To regain competitive advantage in the world of business and for companies to become more successful following the coronavirus pandemic, companies will need to look at their employment practices.
Covid-19 has impacted businesses in the following ways:
- Many forced to close at short notice;
- Some operated at a reduced capacity;
- Customer demand dropped dramatically in certain industries;
- UK has now officially gone into recession.
Covid-19 has impacted employees by:
- Furlough leave;
- Short time working;
- Pay cuts;
- Being made redundant;
- Coping with survival syndrome;
- Experiencing low morale;
- Suffering with anxiety about returning to the workplace.
Employers must consider how they move forward with their working practices as they rebuild and respond to Covid-19 to be able to continue or start to trade again.
Achieving Competitive Advantage
Things to consider for employers.
- People are the largest cost but the most essential asset
- Look at how employment practices are managed
- Candidate attraction is essential to secure the best candidates for vacancies
- Employee retention is vital to ensure employers can retain employees to minimize disruption to the business
- Aligned business strategy and people strategy
- Employee Value Proposition- Set of benefits employee receives for the skills they bring to the business these can help to attract candidates
How can companies rebuild and respond?
Contracts of employment
There are different types of contracts of employment that businesses can consider using, these include:
- Open-Ended contracts (previously known as permanent);
- Fixed Term Contracts;
- Annualised hours contracts;
- Zero Hours contracts;
- Casual Workers;
- Agency Workers;
Cross Training Employees
The benefits of cross training employees are:
- Make the organisation more flexible and adaptable, being able to adapt to change quickly such as Covid-19 and lockdown, especially if in the next few months some areas start to go into local lockdowns, as employees may not always work close to their hometown;
- Improve efficiency;
- Increase employee motivation and engagement.
Diversity and Inclusion
Companies need to look at their opportunities to become more diverse and inclusive to help achieve competitive advantage.
By building a team which includes a range of ethnicities, religions, genders and ages companies can give themselves a huge competitive advantage in the marketplace as they are more likely to have a deeper understanding of audiences and demographics. Having an inclusive workforce allows companies to tap into new customer bases, products and services.
The October 2019 government data on employment and ethnicity showed:
51% employment rate of disabled employees compared to 81% of non-disabled employees.
The 2018 equality report showed:
- 77% of mothers reported having a negative/discriminative experience while they were pregnant, on maternity leave or on their return to work;
- 42% of part-time employees were female compared to 13% men.
Companies need to be continuously working on becoming more diverse and inclusive.
According to a recent report the top 3 desired benefits are:
- Income protection;
- Health insurance;
- Increased annual leave.
A review of employee benefits can give companies a competive advantage over their competitors. Having the right or attractive employee benefits can have an impact on the talent that you attract to the company, it also helps to engage and retain employees.
Research has shown that employees would chose one job over another job if it offered better benefits and not just go for the highest salary. Employees are more likely to stay with an employer if their benefits package is good compared to employers with less attractive benefits packages.
A Plan for Jobs 2020
- Kick Start Scheme
This is a government scheme aimed at 16-24 year olds on universal credit and deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment, with £2 billion being made available initially. The government will pay employers to create jobs, which will provide 6-month work placements, pay will be for up to 25 hours per week at the national minimum wage.
The government have pledged to invest £111 million into traineeships, the aim is to ensure that more young people aged 16-24 will have access to quality training. Employers will receive £1k per trainee if they provide trainees with work experience.
- Job Retention Bonus Scheme
Employers will receive a one-off payment bonus of £1,000 per employee if that employee has been claimed for under the coronavirus job retention scheme and they have remained in continuous employment at the end of January 2020. The bonus payments will be made in February 2021. To be eligible employees must earn at least £520 per month on average between November 2020 and January 2021.
- Flexible working
Employees have a statutory right after 26 weeks’ service to request flexible working.
Flexible working can include:
- Working from home;
- Part-time working or term-time working;
- Job share positions;
- Condensed hours (longer days but same hours worked).
Benefits to a business of flexible working can include:
- Employee retention;
- Increased productivity;
- Employer of choice as flexible working is an attractive prospect for potential candidates;
- Business can operate longer opening hours by allowing flexibility in working hours.
- 4 day working week
The government have said they are looking into the prospect of a 4-day working week.
This could help companies to save costs, avoid redundancies and protect them from going into administration.
Legal considerations for companies to consider and explore if this happened would be:
- An important consideration is whether your employment contracts include a specific flexibility clause which allows you to change the working hours of your business and employees. An audit of every employee’s contract will be important.
- If not, this is a fundamental change to terms and conditions of employment, this would need mutual consent to change an employee’s contract of employment;
- If the company would be able to run on a 4-day week;
- A way to avoid redundancies and reduce costs.