The pandemic: is there a silver lining for businesses?
“Silver lining: a sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation; a bright prospect”
As we enter the third lockdown in the UK, it is not surprising that many businesses and employers are struggling to cope and some sectors, such as the travel industry and hospitality sector as well as the arts, are finding this more difficult than some. However, in trying to find the positives, are there any ‘silver linings’ that businesses can take from 2020?
The entrepreneur and innovator
As with all change, it sometimes can force or encourage people to innovate. It is an opportunity to take that leap of faith that previously would have felt too risky.
This could, for example, be the individual who has been made redundant and decides to take this opportunity to start up that business idea. Alternatively, it will be businesses having to adapt and change quickly, taking those decisions that before they may have been reluctant to do so, only to find that they reap the rewards.
For example, this may be reflected in how businesses have increased and improved their use of technology or it may be how they innovate to allow for more flexible working. An improved knowledge and confidence in either technology or creative working patterns will allow businesses to take advantage of this in the coming months ahead to get the best out of their business and their staff.
Despite the doom and gloom and difficulties faced by some sectors of the economy, some businesses have been flourishing through during lockdown. The obvious industries are those relating to sale of PPE and sanitising products, but other examples are the grocery and frozen food sector, and those industries involved with recreation and sports equipment. Manufacturers have had to try and keep up with demand for exercise products such as indoor bikes.
Also in the spotlight have been our scientific and engineering industries. Although there is no doubt the economic downturn will have an impact on them, there is perhaps a newfound respect and interest in these sectors which they can then benefit from in the future, especially when it comes to recruitment.
Lean and agile workforce
Although businesses have had to face difficult, and often upsetting, decisions with redundancies and restructures, one consequence of this is that it can leave behind a leaner workforce, potentially more adaptable and agile going forward. Although no business would like to admit it, and may not even recognise it themselves, redundancies can inadvertently allow businesses to ‘clear the decks’ and retain staff most suited to the needs of the business.
COVID-19 has made us all appreciate the simple things in life and this includes the ability to go to work. This may be being able to work at all or being able to see and work with colleagues.
People are likely to appreciate work more and the structure and purpose it gives them, alongside the social side of things. This could be beneficial for employers in giving employees a new sense of purpose and appreciation for the normal day job. Employers will also be benefiting from the fact that they are more likely to retain staff longer over the coming months since the uncertain economic climate means that employees are less likely to want, or be able, to find a new job.
Improved work/life balance
During the pandemic there has been an increase in flexible working and, for some, a better work/life balance. Staff may feel more empowered to request and consider some sort of flexible working and employers will need to engage with this. The sudden and dramatic increase in home working and technological revolution means employers may find it difficult to resist flexible working requests. With a better work/life balance inevitably comes happier more productive staff which in turn can be beneficial to a business.
These silver linings by no means compensate businesses or individuals for the past year and everything the country has had to deal with. However, with much of the headlines focussed on the negative, it is worth stopping and considering as a business where the opportunities lie and what positives can be taken forward into this year and the future, whatever that might look like.