When wolves hunt for prey or search for new territory to survive, they take their time, but remain on the offensive. Businesses are similar: in times of crisis, critical decisions must be made to survive. We’ve all heard the horror stories that follow: layoffs, furloughs, losing benefit coverage, an unfortunate reality for the employee but a necessary move for survival of the employer’s business.

However, businesses that find long-term success operate with the full wolf pack mentality. That means  loyalty and devotion to the group guides every decision. Even when resources are scarce, the pack’s wellbeing is the top priority.

The strongest wolves lift up those that struggle for the benefit of all. Similarly, a company’s leaders and employees should band together to lift the business to success, which is why substantial efforts should be made to avoid staff cuts and pausing operational initiatives.

At Greenlight Guru, we have built a culture grounded in the principle of improving the quality of life, not just for our customers but also our own team members. We operate by maintaining a constructive resistance to adversity. We know our strength lies in our team, and we’ve done everything possible to retain and grow our talented staff.

Since Indiana’s Work From Home order went into effect on March 6, we have:

  • Welcomed 27 new team members
  • Made no furloughs or staff cuts
  • Not reduced pay for any employee

During times of crises, companies may feel added pressure to make rash business decisions out of fear; it’s important to act methodically and evaluate your unique position from every angle. I firmly believe companies must focus on people through three key lenses to not just survive challenging times, but also thrive.

Continue to invest in new talent and ideas

Creating a unique culture does not happen by chance nor does it come easy. Rather, a company’s culture is a cumulative result of the ongoing contributions made from each and every team member. At Greenlight Guru we have been recognized as a market leader for two consecutive years as the best medical device quality management system. We’ve earned our leadership position in the market by building off our team’s collective experience, knowledge and contributions and relying on our unique culture to bring innovation to the medical device industry.

But even the best pack needs new members to keep momentum going. Unfortunately, hiring talent is often the first function to halt during tumultuous times. According to a Fortune survey, 59% of CEOs implemented a hiring freeze amidst the pandemic. A hiring freeze may seem the shorter path toward survival, but your company’s overall level of innovation and talent pipeline will ultimately suffer.

For companies in the position to hire, there are currently 30 million unemployed Americans, each of whom possesses unique talent sets, diverse backgrounds and innovative ideas. It’s worth opening your pipeline and inviting new minds into the fold. And if your business isn’t in a position to hire at this time, explore ways in which you can keep your talent pipeline active while fostering your current team’s long-term growth potential.

Keep operations moving forward

While you must have new talent and ideas to foster innovation, you must do something with those ideas. If you sit back and roll with the punches, you’ll lose a unique opportunity to bypass competitors.

Take a closer look at the last recession. Some businesses found success through survival. They stayed within their territory and paused investment and hiring opportunities. Other businesses pushed a strong offense and continued to innovate, thriving in their respective industry.

In 2009, Samsung took advantage of the recession to double down on research and development while their competitors cut down significantly. Samsung found success in their approach, jumping from number twenty-one on Interbrand’s global brand value list to number six in 2020. Investing more in R&D and internal talent allowed Samsung to continue innovating their product, growing into an industry leader alongside Apple.

Today’s climate presents an opportunity like Samsung’s, where pushing your boundaries can yield unimaginable success. Keeping product initiatives on track puts your team’s ideas into action and allows you to reach new heights of revenue and growth. Businesses can also press on with pursuing other initiatives such as adopting new technology to optimize operations or investing in continued education for staff.

Treat people like people

It’s worth restating the Golden Rule we all learned as children: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” The same is true for leading a business. All members of an organization should be treated with respect and valued for their contributions to the business — not as a budget line item.

If cutting costs are necessary to stay afloat, employees should be last on that list. Showing your staff they are valued goes beyond office ping pong tables and generous vacation packages. Companies need to focus on showcasing value and appreciation through transparency and commitment during a time when they need it most. Just like wolves won’t abandon a member of their pack, you mustn’t forsake the members of your team.

Operating with a pack mentality is more than just finding business success. It’s about not backing down when faced with risks, not taking the easy when faced with challenges, and staying committed to every stakeholder across the organization — customers, partners, and, most importantly, employees. And when we look back on today ten years from now, the most successful companies will be those that stayed committed to their workforce and innovation across their organization.

David DeRam is the co-founder and CEO of Greenlight Guru, the only medical device quality management system (MDQMS) software designed specifically for medical devices.

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