To understand more about the impact of COVID-19 on our clients and the local Brighton community, we have decided to ask them some questions.
This week we caught up with Loch Associates Group Managing Director and Solicitor Pam Loch. Loch Associates Group are experts in developing solutions to help organisations manage and look after their people. They provide a unique combination of employment law, HR, health & wellbeing and mediation expertise, ensuring clients have access to a range of services from a single, trusted partner.
- When did COVID-19 affect your business and was it immediate or gradual?
As a group of businesses who specialise in all areas of employment law, HR, health & safety, wellbeing and mediation this has provided us with a unique challenge. Some areas have been very busy, whilst others were unable to continue functioning. The impact on our Loch Health business was almost instant as our Mental Health First Aid training, for example, requires face-to-face engagement, as do our wellness checks. We had to postpone client training sessions until later in the year as well as furloughing some staff. One of our furloughed trainers (who is a qualified nurse) is currently back with the NHS working as an A&E nurse. Our other businesses had a noticeable increase in queries resulting in an increased workload to support clients with employment law advice and HR support , especially around the issues of furloughing staff, pay cuts and redundancies. On top of this we have also continued, as normal, to provide support to our clients involved in employment disputes.
- How did you communicate this impact with your team and clients?
We have communicated internally at our weekly staff video meetings as well as more formally by emails and individual team meetings. We have tried to make this time away from each other as fun as possible having virtual drinks on Friday evenings as well as early morning energiser session on Mondays. We have contacted all clients individually to check in with what support we can offer them regarding their own staff during this time. We have also increased our social media postings to provide regular updates and advice as well as sending out an electronic newsletter and updates to our clients and contacts.
- What decisions have you had to take in respect of your business?
The team are working remotely, and we are reviewing their workload regularly to ensure that the team remain busy and engaged. We are also reviewing our financial performance and making decisions about internal structures to ensure we maximise delivery of our services with internal efficiencies. We have taken this opportunity to review the way we are managing client relationships and identified some areas where we believe we can be even better.
- Have you accessed or will you be accessing any of the Government support schemes and grants?
We have accessed the Job Retention Scheme for three members of the team because of the downturn in activity in their roles and our Financial Controller is working hard to identify what support we need and when.
- Do you think the Government support goes far enough?
Our clients have welcomed the Job Retention Scheme as it is allowing them to avoid making redundancies. Some clients have however struggled to access the business loans scheme as they were refused by their banks.
- What effect will this pandemic have on your business in the long term?
We hope that our clients and contacts will appreciate the support we have given them during this difficult period and that they will decide to continue to work with us for many years to come. We may need to think about how we deliver our Loch Health services going forward if social distancing measures remain for some time.
- What decisions are being made now for when you are able to get back up and running?
We are looking at our office space and how to return safely whilst respecting the need for social distancing. We are also considering how we work with clients remotely and more effectively in terms of carrying out client meetings and reducing unnecessary travel to sites. We have also developed materials for clients to support their teams back to ‘normality’ addressing any challenges we can foresee.
- What tips can you give other businesses currently going through the crisis?
We have developed a few articles on our website which support clients through this time.
Author; Pam Loch, Managing Director & Solicitor @ Loch Associates
T- 01273 311 855
Date Published: 12 May 2020