‘An opportunity to look back and understand the lessons learned’
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Jul 21, 2020 • • 2 minute read
Canadian businesses lagged their global counterparts both in terms of how prepared they were for the COVID-19 pandemic and in how they’re planning to move forward from it, according to a new survey from HSBC.
Between April 28 and May 12, HSBC surveyed 2,600 companies, 200 of which were Canadian, about how they were responding to COVID-19.
The overwhelming majority — 85 per cent — of Canadian business leaders said they were at least somewhat prepared for the challenges brought by COVID-19, a figure that nevertheless lagged the global average of 92 per cent.
Once the pandemic did hit, Canadian businesses were also less likely to react, with only 22 per cent moving to diversify their supply chains, compared with 29 per cent of global companies.
“This is an opportunity for Canadian businesses to look back and understand the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dan Leslie, deputy head of commercial banking at HSBC Bank Canada.
“With markets worldwide in lockdown, there might have been unforeseen gaps in supply chains for Canadian businesses and they were quickly exposed because of the pace of play relative to the spread of the pandemic. This would require new approaches to limit future disruptions.”
Canadian businesses also fell behind on the sustainability front. Eighty five per cent of leaders said reviewing their operations during the pandemic will allow them to rebuild their companies with firmer environmental foundations. But international businesses (44 per cent) were more likely to see the importance of increasing sustainability than those operating in Canada (37 per cent).
Despite the stronger international numbers, Leslie still saw the results as being meaningful for Canadian businesses and reflective of how they were willing to change.
We have Canadian businesses saying more than ever that in the next one to two years they expect pressures to come to bear from a sustainability perspective
Dan Leslie, HSBC
“We have Canadian businesses saying more than ever that in the next one to two years they expect pressures to come to bear from a sustainability perspective whether it’s regulatory authorities, whether it’s customers and consumer demand which we’re certainly seeing, employees and of course shareholders owners and investors,” Leslie said.
Going forward, leaders are eyeing the possibility of implementing further changes, the survey found.
Seventy per cent of Canadian businesses identified some kind of flexible working arrangement for employees that would be implemented over the next two years.
When it comes to conducting meetings, 56 per cent of leaders said they expect to continue to meet virtually, even after the pandemic.
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They also identified their biggest barriers to success. Employee morale was seen as the most significant challenge by 36 per cent of respondents.
Having sufficient cash flow, 28 per cent, and access to advanced technology, 25 per cent, rounded out the top three.
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