Strategise for normality

Supply chain issues, chip shortages, inflation, the Great Resignation, staff relocating out of the cities and more. There is a great deal for directors to strategise around in 2022. By Cathy Parker.

Strategise for normality: Well, maybe that should be strategise for the new normality.

The last two years has seen boards focused around survival and staff health and safety related to the Covid-19 pandemic. And whilst the pandemic is not over and I am sure it will have more curveballs to throw at us, it’s clear that we have now entered a new phase of living with the virus.

With widespread vaccination and the traffic light system underway the focus for boards is on how to shape the business for this new normal.

One thing is certain, going back to pre-pandemic business-as-usual is probably not the best idea as the world has changed in many ways.

Trends you will need to factor into your thinking include (but are not limited) to:
•    Ongoing supply chain issues which appear unlikely to improve during 2022.
•    Chip shortage. If you are in electronics or rely on products which include electronics.
•    Inflation is back fuelled by the money thrown at economies during the pandemic.
•    The great resignation.
•    Changes in staff expectancies around flexible work/work from home.
•    A trend for staff to want to relocate from major centres and work remotely.
•    Discovery that more can be done virtually with significant cost savings in terms of meetings with both staff and clients.
•    The continued need to ensure staff and client safety and decisions around mask and vaccine mandates in the workplace.
•    The potential for more Covid interruptions as new waves/variants arrive.
•    Sustainability is likely to re-emerge as a major concern as pandemic worries ease.

In a nutshell the two biggest concerns are likely to be those related to supply chain disruption and staff retention.
Staff have tasted a different way of working and while some see the return to office interaction as great, many will have enjoyed the benefits of working from home and want to continue that at least part of the time.

Amongst our contacts we are seeing a number of people relocate away from their work base who are looking to work remotely with fortnightly or monthly meetings at the office.

If you want to retain these staff members you will need to see how you can accommodate this.

Part of it is driven by a desire to leave the large cities where lockdowns are more likely, house prices are challenging and traffic and increasing density is making the lifestyle less enjoyable.

Despite the expectations of growing unemployment at the start of the pandemic, we have seen the exact opposite, with unemployment levels approaching what many regard as full employment and numerous businesses experiencing challenges finding sufficient staff and skills.

The cut-off of immigration is part of that. But as the economy opens up there will be a growth of jobs back into tourism and hospitality, which will increase pressures and many younger professionals will look to restart stalled plans for overseas work and travel, further reducing the pool of talent.

All this means that strategies around staff retention become even more important.

Both of my daughters are starting their careers with large professional firms and it is interesting to see how these businesses approach this in terms of support, training and various programmes they have for their staff.

Every day sees these type of firms adding to their arsenal of staff well-being initiatives.

2022 will bring a raft of new challenges for boards so make sure you are up to speed with what is happening out there and the new trends you need to consider when planning.  

Cathy Parker is the director of Adrenalin Publishing, the owner of Management magazine. She also sits on a number of boards.


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