Preserving jobs was a top priority for half (50%) of the South African organisations surveyed by Kaspersky on the challenges facing small and medium businesses (SMBs) at the beginning of the pandemic.

However, another top prioritised challenge was the introduction of new technologies to ensure the smooth running of business under these new circumstances (53%).

Studies show that business performance is directly impacted by employee satisfaction. During the pandemic, work satisfaction and engagement among employees became more crucial than ever before, especially for small businesses affected hard. A strong team is more likely to be resistant to the crisis and better able to cope through lockdown, risks of infection and uncertainty about the future.

As a result, team retention has become a priority for companies, even though many have faced budget cuts (45%), reduced pay or working hours (38%), or temporarily closed offices or branches (49%). The same holds true today, with 46% of organisations locally planning to increase personnel costs such as wages and benefits in the coming year. Bringing salaries up to the pre-Covid-2019 level or even increasing them should help businesses retain talent, negating the need for recruitment.

The preservation of jobs and employee satisfaction, among other factors, were dependent on how employers adapted to new and extreme working conditions. As such, a top priority for most organisations (53%) was to provide staff with new technologies, equipment, communication and collaboration services to switch business from offline to online and let employees work remotely or in a hybrid model.

“Reshaping working processes has become the crucial task for company owners and executives to save jobs and maintain their business,” says Andrey Dankevich, senior product marketing manager at Kaspersky. “Fortunately, there are many easy-to-manage services available, including free ones so they can do this even if they do not have a dedicated IT administrator or additional budget.

“However, it is important to ensure digital tools are used safely and to educate employees on security awareness – not only for their convenience, but to protect their business from cyberthreats,” he adds.