Protecting Your Spirit During This Time

Humans are naturally meaning-seeking, purpose-driven creatures — and these traits can help us stay resilient during challenging times.

This marks the end of our three-part series on optimizing our mindbody and spirit during COVID. Today, we’ve delving into building resilience in the spirit. When we talk about spirit in this context, it’s totally secular and non-religious. What we’re talking about is at the heart of what resilience really is: fortitude, courage, and power. How can we spark these things within us in the midst of the pandemic? The answer lies in the wise Eastern saying: No mud, no lotus. Meaning, the challenge to cultivate these inner attributes is brought on by the challenge itself. 

Humans are by definition meaning-seeking, purpose-driven creatures. 

We thrive when we are leading purposeful, meaningful lives. And resiliency feeds off this energy. So to build a resilient spirit, we need to a find ways to create meaning and purpose during this pandemic. There have been so many examples of resiliency in spirit all around the world: on the balconies in Italy, the press briefings of New York’s Governor Cuomo, and in the relief efforts to get PPE to healthcare workers worldwide. The human spirit is the most resilient force on the planet!

So today, I want to focus on three specific ways you can start building a resilient spirit by creating a sense of meaning and purpose in your own lives during this time:

1. Step into a growth mindset, not a scarcity mindset.

The stress caused by a pandemic creates a scarcity mindset. It’s our self-preservation mechanism in overdrive. Pandemics on the whole breed the scarcity mindset because it’s a survival tactic we as humans have evolutionarily developed. We are biologically primed to scan our environment for danger and act accordingly. It is inherently protective because it keeps us safe. But at the individual level, we have great power in outsmarting our biology to turn off our scarcity mindset and turn on our growth mindset. 

At the core of the growth mindset is the belief that challenges can make us stronger, wiser and more able than we were before. The mere fact that you are reading this is proof that you are stepping into your growth mindset, because you believe you have the power to change and grow. 

We can take concrete steps to cultivate a growth mindset by first managing our stress response using many of the tools we learned in prior weeks.  When we build resilience in our mind and body through the ways we’ve talked about before, we can step out of the fear zone and into the growth zone even in the midst of a pandemic (see below).  

2. Watch the movie of your life

Another way to build our spirit during this crisis is to become the observer.  Mindfulness experts talk a lot about this concept, but let me break it down into very Hollywood terms: Start watching the movie of your life. We’re not talking about an action-packed blockbuster here, we’re talking about our quiet inner ability to watch ourselves and really pay attention to how we’re living in the day to day during this pandemic. 

Think of your life right now as a movie and you as the hero or heroine of this tale. Are you the lead character you want to be? Are you stepping into your power and intentionally working on your potential for calmness, peace of mind and inner strength? Are you making intentional choices to read and watch uplifting things, to spend time (virtually, of course) with people who make you laugh and bring you joy? Are you working on creating a calm, safe haven within yourself amidst the chaos of the outside world?

We’ve talked a lot in the past two modules of how when we do better, we feel better. And with this doing, resilience has a chance to grow. It’s time to channel your Hollywood starlet and cultivate that Oscar-worthy, resilient performance. 

3. Live a lifetime in a day

As an integrative medicine doctor, living a lifetime in a day is a mantra I repeat often to patients. It’s a way to incorporate all the elements that make up an arc of a long, purposeful and meaningful life — work, family, solitude, vacation, and retirement — and building each of those into one single day

For example, engaging in work could mean any project that brings you a feeling of productivity or achievement. Spending time in family life (whether you have a family or not) could mean connecting virtually with your tribe to feel a sense of belonging. Taking a vacation could mean doing something that brings you joy and levity and gets you into a state of flow.  And retirement could mean taking a pause in the day to reflect and take stock of your blessings. 

By living a lifetime in a day, we learn to take the long view and zoom out.  And when we zoom out, we can paradoxically learn to zoom in on what matters most: people, love, connection, health and ultimately happiness, the most universally resilient life force of all.

