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Should we keep Jobkeeper? An HR specialist speaks

IT Wire, 15 February 2021

After a rocky year, 2020 finally ended with some good news: that Australia’s unemployment rate had fallen from a high of 7.5% in July 2020 to 6.6% in December 2020, but what does this mean for JobKeeper?

This drop came as a result of 50,000 new jobs being added during the month of December and meant that Australia was technically considered out of recession. However, the big question is: will that be short lived when the JobKeeper and the JobSeeker supplement end on 28 March 2021?

Predictions are that unemployment will again peak at 7.5% in the March 2021 quarter with the end of the JobKeeper buffer. So should we keep JobKeeper? The hard but honest answer is this: I don’t think so.

JobKeeper has served its purpose of cushioning the blow of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses whose revenue was impacted. We know this first hand at A Human Agency, as it helped us stay on track for many of the early months that were tough on small business.

But those months were a time that you had to dig deep and figure out what was needed to keep your business going throughout uncertainty. Technology and agility underpinned many quick pivots in strategy and services.

During 2020 some (unexpected) businesses boomed, others survived and unfortunately many did not which is evident as you walk through the once-busy shopping strips and see all the closed signs. There is no real way to know how long we will be affected by COVID, however, there are a few things we can do to safeguard our businesses and our people:

1. Adapt and be agile

When the first wave hit, most businesses were forced to adapt and provide flexible modes of working, invest in and upgrade their technology, and figure out a new model of work. While we are no longer in that phase (and thank goodness for that!) we still have to maintain business agility and be at the forefront of adaptability. Working the way we once did is not an option. We need to introduce adaptability and agility to our business strategy for the long-term.

2. Staying compliant

Operating to the letter of the rules is vital. This isn’t news; as businesses we always need to be compliant with rules and regulations, however for many businesses, especially for hospitality and tourism, going over-and-beyond the regulations is vital to survival. Making your customers aware of your cleaning and ventilation processes, being diligent to adhere to people limits and ensuring QR codes and signage are all up to date and correct gives people the confidence to use your services, amid the fear of contagion.

3. Workforce planning

Knowing that the end to JobKeeper is in sight, it’s time to start your workforce planning journey, and map out the needs of your business and the capability and capacity of your employees. This is a complex task to go at alone, so we recommend gaining the help of an HR expert here— (cheeky plug, yes, we know, but we know the value it will bring to your business— and we want to see you thrive!).

4. Re-evaluate and re-design your marketing strategy

While some business’ marketing strategy can still be relevant throughout this crisis, there are others that are very much reliant on tourism, overseas and interstate travellers and eased restrictions.

While we wait for other countries to gain control of their outbreaks, and remain hopeful that border closures eventually ease with the vaccination rollout, we have to get inventive. Re-design your target market to those within your reach and create offerings, deals and services that cater to them specifically.

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