- On top of the employers’ mind is the need to survive these lean times.
- Product sales have nose-dived while operational costs continue to rise, necessitating a change of tack to remain afloat.
- According to global outsourcing firm, Stratostaff, many firms have allowed their essential staff to work from home where IT technicians enjoyed booming business setting up temporary offices to facilitate virtual meetings.
The Covid-19 pandemic has redefined the employment space, forcing human resource departments, business owners and company boards back to the drawing board.
On top of the employers’ mind is the need to survive these lean times. Product sales have nose-dived while operational costs continue to rise, necessitating a change of tack to remain afloat.
According to global outsourcing firm, Stratostaff, many firms have allowed their essential staff to work from home where IT technicians enjoyed booming business setting up temporary offices to facilitate virtual meetings.
“Covid-19 created awareness of how different we needed to conduct business.
“Staff were asked to work from home as sales dwindled, which forced them to review operations. Some units were shut down while others trimmed staff to reduce fixed expenses,” said general manager Antony Lunalo.
The Stratostaff boss said companies facing uncertain times due to the Covid-19 pandemic must eliminate excess capacity or reassign employees to ensure meaningful utilisation with those whose services are less often relieved to pave the way for savings that accrue with maintaining a lean staff.
Mr Lunalo said employees who survived retrenchment reskilled fast as some jobs vanished forcing workers in certain fields to take up more tasks albeit with no commensurate pay package.
“Firms are now moving from pure outsourcing to managed service and have to be flexible.
“Getting the people and service on demand, reduces idle capacity and helps firms get the best skills that the market has to offer,” he said.
BrighterMonday chief executive Emmanuel Mutuma says the job market fell by 58 per cent during the first months of the pandemic after companies put on hold recruitment for senior-level positions.
Mr Mutuma said demand for health and safety jobs went up by 700 per cent as organisations moved in to combat the pandemic.
Other sectors that reported demand growth include trades and services (327.7 per cent), agriculture and farming (170 per cent), real estate and property management (125 per cent).
In a report released last October BrighterMonday said quality control and assurance experienced a 113.7 per cent growth, engineering (111 per cent), medical and pharmaceuticals (94.7 per cent), transport and logistics (52.8 per cent) with Information Technology and software standing at 33.9 per cent.
Mr Mutuma said where necessary, layoffs should be considered as a last resort with employers having exhausted all options.
“Take time and table all the other options you may have to take before firing your employees. You could offer salary cuts or send them on unpaid leave. There is always something you can do before laying people off. Let that be the last card in your deck.”
Mr Lunalo said the future calls for companies keen on stemming costs to adopt a productivity model when remunerating staff to avert the traditional month-based payments.
He said matching people costs to productivity and offering flexibility on staffing took away recruitment costs, enabling firms to enjoy higher cash flows for meeting their operational needs.
With many businesses disrupted, companies have suffered reduced sales with some forced to cut down staff as well as lease out equipment for additional revenue.
Mr Mutuma says employers need to communicate challenges the company is facing with employees, which he says helps prepare the staff for the inevitable to avoid a situation where retrenchments take workers by surprise.
“Getting laid off is not easy to handle. It weighs heavily on people in all aspects of their life. For instance, most people go through an emotional rollercoaster,” he says.
In its study, ‘Conducting Layoffs Humanely During Crisis’ BrighterMonday warns that text messages, emails or group calls, as well as recorded messages, should never be used to communicate ‘bad’ messages.
“The action of laying people off is no fun. Whether it is the employer himself or the head of human resource who handles the matter, it should be done in real-time and by the person responsible and in person. Make it face-to-face,” adds Mr Mutuma.
Mr Lunalo says firms should recall staff on contract when needed as well as utilise leased professional services once in a while to keep costs down.
The new normal has also seen companies hire more workers on a casual basis when demand for goods rises and send them home when times are lean.