The spirit of resilience in a poem

Here’s one of my most favorite poems about the spirit of resilience. Charles Bukowski wrote this in 1993, long before the COVID pandemic. If there’s one piece of literary genius that summarizes the resiliency of the human spirit, I think this might be it:

Author: Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, Mind-Body Medicine Doctor at Harvard Medical School

Four Strategic Priorities for the Post-COVID-19 World

To build resilience going forward, the first question to answer is not, “What’s in it for me?” but “What if?”

By now, everyone knows that the shattering impact of COVID-19 has brought on a business crisis without precedent in recent memory. On one level, though, the pandemic represents nothing new. For years, we have been hearing and talking about the impending “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world. Over and over again, we were told to prepare for seismic change that was sure to arrive, to boost agility in anticipation of abrupt, profound disruption. COVID-19 was a misfortune long foreseen; only the dates and other specific details were missing.

Regardless, the pandemic will fundamentally reshape how we do business from now on. Even if lockdowns end soon and the virus is staunchly suppressed never to return, its effect will linger. Now that the whole world has experienced the VUCA that only emerging markets used to face, it can never again be treated as an abstraction.

So when business leaders share with me how their business strategies will likely change in the post-virus period, many say they’ll continue with initiatives they’ve already started, such as digitalisation or social responsibility, but faster and with higher intensity. I have to point out to them that this might not be enough. Some of their key strategic priorities will have to be modified in a radical way.

To start, the basic purpose of business strategy is to steer companies towards sustainable sources of growth and profit. There are many tried-and-true frameworks for guiding strategy, e.g. Michael Porter’s five forces, which allows firms to orient their competitive position according to coordinates of threat and power. For decades, this classic way of thinking has provided a useful lens for analysing strategic moves of players within an industry. It no doubt remains relevant today. However, Porter’s neat chessboard does not account for whipping winds (think pandemics, political revolutions, climate change events such as the Australian bushfires) that may kick up suddenly and blow away the pieces. Anticipating the disruptive events that live outside Porter’s framework will be a major part of business strategy going forward.

I see four new priorities that strategists will need to put on their radar for the years to come.

  1. Aim for survivability and resilience before economic efficiency

It would seem meaningless to talk about an efficient dead organisation. In the post-COVID-19 world, contingency planning should be built into every link of the value chain to ensure survival. Instead of structuring partnerships on the basis of leverage and getting the better end of the deal whenever possible, firms will have to be much more strategic in choosing which alliances are essential, and which are transactional. Rather than “What’s in it for me?”, the first question ought to be “What if?” It may be necessary to forego some of the most lucrative partnerships in favour of those that can withstand a missed shipment or delayed payment here or there when fate intervenes.

To increase reliability, therefore, redundancy will trump efficiency with regard to critical resources. Investing too much in one partner, supplier or market can be as bad an idea as betting your life savings on one horse. For example, many major multinationals may be regretting their decision to rely so heavily on China as the pandemic exposes fissures in the nation’s prosperous façade. Apple and Foxconn’s joined-at-the-hip relationship is causing trouble for both companies, amid a vicious cycle of COVID-19 factory shutdowns and declining demand for premium smartphones. The uncertainty will only intensify as the rivalry between the US and China continues to escalate. (More about politics below.)

IKEA is an example of how a major company can balance long-term loyalty with diversification in the supply chain. The company deliberately maintains a large number of moderate-size suppliers worldwide, helping them improve production quality. It engages in nurturing, long-term relationships rather than squeezing every last cent.

2. Quantify and plan for ecological and environmental threats rather than just describe them

Today, many executives and analysts talk about various types of threats in a descriptive way, with very little in-depth forethought about how to deal with them should they arise. The good old concept of scenario planning is still with us, but very few businesses seem to practise it in a systematic and thorough way. Moreover, conventional risk assessment typically omits threats with no known probability distribution function, such as environmental devastation and sudden increases in refugee flows. And today’s businesses, already overwhelmed with “clear and present” business challenges, are hard-pressed to devote attention to what they consider low-probability events.

