Strategy and management are essential to leading a company through crisis; but at the heart of any organisation is its people, and organisations around the world have been celebrating the pivotal role that employees have played in tiding their company through unprecedented challenges.

One such company is Manuli Hydraulics, a global manufacturing firm that was able to resume its plant operations in Suzhou at 90 per cent capacity just a month after lockdown restrictions were eased in China. Speaking to recruiting experts Hays in the recently released Lessons from China mini-report, Luca Pozzi, General Manager of Manuli Hydraulics in China and Southeast Asia, is quick to give credit to employees on the ground whose dedication helped get the company back to speed in record time.

“I have to praise some of my colleagues who proved to be extremely brave in challenging times. One of our employees came into the plant all alone to ensure we could launch our application to reopen the business. This was early into the crisis where much was still unknown, but we stayed connected remotely via We WeChat and together, were able to launch the application successfully. Our HR team also came back into the office a few days before we reopened and ran the payroll so all the employees could be paid. They were all by themselves and ran all the entries in a single day. It may have been impossible to motivate our people to get back if we couldn’t pay them, but this allowed us to be wire salaries the very next day and ensure everyone was paid before they came back to work.” 

With these examples in mind, Luca shares three recommendations that can help organisations focus on utilising the power of their people at this challenging time:

  1. Engage with your people

“Stakeholder management is key during times of crisis, be it employees, customers, or suppliers,” says Luca. “Arguably today the usage of social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and WeChat is vital in making people feel comfortable, and to show your stakeholders how you can react to emergency situations. Having a good marketing communicator is also important because they use these social networks and create the story that will report the measures you are putting in place. Improving your IT tools is one thing but being able to have the right people who can actually use them and communicate on them is a different thing,” he shares.

  1. Have well connected people

“One of the biggest lessons I learned from this crisis is that you don’t just need to have good people, but well-connected people. What was so important for us in this crisis was that we were well connected both to local and international networks. I was constantly connected with other executives from my personal network, and exchanged with them on a daily basis tips, news on how to restart, and which solutions are to be adopted to deal with the newest regulations.”

“Even more important were the local connections that came from my managers, particularly in HR, who were genuinely looking to screen and understand the new regulations that were coming and how to implement them,” he says.

  1. Right People, Right Time

“Looking back to the last few months, I think what organisations really need to work hard on is ensuring that in each function of your company, the people are really up to expectation. And if they are not, you need to change something. If you don’t, you may pay a very heavy price later on. So for me the lesson really is that there may be some difficult times but having people who are at the right place at the right moment is so important.”

“If I look back at how some areas in our company were functioning last year or 18 months ago, it would have been near impossible to get through this crisis if they had remained as they were. Constantly improving the performance of your people is crucial because at the end of the day, a successful company needs people who are both capable and committed. If one of these things are missing at the time of crisis management, it could end in disaster,” he concludes.

Speaking on these lessons in the context of Malaysia, Tom Osborne, Managing Director for Hays Malaysia commented, “Malaysia’s swift return to work and heartening growth across industries is testament to the power of its workforce. It is vital that businesses continue to focus on motivating and retaining their best talent at this time, who will form their most important asset through what is looking to be a long road to economic recovery the world over. This means not only ensuring employees have access to the right technology and tools, but also ensuring the continual development of their career and skills. The key lies in building both a psychologically and physically safe workplace that values the contributions of employees and supports their wellbeing during these challenging times.”


To download your free copy of Lessons from China, please click here. For more information and tips on working or job hunting from home or managing teams remotely, please visit our Inspire Me Remotely content hubs or sign up for Hays Thrive, a free online training portal designed to help employers and teams in Malaysia grow the skills they need to function effectively and thrive in the wake of Covid-19.