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East Midlands Chamber News

Five ways Covid-19 will change the way businesses interact with their employees

James Taylor, CEO of East Midlands recruitment firm Macildowie, highlights five key themes he expects to see during the economic recovery relating to people in businesses.

1. HR has become the fifth emergency service

We already have the fire, ambulance, police – and AA as the self-appointed fourth emergency service – but HR is going to be the fifth. The world of HR has been so dynamic because we have been figuring it out as we went along. No one knew what the world "furlough" meant five months ago and now it’s the most used word, after ‘unprecedented’. The HR director has become the chief executive’s right-arm man or woman, rather than the finance director.


2. Succession planning will need to step up a gear

There’s a heck of a lot of people in their 50s on executive leadership teams who have really rather enjoyed the feeling of semi-retirement given to them by working from home. So I believe the "new normal" won’t just create new jobs, but it’s going to create a potential hole in business’ succession planning as senior leaders take retirement when their companies weren’t necessarily expecting that to happen.


3. Flexible working will become the new norm

The ‘new normal’ will mean employees are expecting greater levels of flexibility as opposed to having flexibility imposed on them. Pre-lockdown, working Monday to Friday was fine but actually, as chief executives, we’ve realised it doesn’t really matter which hours people are in work. Let’s take that ethos and adopt it within whatever the "new normal" is. Let’s not impose restrictions on employees but let them decide how they work.


4. Working smarter, not harder

People will feel less guilty about having childcare duties. Workplaces will focus on outputs, rather than inputs. In the old world, those who were seen to be working the hardest climbed the corporate ladder quickest, whereas in the new world it’s those who are working the most efficiently. I don’t think we’ve ever really shaken off that feeling of having to work hard to go far, but that could now change.


5. More emphasis on talent retention

People and talent will be a strategic point on board agendas. I don’t mean that just for recruitment, but in terms of retaining your best people. Do a business culture audit – ask your best people what they’re thinking because they’re thinking it anyway. If you don’t, then you’re at risk of not meeting their needs – so get closer to your best people and involve them more.


This article appeared in the August/September issue of the Business Network magazine. Click here to read the online edition.