But recent history shows that extreme upheavals are far from rare. In the last century, the world has experienced at least five dangerous virus attacks, from the pandemic of 1918 that infected about one-third of the global population to COVID-19 in the present. There were also at least two devastating nuclear reactor meltdowns, two world wars and several near-misses, numerous earthquakes and tsunamis, countless regional armed conflicts that threatened supply of essential goods. Climate change, overpopulation and rising worldwide inequality have only increased the likelihood of these threats occurring again in the future.

Businesses should thus dedicate more resources to quantify various types of threats although there is no broad consensus on the best way to do this. The main goal is not to be accurate, but to train the organisation to plan for various “unimaginable” events. What does not get measured does not get done, as many business executives often claim. Thus, deep qualitative analysis and scenario planning should be complemented with a number of computer-assisted algorithms providing data and various simulation models. Leaders will have to learn their way around AI and machine-learning tools – such as heat mapping algorithms that can quantify political risks based on social-media sentiment analysis – in the course of strategic decision making.

3. Build a strong organisational immune system rather than maximise short-term profits

When it comes to measuring and anticipating threats, technology is an important part of the package, but it can’t overcome a deep-seated antipathy to hard truths. In the business world to come, advantage will belong to firms that convey bad news upwards quickly rather than flinching from it.

Companies that can spot problems when they look small, learn from them and build preventive measures rapidly possess what I would call a strong organisational immune system. Just as our white blood cells identify and destroy invader cells early before they wreak havoc in our bodies, companies need long, sensitive feelers and hyper-responsive capability at all levels of the organisation to stay in the pink of health.

The downfall of Nokia’s smartphone business is a perfect example of how immune-compromised organisations collapse from within. Well before the iPhone came along, a “culture of fear” had set in at the Finnish firm. Senior and middle managers had developed a poisonous habit of sugarcoating and avoiding the serious problems with their devices and proprietary OS. Nokia had ample time and resources to develop a competitive response to the iPhone, but those advantages were squandered as toxic internal politics left management spinning its wheels.

It should be said that some top managers believe that using fear will lead to higher economic performance by reducing organisational complacency and inertia. This might have worked reasonably well in a fully controllable and predictable environment in which it is impossible for people to report good news only and hide bad news as long as they can. In today’s volatile context, however, it will result in priceless early warning signs going unheeded.

According to some observers, a Nokia-like scenario may have been behind China’s delayed response to COVID-19, stemming from long-standing misalignment between the central Communist Party authorities in Beijing and local officials, who knew of the virus in its early stages but lacked incentive to report it quickly. The result – massive human and economic harm – speaks to the high costs of complacency in this new world. Under the revived Nokia, the new board sought to build an organisational culture based on the following motto: “No news is bad news; bad news is good news; good news is no news.”

4. Integrate government politics rather than focusing only on business economics

Globalisation had a good run. The notion that the world is flat – unencumbered travels, international business deals, outsourcing to the lowest-cost countries, trade deals, etc. – had few high-powered detractors for several decades leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Ever since the advent of Brexit and the Trump presidency, however, the idea of business without borders has been on the retreat. As I write this, international air travel is all but frozen entirely, and global supply chains have been chopped to bits. Nation-states, already making a comeback before COVID-19, will likely increase their leverage over multinational businesses in the months and years to come.

Beyond national security, firms in sectors deemed “essential” to national public welfare – covering a wide range of sectors from food to medical supply, machinery and electronics equipment, transportation and energy – will be the first to feel the pressure to localise. Governments have learned the hard way that it can be dangerous to depend on foreign trade for items that make or break crisis response, such as the reactive agents that are key to COVID-19 testing or even low-tech medical gowns and face masks. They will be keen to maintain or rebuild these precious supply chains on their own soil. This could carry significant implications for businesses that seek overseas expansion. Firms should expect even more severe and close governmental scrutiny and rejection of their proposed joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, R&D collaborations, even in non-defence related sectors.

This seeming adversity could create big opportunity for some firms that integrate government politics into their business strategies. For one, homegrown innovation capability will be valued by national governments and benefit from higher economic and regulatory support. Additionally, rising patriotism – creating “good” jobs for your own people – could benefit these firms in their own countries, much like Alibaba and Tencent and Baidu have profited in part from relatively low foreign competition in China.

