As powerless as we all feel, there’s plenty that franchise owners can do, says Sue Tumelty.
When McDonald’s announced closure of its hundreds of restaurants in Russia, as a protest against the war in Ukraine, the symbolism was significant.
It was a mark of the end of the Cold War when the golden arches first arrived in Moscow in 1990. More than three decades have passed since, with relative peace until the invasion.
However although McDonald’s is shut in both Russia and Ukraine for now, it is a sign of the enduring morality of the West that the chain has ensured its Ukrainian and Russian employees have remained fully paid.
And it’s proof that, even in troubled times, business can continue to be a force for good.
So how can your businesses provide support?
It’s important to remember that there are Ukrainian people all over the world, including in the UK. Many will have friends and family in their homeland and it is important to understand the stresses that they will be going through during this time.
Likewise, businesses which employ Russian people should also be aware of the impacts they may feel from what is going on. It’s really important that, while expressing solidarity with those suffering from the situation, you don’t discriminate against anyone in your employment.
Practicalities to offer help
No one will fail to be moved by the support that British people have offered to the people of Ukraine – funding, hospitality and donations – and these are all great ways of helping your staff feel that they have some agency in this conflict.
As an employer, Employee Assistance Programmes will help make sure that staff are able to overcome any issues and continue to work effectively and productively.
You may like to consider giving affected staff some leeway on their hours and deadlines, or relaxing policies around mobile phone usage so that they can keep in touch with family members.
All such measures will help affected staff manage their stress and anxiety, as well as providing relief for any employees who are bereaved.
Empower your managers
Policies and procedures are great for setting a tone of corporate support, but often the real work needs to be done person-to-person. This is where good management can come into the equation.
Any manager with team members who are likely to be affected by the conflict – be they Ukrainian, Russian, or with friends and family in relevant countries in Eastern Europe – should make sure they speak regularly to those staff. Let them know that they can air their concerns if they need to, and provide information and resources to the external help which exists.
Recognise the global implications
We have already seen some of the impacts of this conflict – rising fuel prices, a refugee crisis, uncertainty in international markets. However, wars have a way of sending long-lasting shockwaves throughout the global economy and one expects that the long-term ramifications of the invasion of Ukraine will be felt for some time.
As a business owner you should also be aware that this conflict is likely to affect your operations, with opportunities for employment and potential impacts on your turnover and profit.
As with any business advice, it is worth bearing the medium to long-term in mind, at the same time as supporting those affected by more immediate concerns.