, you can apply for a business financial support line through the government’s Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) office. You also need to communicate with your retailers concerning bank and utility bill payments, so they can extend the assistance you need based on your situation.
You can also apply for an unsecured business loan with an establishment like Banjo Loans. This way, you’ll get the support you need in the form of short-term cash flow that’s enough to get things started, so your business can achieve the level of normalcy it needs to recover.
If your business is financially struggling due to the bushfires or the coronavirus, you can also approach the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) to help you make company fee payment arrangements.