COVID-19 has taught us many lessons in many forms. It has undoubtedly reshaped the way we do business. Aside from the health implications of the virus, it has impacted the workforce greater than any other sector. And, of course, this has had a major impact on the economy as a whole.
As many businesses are beginning to open back up, the exact toll of the virus on the employment sector has not been completely realized. There are many nuisances that we are currently faced with that will continue to challenge business operations for years to come. There are likewise many positive lessons that we will continue to implement when the virus is long gone and in our distant memories.
Here a few ways that COVID-19 has and will continue to impact the workforce…
Remote Work Environments
Given the success that many organizations have had with moving their workforce almost completely online, it is likely that the same organizations will increasingly embrace a remote workforce. This phenomenon is certainly not new, however, it’s ability to be successful has been overwhelmingly proven during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown. Many employers have now realized the value of remote work environments as they have been able to see the impact of such work spaces on their bottom line. They have been able to save money on space, electricity, equipment, etc.
On one hand a number of employers had to invest heavily in virtual meeting platforms like Skype, Zoom, etc. in order to keep their organizations afloat. On the other hand these same employers were able to save money on costs associated with hosting employees in one or more physical locations.
Additionally employers saw an increase in employee productivity, morale, and retention as organizations were able to accommodate their employees with remote work schedules. When employees work in remote environments they experience fewer workplace related distractions that often result in low productivity. They also gain valuable time not having to travel back and forth to work, which also improves productivity.
Additionally, many workers were forced to stay home during this pandemic to care for children and other shut-in loved ones who required round-the-clock care. The ability to work remotely was a major blessing for them. They could maintain their employment while being able to care for their loved ones, which also boosted their confidence in their organizations. Given the benefits that both employers and employees have realized through the increase in remote or virtual work environments, it is most likely that this trend is here to stay and increase.
Financial and Retirement Planning
As stated earlier, the economy was one of the hardest hit sectors due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Global and national economies have been hit quite hard as evidenced by a very bearish stock market. Undoubtedly these economic woes have reverberated to individuals and families at almost every socioeconomic level. A number of people have been left unemployed, underemployed, furloughed, or otherwise facing uncertain economic times.
This pandemic was certainly a wake-up call for individuals with poor money management skills. Many people learned very hard, first-hand lessons on how important it is to save, invest, and plan for the future. They saw just how devastating it can be to not have money stored away to fall back on during difficult financial times.
Thus, another way in which COVID-19 has changed the workforce is in the realm of financial and retirement planning. While this may not change how the average person works, it will definitely change how they interact with their earnings. More and more people have realized the benefit and necessity to save and invest in emergency funds and retirement plans.
So there will most likely be major growth in the financial and retirement planning sectors as more people scramble to store away for the future. Financial coaches, advisors, and planners are likely to see a surge in new clients. Even more, they will probably see an upturn in non-traditional clientele as individuals from all walks of life make efforts to improve their financial future.
COVID-19 has shone a glaring spotlight on the viability of almost every employment sector in the developed world. Through this pandemic we have been able to see which jobs have staying power and which ones don’t. This pandemic has been a definite call-to-action for individuals who were underemployed and for those who work in transitional employment sectors.
This crisis has led many to the unemployment and/or interview line in a desperate attempt to secure their financial future. The fact that these individuals have been left without jobs says a great deal about the need for workers in certain industries. Governmental shutdowns almost exclusively targeted non-essential industries, which ultimately means that in times of economic hardship workers in these sectors will suffer the most.
I stated “almost exclusively non-essential industries” because workers in essential industries were also hit. This is not because their jobs are non-essential, but in many cases their jobs are transitional due to automation. Keep in mind that grocers experienced substantial increases in profit throughout these last few months while a number of other sectors were suffering tremendously.
Though many grocers were increasing their bottom line, a number of them were likewise laying off employees. Why? Because they had the capacity to service customers through automated checkout systems at a greater capacity than they did with human employees. This indicates future job cuts in even robust and sustainable industries.
Fortunately, many workers have taken note of this dynamic and have opted to start or continue their education so that they can secure viable employment. Many colleges and universities are experiencing increases in enrollment as more people have seen themselves in the unemployment line due to COVID-19. This trend will only increase as more individuals are forced out of their current jobs.
While the jury is still out on the overall toll that COVID-19 will have on our everyday lives one thing is for certain – we will not go back to life as usual. This pandemic has shaken and waken us in critical ways. It has given us plenty to think about in terms of how we do business. And it will continue to make us question our old patterns.