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Don’t Sit Still: Is Your Company Ready to Cope with the Current Pace of Change?
Up Here Business Magazine

Inflation. Climate change. A lingering pandemic. Risk abounds for business as we reach the mid-point of 2022. Here are 10 issues business leaders should be reviewing as they prepare for the hard-to-predict months ahead.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have witnessed substantial change and, maybe, some of us have changed ourselves. These changes have impacted our environmental, health, personal, financial, and professional choices. In turn, I am seeing business leaders and managers taking new initiatives to adapt to myriad new issues and challenges. This article reviews the top 10 legal issues for business leaders to consider in overseeing and managing their businesses through 2022. 

  1. Workplace Safety. Public health agencies in the territories have ended their public health emergency orders, which leaves companies on their own to decide whether staff should continue to practice social distancing and wear masks at work. Business leaders should be reviewing municipal directives in addition to their company policies and procedures to align them with best practices and legal obligations to protect the health and safety of staff.
  2. Return to Work Plans. What is your company’s policy for returning to work? Is everyone coming back at the same time and full-time in the office? Leaders should ask these questions and document a principled approach to return to work. They should develop clear and well-articulated policies and procedures on expectations as employees make their way back. They should also be clear about when and if staff are required to attend the office in person as well as matters such as the company’s dress code.
  3. Electronic Meetings. If staff are permitted to work remotely, business leaders must set expectations around attendance, confidentiality, and cyber security for online work. Some leaders may consider providing laptops and other electronic devices to staff to allow for remote working and online meeting attendance.
  4. Board Oversight. Boards need to be aware of the challenges raised in this article and set the tone and culture of the business. Pressing issues include CEO succession planning, reassessing the business’ crisis prevention plans, human resources management and readiness efforts, and skill and diversity-based recruitment.
  5. Insurance Coverage. As the territories are exposed to new environmental threats, insurance coverage should be reviewed to determine whether it covers flood, fire, cyber security breaches, pandemics, and other unexpected or expected events.
  6. Cyber Security and Data Privacy. Business leaders should re-examine the application of their technology and controls to protect their networks, devices, and data from cyberattacks or breaches. This examination may involve retaining independent consultants or bringing in staff to assess, monitor, and test a firm’s IT systems, technologies, and networks. Again, policies and procedures must be reviewed and updated.
  7. Recruitment and Retention. We are seeing low levels of unemployment across Canada, resulting in ample employment opportunities for workers. Recruitment and retention strategies must pay close attention to these changes and adapt to employee requests to work remotely, have flexible work hours, see increased salaries, and have diverse workplaces .
  8. Force Majeure in Contracts. When businesses sent employees home at the start of the pandemic, work either stopped or slowed down. Many leaders looked to their supply contracts to determine whether the force majeure clauses included pandemic events to cover the cancellation of the supply of services and goods or the stopping of payment during the pandemic. Business leaders must ensure their force majeure clauses reflect unexpected and uncontrollable future events.
  9. Rising cost of products and services. Inflation has hit both goods and services globally, which means that all business leaders should carefully examine the costs of the goods or services they purchase and produce. Inflation impacts many aspects of running a business, including salaries, procurement, insurance, and information technology. Rising costs make conducting business more expensive and raises questions on how to deal with these costs.
  10. Environmental and Social Changes. We live in unprecedented times regarding climate change and rapid social change. Business leaders should turn their attention to improving reliance on green energy and making meaningful contributions to environmental impact. Additionally, employees, shareholders, and community stakeholders demand more of their business leaders in providing safe, diverse workplaces and contributions to the community.

Undoubtedly, the pandemic and social changes over the last couple of years have changed many of us personally and the businesses we lead. Here’s one question every business leader should ask themselves as we navigate our new contexts: How can we make these changes meaningful and impactful to ourselves, our businesses, and our communities?

This article was originally published in Up Here Business - Issue 2 2022