What’s bigger than Big Business?

You may have already noticed some interrelationships between these four priorities. Indeed, in the post-COVID-19 world, these four levers typically operate in combination, rather than in isolation.

Broadly speaking, strategy after COVID-19 will be less about beating your economic competitors, and more about how businesses can contribute to combating a larger, shared enemy, like climate change, pandemics or perhaps socio-political woes such as inequality. There’s nothing new about this. The US in World War II, for example, saw tremendous cooperative effort between businesses, as well as between the private and public sectors. The COVID-19 “new normal” may actually be a return to an older equilibrium between business and society, and wide stakeholder collaboration.

It will hopefully serve as a meaningful wake-up call for societies and businesses to take bold, radical actions that could propel humanity to a superior quality of life.

Author: Quy Nguyen Huy is the Solvay Chaired Professor of Technological Innovation and a Professor of Strategic Management at INSEAD. He is also a director of the Strategy Execution Programme, part of INSEAD’s suite of Executive Education programmes.

Acknowledgment: I am grateful for feedback from INSEAD Knowledge managing editor Benjamin Kessler, as well as strategy professors Guoli Chen, Felipe Monteiro, Daniel Simonovich, Phebo Wibbens and Christoph Zott.

From Loss Of Smell To ‘COVID Toes’: What Experts Are Learning About Symptoms

Fever, cough and shortness of breath were early on identified as symptoms of COVID-19, but additional symptoms are emerging.

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus has spread across the globe, researchers have developed a more nuanced picture of how symptoms of infection can manifest themselves, especially in milder cases.

We’re getting a “better understanding of how these symptoms express in the general population and not necessarily in hospitalized patients,” which is whom most of the earlier studies from China looked at. “So it’s a bit of a bigger picture,” says Charitini Stavropoulou, an associate professor in health services research at City, University of London in the U.K., who led an analysis of known symptoms in milder cases as part of a collaboration with Oxford University.

Some of these symptoms, such as loss of smell or taste, are highly distinctive and a strong indicator of infection. Others, like headaches, chills or sore throat, are common to lots of illnesses. So how do you know when a symptom is cause to seek medical advice or testing? We asked doctors and public health and infectious disease researchers for their insights.


Fever: Some patients can experience fevers that last for days, while others might see their temperature go up and down, with peaks often occurring in the evening, says Dr. David Aronoff, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “I think if someone has a fever, regardless of how long it’s lasting, unless they can clearly attribute it to something else, that’s a very reasonable symptom to seek an evaluation for,” he says.

Stavropoulou’s systematic review of the medical literature found that fever was reported in 82% to 87% of mild to moderate cases.

Dry cough: Cough was the second most common symptom after fever, though “coughing was not always there,” Stavropoulou notes. “So while we think it’s a main symptom, it appears only two out of three times for patients with COVID-19.”

That said, cough remains a “very, very common symptom of the pneumonia that the virus can cause,” says Aronoff. Given this fact, “if someone has a new cough or a new shortness of breath that’s cropped up in the last three days or so, they should definitely get tested.”

Shortness of breath: Stavropoulou’s review found that this symptom occurs more frequently in severe cases “and indeed, in some studies, was a marker of severe disease.” The two largest studies she looked at found that shortness of breath occurred in fewer than 8% of milder cases.


Chills/repeated shaking with chills: The chills generally precede a fever, though people don’t always perceive when their temperature has spiked, Aronoff says. Sometimes, those chills can be accompanied by shaking, since shivering is our bodies’ way of generating heat and raising our temperature, he says.

Muscle pain: Nearly 15% of COVID-19 patients experience muscle pain, according to a report published by the World Health Organization in February that analyzed nearly 56,000 confirmed cases in China. But that’s hardly unique to this disease: Lots of viral infections can cause muscle aches and pains, which can result from an inflammatory response to a virus.

“I think all of us who have had the winter cold or flu have had experience with muscle pain, headache, sore throat,” notes Aronoff. Given that we’re no longer in the typical cold and flu season, if you’re experiencing muscle pains and other flu-like symptoms, “we know that those can be associated with COVID-19,” he says. “And it is very reasonable to get people thinking, you know, maybe I should get tested.”

