Are Canadian businesses stronger post COVID-19?

Lessons learned during the crisis could act as an 'accelerator' of growth and sustainability

Are Canadian businesses stronger post COVID-19?

In the post COVID-19 economy, Canadian companies are focused on building a more sustainable, more resilient business in the face of disruption, according to a new study.

Sustainability is now a top priority for more than two out of five (41%) businesses in the country, according to the HSBC global report, ‘Resilience: Building back better’.

“The first half of 2020 has been challenging for all Canadian businesses, but it’s heartening to see that lessons learned and priorities revaluated during this period could act as an accelerator for corporate environmental sustainability efforts,” said Dan Leslie, deputy head of commercial banking at HSBC Bank Canada.

Read more: Why it's crucial to be a resilient leader

In building a more resilient business, two in five companies (39%) surveyed by HSBC said they have ramped up production to meet rising demand during the pandemic and more than three in five (65%) said they are actively pivoting towards new business prospects.

While the majority of companies (85%) believe they were “somewhat prepared” for the level of disruption unfolding in the past six months, many had to move quickly. They cited four key elements for remaining resilient in H1 2020:

  • Agility (56%)
  • Treating employees well (53%)
  • Valuing customers (53%)
  • Maintaining a strong balance sheet (42%)

“Resilience goes beyond simple financial considerations,” Leslie said.

Read more: How success in the new normal is all about preparedness

Being agile and building rapport with customers and employees are the hallmarks of an innovative corporate culture – but, in times of crisis, these strategies also pay off.

“Businesses prioritized the ability to react quickly to external events, valuing customers and treating employees well higher than maintaining a strong balance sheet. At the end of the day, if you get those right, they contribute to that strong balance sheet,” Leslie said.

Apart from investing in culture, most companies (91%) found improving their collaboration with other businesses was “another key to resilience” during the COVID-19 crisis, especially when global markets were placed on lockdown and “unforeseen gaps in the supply chains of many Canadian businesses were quickly exposed,” HSBC said.

The disruption of the pandemic also had a positive effect on business: respondents said the challenges led them to improve their relations with their customers (83%), supply chain partners (78%) and employees (76%).

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