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opinion piece

BLOG – Future-proofing your workforce strategy in challenging times

By Ranjit de Sousa, President, LHH & Chair of WEC’s Career Management Group

Published on 7th September 2020

In the Covid-19 crisis, no business has remained untouched. While the level of impact has been different across sectors, they all face a similar reality: the “status quo theory”– the idea that the main parameters remain stable – has gone forever.

Governments have been quick to offer short-term relief to companies; however it is not a longer-term fix to unsustainable practices. The rising unpredictability of government interventions, the new demands to the workplace as well as the disrupted jobs markets are inducing deep changes in how to organise the workforce and keep resilience. Recruiting, onboarding, developing, or laying off employees needs new strategies – and the people aspect should lie at the heart of these strategies to maintain morale, attractiveness and agility.

The job markets are not standing still. The Adecco Group and CIPD’s latest UK Labour Market Outlook, announced that “the proportion of employers intending to make redundancies over the next three months has increased to 33%, rising 11% since Q2.” Similar developments are expected in most geographies, not at least where robust job protection schemes will come to an end around the end of the year. In this context, providing support to those in transition is gaining in importance. Not only has the number of jobs available dramatically diminished, but the labour markets are changing, requiring evolving skills sets.

According to a recent LHH survey, a quarter of HR leaders said that they were not handling redundancies and layoffs as well as they did before the Covid-19 outbreak. These concerns led to 88% of employees seeing their morale impacted, and 83% said it affected their productivity. 21% said that this resulted in them searching for a new job.

So, while not handling redundancies properly can impact the people leaving, it also has a significant impact on the business’s ability to retain talent and productivity in the future. According to an Aberdeen report, best-in-class companies are 2.5 times more likely to provide outplacement. Further, companies offering transition support are 81% more likely to shorten the time to fill key positions and so save on recruitment costs.

As career management firms, it is our mission to not only support the workers in transition, but also avoiding those in the future. Across the sectors we work with globally, we find that prioritising alternatives to lay-offs, investing in career orientation, connecting jobs to workers in transition and providing personal resilience support (including mental health) to employees significantly helps preserve long-term workforce strength.

Skills building, sustainable workforce strategies and managing transitions are today building business resilience for tomorrow and investing in workers’ employability has become part of the new social contract required for a sustainable workforce. The way businesses will integrate these practices will determine their chances of surviving – and outliving these unprecedented times of disruption. Career Management firms are here to help.

This post is the second in a series of blog contributions by members of the World Employment Confederation’s Career Management group exploring the value added of career management services to people, organisations and society, in particular in a world of work disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis.

WEC’s Career Management group was founded by leading global career management firms LHH, Randstad Risesmart, Right Management and Intoo and keeps expanding to national federations in countries like Belgium and Poland. For more information about WEC’s activities regarding Career Management, visit our dedicated webpage.

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