He added: “I would also include new-onset fatigue, out of proportion to what a patient would expect to be experiencing under whatever circumstances they are [in],” as a symptom.

However, fatigue on its own is not very predictive of disease, because it is also frequently reported by people who don’t test positive, says Claire Steves, a geriatrician and senior lecturer at King’s College London. She’s one of the lead researchers on the COVID Symptom Tracker, an app-based project that has so far recruited 3 million people across the U.K. to log any symptoms — even if they are not feeling sick. Researchers can use data from those who are eventually diagnosed with COVID-19 as an early radar on how symptoms develop in the population. (The COVID Symptom Tracker is now recruiting people in the U.S. to sign up as well.)

Steves’ research is finding that certain symptoms tend to cluster together in people who test positive. For instance, fitter people in the 20-70 age range who experience loss of smell often also experience fatigue, and they tend to have a milder course of the disease, she says.

Headache: Headaches are a common experience for many adults. On its own, a headache should probably not be cause for alarm, especially if it behaves like other headaches you’ve experienced, says Aronoff.

“If somebody is only going to use headache as a trigger to go get tested for COVID[-19], that headache should be something that either is a headache that’s new for them or that is sticking around a bit longer than they are used to,” he says. “Or it’s associated with another symptom that may also be subtle, like fatigue or feeling kind of worn out” — especially if there’s no good reason for the tiredness.

In fact, Steves says research out of the COVID Symptom Tracker suggests that headache “is an important symptom” seen early on in the course of the disease and it commonly occurs alongside other symptoms.

Sore throat: “We’re seeing sore throat in COVID-19 patients,” says Aronoff. “But it’s what I would say [is] a minor symptom” — one that’s common to lots of other ailments.

Loss of taste or smell: This symptom has emerged as a strong indicator of infection — one distinctive enough that it alone should be cause to seek testing, says Dr. Carol Yan, an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at UC San Diego Health.

If someone is experiencing this symptom, “I would tell them that they should consider self-quarantining themselves and contacting their health care providers,” says Yan. Most people who experience loss of smell or taste also have other symptoms, commonly fever, fatigue and malaise, she says. “But there’s certainly a subset of people that we know have only smell and taste loss and no other symptoms” who ultimately test positive.

Yan’s research has found that about 7 out of 10 patients reported an acute loss of sense of smell or taste at the time of their diagnosis.

Similar findings have emerged from the COVID Symptom Tracker. Among fit and healthy people ages 20 to 70, “the loss of sense of smell is a really good marker” of infection, Steves says.

In fact, this symptom is seen as such a strong indicator of infection that patients at UC San Diego Health are now routinely asked not just if they have a cough or fever but also if they’re experiencing a loss of smell or taste, says Yan. “It’s really being used as a good screening question and in helping triage patients.”

The good news is that both Yan and Steves have found that people who lose their sense of smell or taste tend to experience a milder course of the disease. Yan says patients generally recover these senses in two to four weeks on average.


Confusion and gastrointestinal issues: Stavropoulou’s review of the medical literature found that, in most studies, gastrointestinal issues were reported in fewer than 10% of mild cases of COVID-19.

But Steves says emerging data from the COVID Symptom Tracker suggest that problems like diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain tend to be more prominent in the frail elderly — people who are over 70 and need help to get around. Acute confusion also seems to be an important symptom in this group, she says.

“Older and frailer and more co-morbid people” — those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity — “tend to be getting this cluster of abdominal symptoms and delirium symptoms and headache as well,” Steves says.

She says it’s important for caregivers to recognize that these symptoms in the frail elderly could be indicative of COVID-19, particularly in situations like nursing homes, “because that’s where spread could occur.”


“COVID toes” and other skin manifestations: Dermatologists are now reporting that certain skin conditions appear to be emerging as symptoms of infection in milder cases. Among the most common — and striking — is “COVID toes,” a condition resembling chilblains, or pernio, on the feet or toes, says Dr. Esther Freeman, director of global health dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the international Dermatology COVID-19 Registry. The registry has received more than 400 reports from dermatologists in 21 countries, and a little under half are cases of COVID toes, she says.

