Small Businesses are the backbone of New Zealand. 

When did we decide that some businesses are more valuable than others?

Who has the power to determine which businesses should continue operation? How was it decided that some businesses were expendable?

Every time you step out your front door, you are surrounded by businesses built by your neighbours, community members, whānau, and friends.

All these businesses are critical to the success of Hawke’s Bay as a region. The people that make up these businesses are critical to their whānau, their community, and should be offered an equal opportunity for success.

Businesses are already concerned about how they will survive Omicron. They don’t need an additional layer of fear over whether or not they can keep their team safe.

In a recent survey put out by Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce, 53% of respondents reported that they expect to find the next six months more challenging than the last half of 2021.

90% of respondents also indicated that they would consider utilising Rapid Antigen Tests in their workplace if the tests were universally available.

In conjunction with these findings, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce petitioned government, backed by businesses across the country, to allow all businesses access to RATs.

The government responded to our call for support, and as of 24th February, all businesses will have access to RATs to further their Omicron response.

With the removal of isolation requirements for close contacts comes a new wave of autonomy over self-management of the spread of Omicron in our community and how we handle it.

Omicron has the potential to impact some businesses more than others. 

The obvious ones include any business where interaction with the public is common (hospitality, retail, beauty services, etc).

However, a growing number of businesses are vulnerable to Omicron through a lack of risk management processes.

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable due to the lack of resources for HR support, accounting departments, and other luxuries that come with larger format businesses.

Some businesses are covering ground through proactive risk management and an agile mindset. This trend has been observed across Hawke’s Bay, where business leaders have taken a collaborative approach and planned to ensure their business can continue operating under any circumstance.

This approach is good for business, good for employees, and good for the community.

Leaders can shape an adaptive response by promoting speed and decisiveness in decision-making. Quick, well-informed decisions promote flexibility and allow an organisation to make choices that will benefit the business and the workplace as a whole.

Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a webinar to enable businesses to speak directly to the services that can provide support.

The Smart Business Solutions Webinar brought the Hawke’s Bay business community together with representatives from the Ministry of Social Development, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, and local human resources agency, Grow HR. 

Key challenges identified in the webinar are common across all industries in the region: financial struggles, staffing shortages, and confusion around isolation and testing requirements.

Here are a few top tips identified in the webinar:

  1. Put together a plan to address a Covid outbreak in the workplace. What will you do if a portion of your team is unable to work?
  2. Place an order for Rapid Antigen Tests early. The quicker you can identify an illness, the less impact it will have on your business. 
  3. Take action. Now is the time to make quick, educated decisions for the longevity of your business.

You can find the full webinar recording and accompanying resources on the Hawke’s Bay Chamber website here.

Karla Lee | CEO, Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce

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