Building Organizational Resiliency in the Time of COVID-19

by | Apr 22, 2020 | General, COVID-19

Building Organizationla Resiliency in the Time of COVID-19

The rapid spread of COVID-19 all over the world has surprisingly overshadowed other recent epidemics in both size and scope. With the deadly global human toll and the disruption of millions of people’s lives, the economic damage alone of the pandemic is already extensive. 

During this time of challenging uncertainty, business leaders around the globe are already concerned about the effect of COVID-19 to their companies. As such, the COVID-19 outbreak has now become the litmus test case for good and bad business leadership. 

A leader’s primary responsibility is to their stakeholders. They have a responsibility to keep their employees safe, cohesive, and productive.

Regardless of the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on the organization, resilient leadership will distinguish successful executives as they guide their firm towards the global health crisis.

The black swan crisis that is COVID-19

James Heskett, an academic from the Harvard Business School, has recently called COVID-19 a black swan crisis. Black swan events are unforeseen or unpredictable crises that often have extreme consequences. It often has multinational, if not a global impact. 

A black swan crisis like COVID-19 cannot be avoided. However, organizations can prepare and respond to it effectively in cases when it does occur.

Deloitte noted that a typical crisis plays out on over three timeframes:

  •   Respond Phase: The company deals with the present situation and manages business continuity.
  •   Recover Phase: The company learns and emerges stronger from the crisis.
  •   Thrive Phase: The company prepares for and shapes the “next normal” for its stakeholders. 

Organizations need resilient leaders to take the necessary steps that will help mitigate the effects of black swan events like COVID-19 to the firm.

They have a responsibility to consider all three timeframes concurrently and allocate resources accordingly. With the right approach, this crisis can become an opportunity to move forward and provide more value to their stakeholders. 

It can even have a positive societal impact on the organization, rather than just bouncing back from the status quo. 

Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, noted several leadership actions that business leaders all over the world can emulate to help the company be resilient amidst the COVID-19 outbreak:

LEADERSHIP ACTION 1: Create a central and clear list of priorities.

The organization’s top management needs to set out a clear list of priorities and then cascade them to their local managers with a high degree of autonomy. In times of crisis, an overly centralized decision making body hinders the firm’s ability to respond promptly and do their tasks effectively. 

An effective leader empowers their managers to make the best decisions they can in times of crisis, while at the same time keeping in mind the firm’s priorities. A clear, hierarchical list of priorities is essential to avoid disruptions that inevitably leads to an overload of contradictory information.

By keeping the organization’s priorities clear and implementing those priorities locally with a high degree of decentralized decision making, the organization will be able to respond to emerging events appropriately.

LEADERSHIP ACTION 2: Pursue a nonbinary approach to problem-solving.

There are always other options besides “yes or no” or “do it and don’t do it” if the organization is creative enough with their problem-solving skills. Encouraging teams to be creative and nonbinary about how they solve critical problems in a crisis can create lasting cohesion and consistency. It will also make employees more productive as they help deal with stressed-out customers and stakeholders. 

LEADERSHIP ACTION 3: Be honest and empathetic.

The organization needs to learn how to hone an honest, clear, and empathetic approach when it comes to its messaging during the COVID-19 crisis. Remember to relay information from trusted sources only.

Communicating well also means that the firm is staying calm and collected by not being a victim of panic or hype. The organization should be able to relay clear actions for what to do and when to do it.

LEADERSHIP ACTION 4: Record the stories and capture simple achievements.

Collect notable stories of teams coming together to overcome the adversity caused by COVID-19. These stories matter. Capture the details of these stories and give those people the recognition they deserve. Even something as mundane as employees going above and beyond to set up a VPN system or hilarious anecdotes from conference calls can serve as inspiration from people doing remote work. 

Leadership Lessons and Best Practices from the COVID-19 Outbreak

Leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart compiled a list of leadership lessons and best practices that organizations can learn from when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis:

LESSON 1: Lean on the organization’s culture.

In times of uncertainty, it is always advisable to lean on the organization’s culture as a compass for decision-making. Notable organizations have responded to the COVID-19 outbreak with agility, and most especially with empathy. For example, organizations can learn from their collaborative culture to effectively transition to doing remote work.

LESSON 2: ALWAYS communicate.

The uncertainty that is exacerbated by a sudden influx of information, even disinformation, from all directions can cause a great deal of confusion and anxiety to the firm’s stakeholders. Cut through the noise by providing a clear communication plan that anticipates all the questions that people will have with the company. 

Organizations need to remember that their actions in times of crisis will speak for them. Usually, the firm often focuses on what they say and communicate. But in times of crisis, it’s also essential to learn how to listen. Listening is an important aspect of crisis communication. It will help the firm understand people’s concerns and fears and help give light to issues and ideas.

LESSON 3: Observe how the firm is managing talent.

The transition to remote work revealed the typical scenarios on how working and managing people can be improved. The COVID-19 outbreak has enabled organizations to reassess their standard ways of doing work – from supply chain processes to the structure of team meetings. These things are sometimes overlooked under normal circumstances.