Normally with chilblains, “you would see pink, red or purple lesions on the toes or sometimes on the hands,” Freeman says. “That’s often accompanied by swelling and can also be accompanied by a burning, itching or tender sensation,” she says.

Chilblains are caused by inflammation in the small blood vessels of the skin, usually in reaction to colder temperatures or damp weather, Freeman says. “So, for example, spending a lot of time outside in wet socks could do it.”

What’s unusual is that during the coronavirus pandemic, “we’re seeing patients who are living in warm climates or patients who have been sheltering inside and staying warm developing these lesions for the first time,” she says.

“I have seen more toe consults in the past two weeks than I have in my entire prior career combined,” Freeman says.

She says some patients develop COVID toes early on, along with other symptoms such as fever or cough. Others develop the condition well after their other symptoms have passed, almost like a post-viral response. And a third category of patients seems to develop COVID toes as the sole symptom.

Other skin conditions reported include hives and morbilliform, a measles-like rash on the chest, back, arms or legs. Freeman notes that viruses — for example, those that cause measles or chickenpox — often cause rashes, so dermatologists were expecting that with the coronavirus. But the toe manifestations were surprising.

While data are still emerging, Freeman says that in her opinion, dermatologic symptoms, such as COVID toes, should be considered as criteria for testing. But if you’re having these symptoms, she says, “Please don’t panic. Most of our patients who are developing these COVID toes are doing extremely well and are able to recover fully at home.”

“I think it’s also important to know that the purple lesions will go away on their own,” she adds.

Author: Maria Goody

The information from this article appears on NPR

Why are “they” acting this way? Psychological Tips in the “New Normal”

The future isn’t predictable right now. We are living in a time of transition and many of us are reeling from the rapid changes occurring. In the roundtable forums I facilitate for business owners and executives, the participants talk about the various responses they observe from employees – some are in denial, others angry, still others depressed and some happy to be working virtually. 

One CEO of a manufacturing operation expressed concern last week in our meeting because his once engaged workforce seems to be going through the motions and making “mindless” mistakes along the way. “They don’t want to be accountable,” he added. His view is that employees should feel fortunate they have a job when so many people don’t. When he asks some of his key managers what the pulse of the organization is, they report that some of the employees think he’s fortunate because they are showing up.

Some things aren’t predictable. Human behavior often is. What is the psychology of people’s responses to the pandemic and its effects? How can understanding it help you be a better leader? Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Grief offers us a good model to help better understand some of the internal changes that we and others may be experiencing. 

Kubler-Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist that worked with many dying patients. She based her model on her observations of how the patients and their families responded to grief; she outlines five stages in her now classic book, On Death and Dying. These are:

Stage 1: Denial of the situation – can involve avoidance, confusion, shock or fear

Stage 2: Anger with what’s happening or those seen as responsible – can involve frustration, irritation, anxiety or insubordination

Stage 3: Bargaining or struggling to find the meaning of what is occurring – can involve an urgency to make a deal to resolve things, regret, or guilt

Stage 4: Depression – can involve feeling overwhelmed, helpless, hostility or isolated

Stage 5: Acceptance – can involve calmness or feeling at peace, exploring options, curiosity about what might come next or increased comfort with the unknown.

Although the stages appear linear, people don’t necessarily go through all of them or in the same order. Productivity tends to remain high when a person is in denial and begins to dip if anger sets in. In the bargaining stage, productivity goes down as the person attempts to make deals or exchanges to resolve things and get back to normal. Many organizations furloughing employees may witness the bargaining stage as employees plead to do x, y, and z in order to keep working. Depression is tough to address as it can range from mild and situational to severe and long-term. Depressed people aren’t productive and have a hard time concentrating. At the acceptance stage, people are more willing to accept the “new normal” and even participate in visioning the future.

Take some time to be aware of your own internal response to the crisis. Is it clouding how you communicate and engage with others? If you identified the stage you are in and you are working with someone in a different one, how will you communicate differently? In my next blog, I will discuss some communication strategies to help you enhance your communication during this potentially stressful time.

