Although the lockdown has been extended for another two weeks, we should still be thinking towards the end of the lockdown, when we can go back to "normal". We don't yet know what the world will look like for our businesses when this is all said and done, but we need to give consideration to the possibilities. For example, who will you bring back from furlough to work first if the lockdown is lifted gradually? Will you need to swap job roles around? How will you reward employees who kept working? How will you keep people engaged after a long period of time off or working from home?
For some of you, there has been minimal impact on your business which is fantastic! However, the pandemic will still affect you in some way. We are likely to enter into period of high unemployement if businesses close which means it's easier to recruit. But that also means you will have more applicants, and choosing the right people becomes more of a challenge. Having solid recruitment strategies in place will help you navigate the increased choice of applicants you will have. If you have adapted your business activity to respond to the pandemic, how do you plan to respond to the end of the pandemic? Will you be able to return to making your original products? Will you diversify into something different? Maybe you'll carry on offering home deliveries which you didn't do before.
Remember that fundamental changes to the way staff work could be limited by their contract of employment so always refer back to the contracts before making any changes.
I think we'll be okay
If your business is weathering the storm fairly well, that's also good. You might want to be thinking about how you can adapt to future proof your business. You might have noticed that working from home works really well for your team and reduces the need for large office spaces. Perhaps increased pressure has highlighted a performance issue with a member of staff which needs to be resolved. You might be reviewing your structure to see if you can streamline your teams. Remember that any contractual changes you want to make will require consultation. So if you want to implement them in say, June, you need to start consulting very soon. You might also be thinking of other ways to reduce your operating costs including reducing working hours or cutting salaries. If you are considering these options, remember to think past lockdown in terms of your reputation as an employer. These are extreme measures and should only be put in place if it is absolutely necessary.
We might need to make redundancies
If your business is struggling, the best thing you can do at the moment may be to furlough your staff, providing they are eligible. Bear in mind though, that the furlough scheme is not indefinite. You will need a plan B in case the furlough scheme is not extended which might involve a restructure and redundancies. Any dismissal should be an absolute last resort so it's important that you have genuinely explored all other options such as what I mentioned in the last section. Again, you will need to consult with staff, even if you are liquidating a business, consultation is important.
Whatever we think the future looks like for us, have a plan. It doesn't have to be prescriptive, none of us are Mystic Meg (I think) so keep it flexible, but at least start thinking about the future. And remember, through thick and thin, Lilac's got your back.
Stay safe out there.