LESSON 4: Don’t forget about employee engagement.

There have been countless studies that showed the impact of loneliness and isolation on the human psyche. Daily interactions with coworkers have been interrupted due to the lockdown and quarantine.

It’s essential to keep employees engaged even while they are doing work at home. Simple tasks such as video calls and virtual coffee chats among team members can reduce the sense of disconnectedness that employees feel when working remotely. 

LESSON 5: Don’t let short-term plans hinder long-term strategy.

A rapid response plan is crucial when it comes to dealing with a global health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. However, organizations need to make sure that their short-term plans do not undermine long-term brand equity and strategy. It is essential that organizations still remember their core values and brand mission amidst all the uncertainty that was brought by COVID-19.

LESSON 6: Revisit the firm’s digital readiness.

Organizations had most likely put digital transformation as an ongoing agenda item for the past few years. This time around, the COVID-19 crisis, has only amplified its importance. Triggering a faster pace to go fully digital, the pandemic has shown that investing in the right digital capabilities is essential to be fully prepared for a black swan crisis like COVID-19.

LESSON 7: Reconsider how decisions are made.

Leaders from both the public and private sectors have witnessed the shift in terms of how decisions were made and by whom during the COVID-19 outbreak. Companies will typically have a centralized leadership. However, since the outbreak varies per region, this posed an operational challenge from companies with multi-regional operations. 

Organizations need to adapt in different ways. Thus, decentralized management control and decision making are essential. This will allow local executives to make the best locally based decision as much as possible. In times of crisis, organizations need to rethink and reassess their processes to be able to adapt to a crisis effectively. 

Sysgen RPO is here to help you navigate the uncertainties of recruitment during a crisis.

Amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak, Sysgen RPO is here to be your trusted recruitment partner. We can help your firm craft an effective recruitment strategy with our top-notch recruitment solutions.

With our fast and efficient recruitment capabilities, we can help your firm boost your company’s hiring engagements even during an unpredictable health crisis. Discover the Sysgen RPO difference and contact us now to learn more.



COVID-19: Early Leadership Lessons from Executives in China. (2020). Retrieved April 12, 2020, from

Heskett, J. (2020). What Are Lessons for Leaders from This Black Swan Crisis?. HBS Working Knowledge. Retrieved April 12, 2020, from

Mesaglio, M. (2020, March 19). 4 Actions to Be a Strong Leader During COVID-19 Disruption. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from

Renjen, P. (2020). The heart of resilient leadership: Responding to COVID-19. Deloitte Insights. Retrieved April 12, 2020, from




Jo Rebustillo


Jo started her recruitment career in 2007. Since then, she has worked with several RPO and BPO companies in different capacities. She has worked as a Recruiter covering requisitions in US, AU, EU and APAC handling volume, non-IT and IT. She has led several teams as a Recruitment Manager, Account Manager, Service Delivery and Business Development. She has also led teams in different industries such as Media and Advertising, IT, Outsourcing, BPO, Manufacturing, Military, Healthcare and Sciences. She has built teams based on their strengths and developed leaders with strong ethical values as well as aiming to beat the average. She strongly believes in integrity, strive for growth, persistence and kindness as hallmarks of a successful person and company.

Nikita Magpantay


Niki is a dynamic human resource professional with a focus on talent acquisition and HR business partnership, bringing her extensive expertise gained over 6 years. She is a versatile Recruiter specializing in diverse sectors including technical, banking and finance, logistics, sales, healthcare, and volume hiring. Niki, as an experienced HR Business Partner has proven success in aligning HR initiatives with business objectives, contributing to organizational growth. She seeks to foster positive employee relations and implementing effective engagement initiatives and business strategies while ensuring adherence to labor policies. Adept at combining a friendly demeanor with a dedicated result-oriented approach helps her bring a unique blend of empathy and strategic acumen to the workplace.

Intejar “Ram” Julkiram


With 9 years of background in RPO, Ram is adept at managing and optimizing the recruitment process for clients, ensuring a seamless and efficient experience. His skills include a deep understanding of both the IT and non-IT industries, enabling him to provide tailored recruitment solutions for the team.

Shara Jane Bonifacio


Shara Bonifacio boasts a rich and diverse career spanning more than 10 years within various industries in recruitment. As a highly skilled and effective communicator adept at engaging with people across multiple platforms, her passion lies in building lasting relationships. She excels not only in connecting with candidates but also in fostering strong ties with clients and stakeholders.

Throughout her career in industries such as Financial Services, Insurance Brokerage, Information Technology, Pharmaceutical, and Healthcare, Shara has showcased her results-driven mindset. Her penchant for challenges motivates her to continuously strive for excellence and growth.

Shara's leadership experience is a testament to her ability to guide and inspire teams, ensuring collective success and achieving organizational goals.

