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Covid 19 and the New Employment Environment

When the green button is pushed, will we be ready?

It’s hard to look to the future when we are dealing with perhaps the biggest crisis in living memory - one that is hitting people hard, and devastating economies worldwide. But if someone doesn’t, then we do face the spectre of a very uncertain future.

In the last week or two, there has been a lot on social media about how we come out of this - without any plan so far.

It was relatively easy to enter the lockdown – fear provokes instant action and it could be argued that anyone, anywhere, could have succeeded in achieving what we have simply by the constant barrage of the media - and compliance. In every economy, it has happened, no matter what political persuasion is in power. But getting out will be a different matter.

As we grapple with containment and an attempt at elimination, right now we need to start thinking about how we re-start, get things going, or even decide whether we do. There are two components here - the big strategic picture of sectors and industries and their new shapes, and the operational aspects of individual companies, big and small.

The big picture strategies will be made at a Boardroom level. We’ve seen the anguish of Air New Zealand, and the sudden closure of Bauer. These are strategic decisions.

But we will still need people to operate and be there in a new emerging environment. It will be the short-term “kick” that will be needed, and it is clear is that in the “new normal”, we will need a different set of skills that was operating in the previous BAU environment we had all become used to.

When we look back, there are some comparisons. The 1987 Crash, The Asian Crisis of the early 1990s, 9/11, SARS, and the GFC – all these “events” changed the face of business at the time – and meant companies had to engage different areas of expertise, often short term, to survive.

We know this will be different, so we are being proactive and creating a Recovery Register of the best brains in New Zealand, the best expertise we can find, with the right skills, who can be available when the green button is pushed and the economy – and every business that comprises it - is open again.

We know many businesses will fail - that is unavoidable - but the best chance will be engaging the best minds, on the ground, supporting, advising, actioning, doing - and getting NZ business up and running again.

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