Written by Mary Key, Ph.D.


A New Compensation Committee Game Plan.


“Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has the global
economy been under so much pressure. While there are echoes
of the financial collapse of 2008, the economic pain from the
current pandemic is far wider and deeper. Fissures have formed
in entire industry sectors and millions of employees have been
terminated or furloughed. And yet the biggest casualties of
this crisis are the tens of thousands of people who have lost
their lives, and the hundreds of thousands more who have
been hospitalized.

Given these unprecedented times,
corporations around the world have
acted in unprecedented ways. They have
found ways to create new virtual work
arrangements for large segments of their
workforce. They have kept employee
well-being at the top of their priority list.
They have found new ways to stay
connected to and interact with
their customers.

But the crisis has also taken its toll on the
workforce beyond the obvious impact
of the health crisis. Companies have been
forced to shut down large portions of
their operations, if not close their doors
altogether. And, as a result, millions of
people have been subject to furloughs,
job cuts, or hefty pay reductions.
Amid this turmoil, executive
compensation has naturally come under
an even brighter spotlight than usual.

Many CEOs and senior executives in the
companies hardest hit by the COVID-19
crisis have announced significant pay
reductions of their own, and others will
likely follow suit. Cutting pay for
executives is a visible and potentially
necessary step in stabilizing some
companies as they manage through the
crisis. It sends a positive message to both
employees and shareholders, and could
enhance, or at least limit the tarnishing of,
the company’s reputation. While some
outside observers have heralded these
early actions, others have opined that
they are too few and too limited.”


Korn Ferry has organized a committee of executive leaders who have formulated an actionable Game Plan in the form of a visually stimulating and professional version of a whitepaper, ultimately highlighting useful suggestions for leadership behaviors during times of unprecedented crisis. Their guidance is not only sincere and genuine, but all information presented is undoubtedly provided by experienced professionals.

To discover all their tips and advice, it is highly recommended to download and read the entire Korn Ferry whitepaper. See link below:

View Here


Don Lowman
Global Leader Rewards & Benefits

Irv Becker
Vice Chairman, Executive Pay & Governance

Todd McGovern
Senior Client Partner, Executive Pay & Governance

Kurt Groeninger
Senior Principal, Executive Pay & Governance

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with organizations to design their organizational structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop, and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.



The government has recently announced financial support for employers/employees and selfemployed individuals whose businesses are unable to operate during the coronavirus lockdown subject to certain conditions. This update sets out the main details of each scheme.


Corona Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – furlough leave
The CJRS provides support to employers whose employees are unable to work because the business is unable to operate due to the coronavirus lockdown. For example, restaurants, retail and leisure which were closed by government order.

The CJRS enables employers to be reimbursed for 80% of employees’ wages subject to a
maximum cap of £2,500 per month (plus employers’ national insurance and minimum auto enrolment pension contribution) provided employees were employed before 19 March 2020 (previously 1 March but changed on 15 April 2020).

Employers can choose to pay the additional 20% of wages (which will not be reimbursed) but there is no obligation to do so

How do Employers apply?

To qualify, employers have to put employees on ‘furlough leave’, i.e leave of absence due to
the (temporary) shutdown of the business. Employees cannot do any work for their employer while they are on furlough leave, so employees on reduced or shortened hours would not qualify.

Employees have to agree to furlough leave but, as the alternative could be redundancy,
employees will most likely agree. Under the CJRS, the furlough leave agreement must be in writing and also as the 20% wages reduction and absence leave is a variation to the employee’s contract. The minimum period of furlough leave is 3 weeks and it is possible to rotate staff if some work is available.

Once the employees are on furlough leave then the employer pays their 80% wages in the
normal payroll with the tax and NI deductions (on 80%) and then applies for reimbursement from the government through an online portal system due to be available by the end of April.

The government has suggested that if employers cannot afford to pay the employees, they will be able to do so through the Government Loan Scheme.

