There’s no doubt the current third national lockdown feels much harder to navigate than the first. Steve Hare, Sage CEO believes it’s due to ‘lockdown fatigue’ and ongoing uncertainty. Business leaders have had to step up to the mark to ensure their people and customers felt supported during a very challenging time.
For Hare, it’s about calm leadership in the face of uncertainty: focusing on what can be controlled while engaging in two-way communication with the workforce by maintaining personal interaction and listening. Staff will undoubtedly have different pressures, so listening and having empathy is key.
Staff safety and wellbeing must always be the first priority, as it was for Sage. With that in place, staff will be in a better position to support their customer base. Sage’s focus was on the here and now, while encouraging businesses to think about their future in terms of flexibility and adaptability, particularly around digitisation.
According to Hare, there’s been a surge in business investment in digital tools in order to interact with customers. This acceleration, he says, is ‘vital’ for the economy. “Before Covid, the UK had a productivity issue. We always lagged behind competitors. Some of that is because we’re less advanced from a digital perspective.”
In a post-pandemic world, that’s likely to change, along with a shift in businesses’ wider obligations. “The world has changed and for good,” says Hare. “Businesses have an obligation to look after the environment, participate in their communities and encourage people to pull together.”