The Coronavirus pandemic has left many individuals, businesses, and even countries incapacitated. For businesses especially, it may not be ‘business as usual’ for a very long time. The harsh turn of events has sparked what many would refer to as “difficult conversations” – proactive yet inevitable measures.
While some have taken to laying off employees, others have put a cut on the monthly payroll. Access Bank has taken the empathetic route of trimming operating costs instead of outright workforce downsizing.
The Bank’s GMD/CEO, Dr Herbert Wigwe, on Thursday, April 30, informed shareholders at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) that the bank was already addressing the issue of high operating expenses and taking drastic measures to ensure that expenses are reduced significantly. This is to remain accountable to all shareholders and keep the business running. The decision aligns with the bank’s track record of always recognising that employees are its greatest assets and according to them the required priority.
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A good case in point is the transition that occurred during its merger with the defunct Diamond Bank. The merger, which positioned the bank as the leading retail bank in Africa with a solid wholesale share, sparked widespread fear that Access Bank will lay off some of its staff members but none of that happened. Instead, all staff of Diamond Bank were immersed in Access Bank’s workforce on their appropriate levels and designation. That decision spoke volumes about how much value the bank puts on its people.
Speaking on how Access Bank is running its business amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Wigwe assured that Access Bank has put in place a robust business continuity process that is enough to sustain the Bank’s performance going forward. He stated:
“Access Bank was well prepared for COVID-19 early enough and created ways of working from home and working with our customers. We set up links with our customers and devised ways of reaching out to them three or four times a day. This happened even before we started working with the larger society and it enabled us to start fighting this pandemic.”
He also added that in order to remain accountable to shareholders and keep the business running, it has become necessary to rationalise cost structure including salary and even service providers.
No business is having it easy at this time. Top global enterprises have all taken various measures to ensure that they stay afloat of the situation. This is a time when we all need to be more understanding and work towards eradicating the virus so that we can continue living our normal lives. Sometimes, everyone has to endure some discomfort in order to ensure that no one is left behind, and this sums up the rationale behind Access Bank’s decision because all shareholders, including employees, deserve empathy and consideration.