Family-owned business display ‘resilience’ through Covid, report shows

by Rachel Darcy

A new report has shown that Irish family-owned businesses have demonstrated ‘resilience and a strong commitment to continuity’ through the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new report from Dublin City University’s National Centre for Family Business shows that despite 83% of CEOs reporting their business to be negatively impacted by Covid-19, Irish family businesses have shown resilience and a strong commitment to carrying on during the pandemic.

A number of difficult measures were taken by family businesses to ensure their company’s survival, such as salary reductions, temporary layoffs, and reduced hours, as detailed in the report.

Despite this, the research shows that trustworthy leaders have fared better over the last year, particularly those who demonstrated concern for employee well-being during the crisis.

‘Surviving a Crisis as a Family Business’ marks the first all-island study of family business practice, including businesses from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It captures the experiences of over 250 participants from a broad range of sectors and insight into the realities they’ve been facing in their respective industries.

Some of the findings of the report include:

  • 83% of CEOs report their business will be negatively impacted by COVID-19
  • 79% experienced a negative impact on company sales and 63% on company production
  • 98% of CEOs report that the pandemic will change their business model going forward
  • Key concerns for family business CEOs over the next six-month period include: Loss of revenue (96%), insufficient cash flow (85%) and possible loss of family control of the business (25%)
  • Measures family businesses had taken, or planned to take, to minimise the threat of the pandemic include: temporary layoffs 47% and permanent layoffs 28%; Reduced working hours 53% and shift to remote working 55%

Those surveyed also spoke about several factors they believed to have contributed to their company’s survival, including:

  • Innovation and adaptation has been key for many, with 98% of CEOs reporting that the pandemic will change their business model going forward.
  • A resilient mindset and a commitment to continuity. Participants had learned from past challenges and setbacks and cited the survival of previous economic recessions, world wars, turbulent industry cycles as being a key source of strength during hard times.
  • Taking a Step Back: Family business leaders utilised business closure periods to evaluate the business through a strategic planning lens and long-term perspective.
  • Seeking Out Advice and Support: 81% of family businesses utilised governmental supports to offset the negative impact of the pandemic on the business and drew upon external expertise to minimise the threat of the pandemic. 32% reported using banking institution supports. 

Speaking at the launch of the report, author Dr. Catherine Faherty of DCU’s National Centre for Family Business, said: “This research shows that the family ownership structure can be an advantage during difficult economic times and while leaders are having to make tough business decisions with sparse information, those leaders who have been transparent with their teams and demonstrated a genuine concern for the treatment and well-being of their employees, have fared significantly better during the crisis.

“We hope that this report will provide useful, practical steps and tools for family businesses managing the current crisis and future crises in years to come.”

To view the full report, visit DCU National Centre for Family Business.

Related Articles