OPINION: How’s your future looking? East Devon HR

  Posted: 31.07.20 at 13:00 by Sue Cockayne - East Devon HR

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Back in February 2020, our articles talked about business continuity planning and what to think about in a crisis; I think the crisis arrived! We are now in the “eye of the storm”, so how are you planning for the future?

At East Devon HR, we support both business and their people – we encourage business and people to work together for the benefit of both – if the business is successful, your people will be successful.

Equally, what happens when business isn’t going so well?

Sadly, at the moment many businesses are fighting for their survival. We hear dire predictions in the
media and business press of redundancies, businesses contracting and employees losing their jobs.

Some of the big high street brands, John Lewis, Next, Virgin, have all announced job cuts.

We know that airlines and the hospitality sector are suffering huge impacts as a result of lock down – if ever there was a time for a staycation to support your local hospitality sector, now is it – lovely as it is to get away from it all – now is the time to invest in your local business community and the local economy.

You may feel all is doom and gloom – there is certainly reason to be concerned but I’m also seeing lots of growth with smaller businesses – businesses looking forward and planning for expansion.

For those returning to work over the next two to three months, one of the challenges is that the psychological contract that you have between the employer and the employee may have weakened.

I have been surprised to hear from employees who tell me they have barely heard from their employer in the last four months and others who feel anxious about returning to work as they have lost confidence – if ever there was a need for everyone to keep in touch and communicate with each other, now would be it.

There are undoubtedly difficult decisions ahead and as a business leader, in order to save your business, you may have to cut staff. There’s a good way to do that – with respect, honesty and kindness – I don’t need to say how to do it badly!

As an employee concerned for your job, or a young person who had planned an apprenticeship, or a
student looking for that first job or saving for your gap year what can you do? Like any good cub scout will tell you – be prepared!

If that sounds flippant, I apologise, but it is true. What’s the worst-case scenario – you lose your job or you can’t get a job. OK, so what’s plan B. Have you got insurance, can you take a rent or mortgage break; what other jobs are there out there (it may not be your ideal job, but will it tide you over)?

Students, the new Kick Start programme may help employers to invest in youngsters coming into work; students looking to earn money for university or travel – you may have to have two or three part time jobs – there is work out there locally, albeit much of it temporary.

Recession is one of those times when new business can find an opportunity; think of those independent distilleries who have been producing hand sanitizers; those businesses that have produced plastic screens; the huge increase in online shopping and therefore the need for delivery drivers; the increased need for cleaning and therefore cleaners – it’s not glamorous, but there are opportunities.

My work at the moment is as much helping businesses looking to expand, as it is supporting business to contract.

So, what’s my message? Whether you’re an employer or an employee – be prepared, plan ahead, talk to experts and get the help you need; talk to your people or your networks, understand what you need to do and how you need to do it.

If you’re at risk of redundancy and have been employed with your current employer for two years or more, you will be entitled to a redundancy payment. There is a calculator at www.gov.uk.

Your employer may offer you suitable alternative employment – be prepared to consider it, understand your options.

If you’ve been made redundant, understand what you’re entitled to; what help there is financially and with training; for assistance with universal credit or other income support.

Update your CV, think about the strengths and the experience and skills you have; if you’ve been told you are going to be made redundant, you are entitled to time off for job interviews. Think about updating or refreshing your skills or learning new skills.

Most importantly, in our local communities, use our networks to look after each other - talk to each other; share opportunities where you know of them.

There are challenges ahead; we know how much difference it made in difficult times during lock down when we were kind, respectful, tolerant - if we can support each other, share our knowledge and resources where we can, as a whole community in East Devon we will be the stronger for it.

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