With unemployment claims and the stress on supply chains jumping at astronomical rates over the last couple months it might appear that we are going through a doomsday scenario. In some ways we are undeniably going through an awful chapter – the growing number of sick and dying family, friends and colleagues is not something upon which we should/could ever put a dollar sign. That aspect in itself is one part of the new equation employers will begin to face when we start coming back to work. However, there are some ways that we can measure both on the business side as well as on the employee side – both sides tell an intriguing story and we shouldn’t ignore either of them after we attempt to get back to ‘normal’.
As we saw many businesses suffer through mandatory closing or limited openings it certainly showed some of the ways a business model could be destroyed. Conversely, it also showed ways we could expand our businesses into a new realm of providing for both our customers as well as our employees. Delivery and carry-out programs started becoming the go-to option for places that were considered sit-down fancy eateries. Suddenly, we are finding that where there is a need – a good business will learn how to fill it with their own goods and a new take on what service actually means to their customers.
The retail grocery industry has also become a delivery monster with Instacart and other services literally bringing home the bacon. Other retail businesses have been deemed essential and have had to find new ways to provide for customers and their workforce. At the forefront of all of these changes has been safety. While workers are still reporting to their jobs, we are starting to see new forms of protection for those in the workforce. Whether it is proactive or reactionary doesn’t necessarily matter when the needed changes happen as they have – Covid has pushed businesses to take action. As the businesses that are still operational have found it truly is adapt or die.
On the other side, we have corporate offices that have made the shift to having their employees work from home in many cases. While there are some personnel that have to report to the office for one reason or another – we are learning more and more that working from home is a realistic option. There are some dynamics that we once thought were mandatory – face to face meetings in person have given way to Zoom and Skype sessions. Other meetings have simply become conference calls or emails. Supervisors that once thought their entire team had to be on the premises in order to have a functioning department are learning that many duties can be carried out remotely – and in doing so they have found that morale has improved due to the new found flexibility and dedication to safety their team has experienced.
The one part of this that no one expected was employees being laid off and deciding they had no desire to go back to their old job if the call ever comes to return. All it took was the message that they were not essential or it was simply too unsafe for them to go to work. Add in low wages, undesirable hours, tiresome/menial duties and you have a recipe for employees telling you to take that job and shove it. They may have put in the paperwork for unemployment, but there was no desire to go back to that job even when the waters cleared. They are already looking to something else as long as it’s not where they were before this started. For many business owners that experience the loss of employees that don’t want to come back this is your chance for you to reflect on your culture and the future of your business. Times are tough – how has your business changed and how will you come back from the pandemic?
Adapt or die.