Employers should start putting plans in place now to keep hold of skilled staff once the coronavirus lockdown and restrictions are lifted, or risk losing them to competitors.
That is the warning from employment lawyer Chris Amys, who says despite the expected increase of unemployment rates, businesses could still face a shortage of skilled staff in the long term.
Mr Amys, from law firm mfg Solicitors, said employers should not see furlough leave and the job retention scheme as a pause button, because many workers will be looking for the best possible deal on conditions and pay once they’re able to get back to work.
He said: “Employers have to start working on retaining their skilled staff now or they could lose them altogether once things get back to normal.
“This is a really difficult time for employees and businesses alike and while the government’s numerous schemes are helping to cover some costs, the reality for many is that they’ve seen their income drop substantially.
“The unemployment rate is probably going to rocket, but that doesn’t mean there will be lots of skilled workers ready to fill gaps. Certain industries will still have a shortage.”
“Despite these difficulties for businesses, now is the time to reflect on common issues which may affect staff turnover, such as low pay, unsociable hours, lack of career progression and poor staff morale. Dealing with these matters now will help businesses retain key staff when they rebuild.
“One positive from Covid-19 has been the significant expansion of flexible working and the ability to work remotely from home. It could be worth some businesses investigating whether these arrangements could become more long term.
“Similarly, consideration should also be given to training and development opportunities, to carry out those all-important appraisals and to evaluate long-term development, including career progression. Those are the kind of steps which will help to keep staff in the coming months.”
“Now is the time to also review Contracts of Employment and obtain advice upon the enforceability of any confidentiality and restrictive covenants, as well as implementing policies and procedures for new working practices.”