You can learn a lot about an organisation in a crisis. In the white light of times like these, organisational problems can be exacerbated and the truth really does come out.

Take EasyJet for example. The airline recently asked for a government bailout to get it through the coronavirus crisis. No shame in that – if it hadn’t at the same time signed off a £174m payout to its shareholders.

For an organisation that claims to “support” and “empower” its staff, it seems it is directors and not workers who top the priorities list.

Then there’s Sports Direct – which tried to flout rules on only essential shops staying open, putting staff and customers at risk in the name of running socks and dart boards.

Against these shoddy crisis responses, however, most employers are valiantly trying to get on with life under these surreal conditions.

And the level of resilience I’ve seen from neuro-rehab companies and facilities has genuinely taken me by surprise; not that the feats of people in this field haven’t continually amazed me since we launched the magazine in 2016.

When coronavirus escalated from lingering concern to very real threat, the NR Times team had a crisis meeting; think Cobra but with Jaffa Cakes. We tried to predict how events might unfold.

Like everyone else, none of us had experienced a global pandemic on these shores.

The closest thing I’d had to working in any sort of national crisis came in a former life on newspapers covering the financial crash. It was a brutal time for businesses, amid bank runs and mass redundancies.

Staying the course as an employer was invariably tough, and there were many heroic leaders who strived to protect their staff. But the words “credit crunch” also became a veil behind which many business ills could be hidden.

It became a catch-all excuse for incompetence, unfair dismissals and poor customer service.

So in my sheltered experience of crisis-times, there were those that did everything they could to rise to the challenge, with varying degrees of success, and those that made excuses and gave up.

But in this latest crisis, which makes the financial crash look like a trip to Disneyland, where would our interviewees, contributors and sponsors be on this spectrum?

After various video calls, four words sprang to mind: ‘tough as old boots’.

It wasn’t that COVID-19 didn’t worry the rehab professionals I spoke to – of course it did. But there was no drama or panic, just a steely resolve to protect vital staff and vulnerable clients.

There was plenty of ingenuity being shown too.

I spoke to care teams taking advantage of social media to help clients stay connected and others showing great flexibility to step in to help the NHS.

Also rising to the challenge are those providing the technology, legal support, funding and guidance that is essential in enabling rehab journeys to continue without disruption.

All have bucket-loads of can-do attitude and are united in an unflinching desire to maintain standards regardless of the looming external danger.

Read more about their COVID-19 response here.

Andrew Mernin
Andrew@aspectpublishing.co.uk