The online portal is administered by HMRC using existing PAYE records. Claims can be
backdated to 1 March provided employees were unable to work during this period.
© Grower Freeman 2020

Does it apply to all employees?

Yes, all employees are covered including full-time, part-time and zero hours workers provided they are on PAYE. Agency staff on PAYE can be furloughed by their agency. Employees who were made redundant in February 2020 and now before 19 March due to the corona virus can be reinstated and claims backdated to 1 March.

From the latest HMRC guidance, employees on sick leave can be furloughed and vice versa. However, this should not be abused by using furlough pay to top up small amounts of SSP for short term absences

Employees on maternity leave do not qualify but are still entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.

What happens at the end of the three-month scheme?

Depending on the state of the business, employers can either retain the employees, putting them back on full wages or make them redundant. It is also possible to make employees redundant while on furlough leave. However, the furlough scheme is intended to avoid redundancies during the lockdown period and hopefully save jobs.

Can employees do any other work whilst on Furlough Leave?

Employees cannot do any paid work either for their employer or any other employer unless
there is an existing agreement. They can do voluntary work (unpaid) and, if the employe
requires them to do training during furlough leave, then they are entitled to be paid the
national minimum/ living wage.

Statutory Sick Pay For anyone suffering from Covid-19 or who are self-isolating or shielding others, SSP will be paid on the first day of absence rather than the fourth day. Small to medium sized employers will also be reimbursed for the full amount of SSP rather than having to pay it themselves.

SSP is minimal – £95.85 per week from 6th April. There is, however, now the option to furlough staff instead, if appropriate

SSP only applies to employees but self-employed people can also make a claim for universal credit or contributory employment and support allowance.

Holiday Leave

The Working Time Regulations have been amended to allow employees/ workers to carry over four weeks of holiday leave to the next two leave years if it was not reasonably practicable to use holiday leave due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The government rescue package for the self-employed (individuals and members of a
partnership) comprises the following:

  • A new self-employed income support scheme will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly income, capped at £2,500 per month © Grower Freeman 2020
  • Income will be calculated by taking the average of income over the last three years from HMRC records.
  • Self-employed people can claim these grants and continue to work in their business (so it is not the same as furlough leave where employees are unable to work for their employer).
  • The scheme is only open to those with trading profits of up to £50k and who make the majority of their income from self-employment.
  • It only applies to those who have submitted a Tax Return for 2019 (this is to minimise fraud).
  • However, those who have only just set up a business or who did not submit their Tax Return by 31.01.2020 can still submit a Tax Return for 2019 for a further four weeks from 26th March 2020.

How do Self-Employed people apply for this?

The scheme will not be up and running until the end of June. Unlike the CJRS no application is required. Instead, HMRC will contact eligible self-employed people directly inviting them to fill out an online form and, if approved, will then pay the grant direct into their bank account. Similar to the CJRS, the scheme will only be open for three months from 1st March to end of June but, as it will not be in operation until the end of June, it is not going to provide immediate support

Other help for the self-employed

Tax payments due on 31st July 2020 can be put back to 31st January 2021 and VAT Returns can be deferred to 31st March 2021.


The government’s financial support packages during the coronavirus lockdown and the speed with which they have been introduced is unprecedented but these are unprecedented times. It remains to be seen how the schemes will work in practice. Various legal issues have already been addressed in the government’s latest guidance updates and doubtless, more will follow

Website links:

Contact details:

This update was produced by Tessa Fry, Head of Employment at Grower Freeman. For further information or advice, please contact Tessa Fry at -or- 020 7563 5477.

Disclaimer – This update is intended to provide readers with information on recent legal developments. It should not be construed as legal advice or guidance on a particular matter.

Publisher/Author Info:

Grower Freeman
Ivor House
25-26 Ivor Place
London NW1 6HR
T: +44 (0)20 7723 30

To View Original Published PDF by Tessa Fry of Grower Freeman, Click HERE

Tessa Fry On The Radio Again

Tessa Fry, our employment law specialist was recently interviewed on Resonance FM discussing furlough leave and other government support for employers, employees and the self-employed due to the corona virus lockdown.  The interview starts 35 minutes in.

Do tune in.