Business leaders of Dutch companies in Vietnam help each other with support and advice amidst Corona crisis

Digital roundtables in the form of video conference call

CEO’s of top Dutch companies talk about challenges and mitigation of the COVID 19 Crisis     

In order to find solutions and fight the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders of 25 Dutch businesses seeked support with other Dutch companies. Using online conference calls this week, companies sought and found new ways to battle the enormous impact it has on everyone’s business. Amongst the participants were leaders of top companies such as Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), De Heus, HEINEKEN, Royal Haskoning and Friesland Campina.

The Dutch Business Association Vietnam (DBAV) facilitated the group calls, that revolved around two main topics: People & Safety, and Business Continuity. The group came up with answers to questions that were raised before the meeting: “How does your company handle the COVID-Crisis”, and “What are your biggest COVID challenges?” 

Key take-outs on people & safety

Key take-outs under all participants were:

  • All companies indicated that they expect that the crisis will end someday and aim to come back stronger than ever before. They are fighting to keep their employees on board during this difficult time in order to excel when the economical tide is coming back. Structural lay-offs really are the last resort. Some companies are struggling to keep up, and they shared they communicate open and honest with their employees about the situation their company is in.
  • Some of those companies have successfully discussed with their employees that they pay a percentage of their salary, up to 40% or reduce the working hours in mutual agreements. Most companies that can afford it try to take away the sorrows for employees by guaranteeing them they can stay with the company throughout the crisis;
  • Most companies are not in that phase yet, and can still manage to keep salaries and contract intact for their employees. These companies are mainly working on keeping the employee morale high in these difficult times. Companies advised each other to keep bonding, keep connecting with employees and shared best practices of doing so, such as by organizing digital Friday afternoon drinks, or organizing fun online quizzes and quick polls, by using the mobile phone app Kahoot;
  • All companies want to contribute to “flatten the curve” and do so by working in shifts from home, offering elaborate remote working options, regular safety checks such as health and temperature checks and letting only the vital employees work at their working locations;

Business continuity

Meanwhile, the CEO’s amongst the participants found themselves working on the fundamentals of their company in order to let the business continue as much as possible:

  • Moving from the ‘traditional’ profit based management and KPI’s, towards cash based management and maximizing the amount of cash in the organization. Make financial scenarios to assess the amount of cash that is required to make it through.
  • Participants agreed on cash control rather than hard cutting costs. All participants agreed that the crisis will go over one day and they all want to come back stronger than before. By only cutting costs they will find that they will have a hard time to get back on their feet again once the crisis passes;
  • In view of business operations measures, a key challenge for production businesses is their supply chain, because many supply chains are getting disrupted. Production from China has fallen still, although it is now slowly getting back on its feet again; companies are also placing outside their traditional warehouses and plants in order to prevent a business meltdown when the government suddenly locks down their business
  • Many companies try to seek positivity in the crisis by seeing it as an opportunity to review, digitalize and automate their business processes. They use the extra time on their hands to update their guidebooks, e-learning for employees and reviewing their business processes. Due to the remote working that is now in place, many companies are forced to automate or digitalize their working processes, which will still be of use for them when the crisis passes.

The infographic on the topic is available at this link:

Next week: webinars on specific subjects

There are still many question marks around what measures the Vietnamese government is taking to provide relief for companies that are affected. Also there are lots of questions around labour contracts of employees and rights and obligations for employers. Although lay-offs are a company’s last resort, looking forward to the uncertain future, many companies will have to let go off staff if the situation continues to be as it is now. We will discuss rights and obligations of the employer here in Vietnam and also best practices. Beforehand participants to the webinar can ask questions that we will handle during the webinar. The webinar will take place on Wednesday April 1st, 4 PM.

Registration and asking questions beforehand here.

Also lots of questions were asked around business continuity in the feared case of a “lockdown” and all companies try to prepare for that. It is very much advised to take all the company’s essentials such as company stamps, keys, laptops and more along to the home offices. DBAV will host a webinar on business continuity, with as expert Björn Rambags, General Manager and Head of Pharma at Boehringer Ingelheim, a market leader in pharmaceutical products. The webinar will take place on Thursday April 2nd, .4 PM. The webinar is free entrance for all. Participants are able to ask their most stringent questions beforehand.

Resources on both matters can be found here