The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the biggest disruption to economies of Australia and the world since the 1940s.  It will take many years for economic activity to return to previous levels.

Even as life gets back to normal, it will be a different normal to the previous one.  For businesses, some changes will be forced on them while for others the pandemic will serve as a catalyst to introducing wide-ranging changes to the way companies operate.  These changes will include alterations to the labour market and recruitment companies will be involved in ensuring that workers fit new needs.


The Changing Nature of the Workforce

Different sectors have been affected in varying ways and that will continue.  Retail, travel and leisure are likely to struggle for some time while technology may grow further as companies seek to automate their processes and reduce their reliance on labour.

The workers who remain in demand will be those who are highly skilled and can help in the process of change or will be part of a flexible workforce that is made up of part-time and casual workers as well as sub-contract staff in addition to permanent employees.  This arrangement will enable companies to react more quickly if disaster strikes again and make them better able to survive.

As companies react to their own needs, they also have to consider the needs of their workforce.  People are wary of travelling on crowded public transport and working in conditions they deem unsafe.  Companies should conduct a risk management exercise and create a way of working that ensures the safety of employees.

This will likely involve a continuation of arrangements that have developed during the lockdowns and may now become a part of working life.  Remote working will continue to some extent as familiarity with video conferencing has allowed it to be more acceptable as a viable replacement to face-to-face meetings in many situations.

Revised working methods have delivered numerous benefits in the current circumstances, and these benefits may include a better quality of life for employees and increased productivity for companies.  However, it is not always this clear as I have commented on previously and there are situations where the apparent benefits of working from home are in fact a disadvantage for some.


New Methods of Working

It is likely that many companies won’t want to revert to old ways of working but instead will be keen to take advantage of the improvements that new methods bring.  That will mean a more flexible workforce and one that has highly skilled workers at its core.

Those employees with the necessary skills and experience will look for quality jobs that provide good conditions, scope for improvement, job security and an acceptable work-life balance as well as good pay.  Workers in unskilled and less secure jobs will at least need to feel they are valued, and their safety is a priority.

Recruitment companies have to react to new working conditions and supply workers who truly meet employers’ needs.  That is nothing new to us at Schward Recruit where we work closely with employers so we’re aware of the service they need.  As a result, we are always prepared for changing labour market conditions.


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