Since the rise of COVID-19, the business ecosystem has undergone drastic transformations. To cope with the COVID-19 disruptions, businesses introduced changes to existing business frameworks, corporate strategies, and workplace practices. Businesses adapted rapidly, with those successful thriving – job scopes were reworked, working from home had become the default, and a different approach to physical and mental health was established.
Businesses, employees, and job seekers alike are facing unprecedented changes and are unsure of what the future holds. In such trying times, it is even more crucial that businesses strive towards creating a sustainable future where no one is left behind. It starts by adapting to the needs of your employees – only then can you build a positive environment that uplifts everyone.
Securing Sustainable Employment and Employability in Trying Times
Amidst all the uncertainty and changes, the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on areas requiring a little more attention to creating sustainable employment and working environments. For the first time in two decades, there is a concerning upsurge in extreme poverty, where around 120 million people fell into poverty in 2020 alone. In order to ameliorate the impact that COVID-19 has caused to economies and societies, everybody needs to do their part in pushing for a global recovery. Solidarity is paramount.
The benefits of sustainable employment go beyond elevating communities and societies. Businesses, too, have a lot to gain should they transform their existing business models and frameworks into ones that prioritise sustainable employment. By protecting the talent pool by way of employment diversification or investing in job-reskilling and job redesign, businesses can unlock solutions for talent and labour shortages. Besides providing a competitive edge, such efforts allow companies to position themselves for growth opportunities when the economy rebounds.
Aside from looking at COVID-19 recovery from the macro lens, it is also important to look inwards. The transformation in working conditions has blurred the line separating the public and private spheres, contributing to burnout and mental stress. 37% of employees in Singapore reported an increase in burnout over the last six months as of February 2021. Taking steps to ensure employees remain mentally and physically healthy is crucial in promoting sustainable employment.
According to a survey done by McKinsey, 80% of employees said their employers acted proactively to protect their health and safety amidst the pandemic. This has led to significantly higher rates of satisfaction amongst these employees, and in turn, encourages more efficient and effective working structures. By gearing toward a more holistic outlook on employment, businesses can better protect the needs of their workers, and in doing, so reap the rewards of a motivated team.
Working Towards a Sustainable Future Together
To ensure that businesses have the capacity to sustain and develop post-pandemic, the government has taken steps to ensure that the financial needs of the various industries are protected. The introduction of the Job Support Scheme (JSS), alongside its supplementary budget called Resilience and Solidarity Budget, was set up as a job protection scheme to protect businesses, jobs, and workers. JSS support was stepped up to 25%, 50%, or 75%, depending on the sector. The qualifying income ceiling was also raised from $3,600 to $4,600.
For those seeking career opportunities in other sectors or industries, the government has set up the Career Conversion Programme (CCP), where individuals can leverage industry-recognised training in any of these three modes: Place-and-Train, Attach-and-Train, as well as Redeployment/Job Redesign (JR) Reskilling. Through these approaches, individuals are able to expand their skill sets, and companies are able to tap into a wider talent pool.
Marginalised groups will need to be taken into consideration when formulating a COVID-19 recovery plan. Marginalised groups go beyond the locals and extend to the foreign workers. To assist them, the government has announced that employers can leverage on foreign worker levy rebates, with some levies waived, depending on the industry. With this support, it hopes to offer employers a greater capacity to better balance their support for all employees.
Alongside this governmental effort, developments in research and studies continue to shed light on beneficial workplace practices, and how best to cater to the needs of employees. The most common trajectory recommended is one that prioritises fair and progressive employment practices, an investment in relationships with your employees, and gearing towards a more united form of employment.
By making the right changes, you can maximise your business’s operations to meet the needs of your current and future workforce, so that your company is sustained for the future.
Doing Our Part
As COVID-19 continues to impact business environments, the implementation of recovery efforts become more imperative and urgent as the time goes by. Sustainable employment and employability should exist as one of the key pillars of any COVID-19 recovery plan, to ensure that recovery is done in an equitable manner, where everyone has an opportunity to not just survive, but also thrive.
The SBF Sustainable Employment (SE) initiative calls on the Singapore business community to take purposeful action to improve their SE practices in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments. The initiative was launched with a report that highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on, in order to achieve long term business success and foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society.
Make the pledge to join others in this journey.