The move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 this week has created a new set of questions as employers consider how to increase or restart operations, or decide what other actions they need to take.
The New Zealand Workforce Returns
The past two weeks has seen much of New Zealand's workforce return to work as others prepare for a return at Level 2. The economic impacts and realities resulting from COVID-19 are now being quickly translated into revised budgets and forecasts.
The initial reaction is to change staffing levels and business structures before the wage subsidies run out. But is that always the best decision for the longer-term interests of a business?
2020 Recruitment Challenges
Pre COVID-19 there was a global skills shortage and recruiting in general faced significant challenges. Employers' brands and reputations were important in helping attract and retain staff. But with the uncertainty and future impacts of COVID-19, for some it could be only a short time before even more recruitment challenges arise.
Responding to Current Challenges
Key is understanding the breadth of risks and opportunities at a business level, including what services you an operate while giving full and careful consideration to your financials, supply chain, staffing and technology.
For some businesses it could be looking at different services or offerings to adapt to the market challenges. If you have a business advisor, this is what you could be working through with them.
Change, Change, Change
Good planning and analysis is what will help uncover whether changes to staffing levels need to be considered, and if so, whether that is for the short term, longer term or both.
Where changes are required, for example because of social distancing requirements or changes in business projections, there could be options or short term solutions other than simply looking to disestablish roles in haste.
These changes include agreed variations to hours of work and pay, changes to scopes of roles, reducing leave liabilities, unpaid leave, creative solutions, as well as looking at ways the Wage Subsidy could continue to help support your business.
Consultation & Communication
Consultation and communication are critical when considering change. Beside the legal basis for these processes, consulting and communicating are also critical to helping maintain productivity, engagement and most importantly, your employer / brand reputation!
At the same time as managing change, employers are having to consider a return to operations. This includes how work is performed, where it's performed, and whether ‘at risk’ employees can safely return. For those who are only returning in the next week they may have had up to eight weeks' remote working or absence.
During the lockdown and levels 3 and 4, new routines and habits will have been formed. And, upon return to the workplace, staff may still be concerned about the health of themselves or others in their bubble. Therefore, there will likely be a resettling period with the potential for ongoing flexible working options to be discussed and considered.
Re-Engaging & Looking Forward
How you re-engage your staff and ensure they're clear on expectations looking forward, while also considering the impacts of the past weeks, are all challenges ahead for employers.
Taking the opportunity to engage with staff and understanding if they can return to the workplace, listening to what has worked and not worked, and considering their well-being in general, will all help in restarting your operations, and deciding how your business could operate into the future.
For now, it could be as simple as re-grouping and resetting expectations, with social distancing and other safe working practices clearly communicated and adhered to. For staff who remain away from the workplace, it could be about looking again at what interim adjustments could be made.
We're Always Available
For help getting your staff back to work and your business fully operational, or managing at risk or troubled staff, get in touch with us on email@example.com or 06 878 5454. Also, please keep in mind that Grow HR is a registered provider for the Regional Business Partner COVID-19 funding scheme.