Evangeline “Gigi” Tilaon


Gigi, an inspiring leader, possesses nearly 5 years of expertise in the art of Talent Acquisition and boasts a distinguished 15-year legacy of visionary leadership. She is renowned for her unwavering dependability and boundless supportiveness, qualities that radiate through every endeavor she undertakes. Gigi's leadership style is characterized by remarkable transparency and hands-on engagement, underlined by a profound trust in her team's exceptional talents. She confronts challenges with fearless determination, inspiring her team to achieve greatness. As a passionate outdoor enthusiast and a nurturing fur parent, Gigi advocates for a work-life equilibrium with extraordinary grace and enthusiasm.

Randy Owen Roman


Randy brings extensive experience in the recruitment industry, spanning over 5 years. During his tenure, he has successfully managed a diverse portfolio of clients across multiple sectors, including IT, Financial, Retail, Light Industrial, BPO, Market Intelligence, and Healthcare. Randy is passionate about the outdoors and finds joy in activities like hiking and exploring nature. Equally, he appreciates the arts, indulging in music, movies, and series. As a leader, Randy exemplifies fairness and empowerment, consistently guiding and inspiring his team to surpass expectations.

Avielle Bernardino


Avielle, with 7 years of Healthcare Recruitment, is not just a leader. She is a mentor and an architect of streamlined offshore program planning. She has an innate ability to optimize processes, ensuring they align seamlessly with our clients' and program-defined standards. She empowers her peers, nurturing exceptional performance and maintaining a high level of service quality. This dedication to efficiency has set a new benchmark within our organization. She actively participates in strategic planning initiatives, driving a culture of continuous improvement. This proactive approach ensures we stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.

Kris Florblanco


Kris, with over six years in IT Recruitment and three years of team leadership, is known for dependability and supportiveness. Transparent and hands-on, she places trust in her team. An outdoor enthusiast, Kris faces challenges head-on to keep her team up and running.

Grace Marasigan


Grace, an empowering leader with six years in Talent Acquisition, is passionate about innovation and improvement. Balancing work quality and agility across various industries, her compassionate approach extends to her personal life as a committed vegan.

Ly Poticar


Ly brings 2 decades of expertise in the Recruitment and Staffing industry, covering various business verticals in both local and global recruitment. He has successfully led growth projects for SMBs and offshore expansion initiatives for Shared Services and other global enterprises. He seeks to continuously evolve his recruitment practices and client partnership agenda to provide innovative solutions and be a step ahead of the market trends. Ly has recruitment experience in the talent market for the following majors, as well as emerging industries: Tech – hardware/software/mobile/consulting/Web3, Online Gaming & Media, Digital Marketing, Finance – corporate/banking and fintech, Construction & Engineering, Energy, BPO, Manufacturing & Logistics.

Lara Belo


Lara brings a decade of invaluable experience in the field of IT recruitment, catering to diverse and niche IT roles. With adeptness in team management, she has led successful recruitment teams. She guides her team in effectively sourcing, tailoring recruitment strategies, and connecting top-tier IT professionals with optimal career opportunities nationwide.

Her extensive background in business development and client relations has not only led to the acquisition of new accounts that have expanded over time but also positioned her as a trusted partner for numerous clients.

Ezalyn Caberto


Eza is an accomplished RPO leader. She has a proven experience in building and leading high-performance recruitment teams.

Eza is also experienced and active in offshore RPO's management, recruiting, and consulting aspects. She has implemented several successful offshore recruiting accounts that have grown over time.

Eza is also a successful mentor who has produced budding leaders in her field. As a mentor, she has a strong focus on supporting emerging millennial team players.

Candy Poblete


Candy has been an HR Practitioner for 10 years. Her extensive experience in managing end-to-end HR facets came from various industries. She’s a champion in handling employee relations and labor relations. As a strategic thinker, she is adept at aligning HR policies and practices with the company’s goals and objectives, safeguarding the organization from legal complications, and providing employees with a secure and fair environment.

Anna Katrina Roa


Katrina, a De La Salle University graduate with a BSC in Accounting, plays a vital role in maintaining the company's financial health. She generates reports, manages budgets, and oversees the accounting department.

With over two (2) decades of experience in the recruitment industry, she is well-versed in its financial dynamics. Her expertise allows her to adeptly address the unique financial needs of recruitment businesses, making her an invaluable asset to the organization.

Jimmy P. Roa


Jimmy is a business executive in the field of BPO, RPO, IT Staffing, Technical Recruiting, Virtual Recruiting, Remote Staffing, and CAD Outsourcing. Having been involved in these industries for the past 30 years, Jimmy knows what works and what doesn’t. Aside from being the CEO of Sysgen RPO, he is also CEO of Sysgen – an IT Staffing firm which he founded in 1991.

Keen to working with clients who are willing to practice the “One-team Concept”, Jimmy has been mainly responsible in growing the Sysgen Group to what it is now.

He believes that clients are partners and that a true alliance is essential in achieving overall goals of cost savings and process improvement.