Crisis Cruising – an Extreme Sport?

The crisis is the most blessed situation that may occur for countries and persons alike, because it leads to evolution. It’s during crisis that great inventions, discoveries and strategies are born. Without crisis there is no struggle, without struggle life is a tedious routine, an irksome agony. Without crisis there is no value”  ~ Albert Einstein

Life is shifting around us, inside and through us, in a surprising, unpredictable way.  After the consumerist frenzy of recent years, the stunning growth rates, overall enthusiasm and boom investments, suddenly the public agenda gave rise to austerity, bankruptcy and economic recession.

The signs were so visible making it needless to say the real estate market is in decline, the stock exchange and bank industry faltering, salaries frozen and vacant jobs scarce, with everyone trying to survive, while daring development plans delayed sine die.

Nevertheless, alongside the obvious drawbacks, we can view the crisis from a different vantage point, as the perfect opportunity to rethink the values and work ethics, from the compensation perspective of what is gained when something else is lost.

7 Ways to Boost Self-Awareness and Business Ethics in Crisis

What do the bold ones defying crisis have in common? It’s a winning vision, a style of thinking that favors the following 7 advantages that crisis brings along:

1. Well-being redefined

People tend to enhance awareness as to the impact on their subjective wellbeing of factors outside the professional area. Therefore, they pay more attention to family life, education, fun and leisure, personal development and care.

2. Enhanced solidarity and reliability

The external threat creates inner cohesion, a vivid solidarity inside families, organizations and other social groups. Thus, people are prone to see the others as partners, allies on a shared mission. Employees’ loyalty, commitment and responsibility towards the employer all increase, as they treat work assignments in a professional, irreproachable manner.

3. Rationality and self-control as antidote to panic

Panic is the spoilt child of crisis. Dwelling on uncertainty, instability and deficit of trustworthy information in all walks of life, panic nourishes parallel, informal communication channels that lead to suspicion and a breach of confidence. Panic exploits vulnerabilities and plagues entire communities, because it is highly contagious, spreading like wildfire. There’s arguably enough truth in the old saying that nothing travels faster that bad news.

When panic strikes, even the soundest, healthiest economies are in danger, on grounds of the incontrollable chain reaction that exhausts the vital infusion of capital, despite consistent financial provisions. Propagated rumors trigger panic and the volatile market reacts accordingly, very fast. For example, the loss of a key account customer is devastating in terms of cash flow, especially for niche industries that rely on a few clients.

But the bold ones look at crisis in a thankful manner. Crisis teaches us (‘the hard way’, unfortunately) to be more prudent and make wiser, more deliberate decisions. To refrain from over-rating potential benefits and under-evaluating ensuing risks. It’s a lesson on moderation and rationality that helps us avoid panic reactions.

4. Employers choose fresh input

Because they realize that the economic crisis will eventually be over, companies adjust their corporate culture, as well as their recruitment and retention strategies, to attract the new generation of leaders. The rising “generation Y” or Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are the object of intense courtship, especially because of the shortage in qualified work force and the decline in birth rates in developed countries.

The Y Generation is sensitive to employers of choice that promote their career offers across online communities (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). Unlike Baby Boomers and the X Generation, today’s youngsters expect a greater emphasis on work-life balance, as well as ongoing support as training, mentorship and coaching.

5. Sustainable success and managerial responsibility

Economic crisis translates in a re-consideration of sustainable success and humanitarian values in the human resources and occupational health strategy. The flow of activities leaves way to long-term reflection and revisiting of key issues. Therefore, the essential positive traits that people possess become the most valuable asset of the organization: vitality, energy, skills, motivation and ideas.

Managers learn how to handle uncertainty and avoid errors such as crisis denial, refusal to understand the new context in terms of risks and benefits, dysfunctional coping, toxic team behavior (secrecy, diffused responsibility, learnt helplessness – the feeling someone else needs to take over, because you can’t handle challenges).

6. Innovation at work

A crisis context provides a fertile field for inquisitive minds to develop insightful innovation. With cost efficiency and productivity optimization as essential objectives, now is the right time to come up with resourceful new approaches and revolutionary technological enhancement. Crisis practically forces us forward; we venture into unknown territory to proactively look for prospective competitive advantages to set us apart from the crowd and render us more persuasive, more successful.

7. Business ethics and social capital

Business ethics become a priority because profitability is significantly linked to a sound reputation on the market. Customer orientation is a must, as the world shrinks, everyone has access to information and corporations seek approval and confirmation through positive feedback not only from shareholders, but also on behalf of stakeholders.

These decision makers are the diversity of people who influence, in one way or another, business operations: employees, suppliers, policy makers, the media, lobby groups, the local communities where corporations operate.

Organizations seek social capital as guaranteed investment for a healthy future. Hence their interest in corporate social responsibility. CSR initiatives, be them educational, social or environmental initiatives boost people’s appreciation and trust in the respective company.

These are actually the building blocks for development, with a remarkable return on investment.

How do you look at the economic crisis in our days? Share your viewpoints in the comments below!


Mara Stan is an organizational psychologist, a PhD student, former HR recruitment specialist for a retail multinational company, now a work-at-home mother. Her areas of interest are career counseling, work life balance, & volunteering.


  1. carrieoki on the 23rd February

    Enjoyed your post. Part of my current life situation is a microcosm of all that you describe. Just recharged my batteries after getting over the upset I felt about a current political candidate’s ideas. There is advantage to this mini-crisis on so many levels–some of which are: finding great new resources on the Internet, refining current systems for more efficient action, collaborating with new groups of people, expanding my personal growth, contributing to the education of others, strengthening my passion for political involvement, and helping the economy–e.g., political financial contributions.

Add a Comment