Top challenges faced by employers in 2021

From a loss in morale to demotivation at the workplace compounded by pandemic fears, there’s a lot for bosses to chew on this year as they navigate the maze to profits and growth.

Sankar Pillai
April 5, 2021

The pandemic of 2020 kept the plans, dreams, hopes and aspirations of thousands of companies, their owners and the employees on hold, wrecking bottom lines and laying waste to jobs.

A year on, the vaccines are out and fear and apprehension has mitigated quite a bit but the fear of the unknown persists, especially for those running businesses, from big tier corporate set-ups to SMEs and everything in between.

That said, employers are picking up the pieces as they hunker down to coax themselves through 2021, evaluating the best possible solutions and alternatives to retain employees, keep staff morale high and see how best the bottom line could be served.

Here are 5 common issues employers are expected to face this year and how best they could rise to the challenge.

  1. Conventional workspaces or go hybrid?

While most employees would prefer working from home, the overheads of ditching conventional workspaces in favour of remote access would be high for small businesses to shoulder, though big corporates have increasingly started favouring a remote work culture. The solution for all businesses, big and small of course, would be to find a balance that does not necessarily tip the scales in favour of either of the options, but provide a working long-term solution for staff to reap the benefits from both models. Which is essentially, what the term hybrid might connote, you may add. True. However, it is up to individual employers to gauge which model to favour more based on what works best for their respective firms, and more importantly for the staff that helps keep the business ticking over. In essence allowing staff to work more from home and providing the option to step into office on an emergency should work perfectly.

  1. Tools for the job

Any change in a work environment obviously translates to more costs but change is the only constant that can feed the furnace of growth. Keeping this universal truth in mind, businesses big and small need to factor in a completely new work ethic in terms of aiding staff with the accessories and tools that would help them function better as remote workspaces become the new normal. Graduating from improving physical workspaces to the virtual one is not easy but implementing the necessary digital tools for the trade, from timely webinars to online training platforms and more, there is a lot that needs to be actioned in very little time. Employers up for the task are expected to reap the benefits.

  1. Implementing employee wellness policies

Small businesses, again have managed to get by in the past by implementing the bare minimum in terms of wellness policies for staff as SME owners and entrepreneurs did all they could to cut corners and costs to shore up the bottom line. Not anymore.

Strict government policies globally ensure that providing a safe and hygienic work environment for staff in a post-Covid world is now a thing and cannot be played with. Employee wellness policies, which include adequate health insurance for staff to being able to accommodate and assist staff in case of an unexpected illness, as well as the provision of clean and hygienic work environments requires rigorous and sustained investment on the part of the employer and can be a challenge for those who allowed benchmarks to slide.

  1. An agile team is a profitable team

Pre- or post-Covid, there’s no arguing the fact that the best results are often accrued by teams and organisations that have the ability to adapt and change their work dynamic as the business would require. In a post-Covid world, as profits fall and the competition rises, the ability of agile and adaptable teams in rising to the occasion and calling the shots are higher than ever. As a leader of teams therefore, it is the onus of the employer to curate and find the right work dynamic that allows his or her team to stay flexible and adapt to meet consumer and sectoral demand. And the faster they are able to adapt, the better.

  1. Providing job security

As challenges go, this would be the most obvious but the hardest to achieve in a post-Covid world. As uncertainties abound and mount, businesses need to do the best they can in prioritising operations and taking business decisions that build a sense of security for the company as well as for staff. And never has the choice to take risk been more critical than now. The best entrepreneurs, the best managers and business owners thrive on their ability to take risk and make the cash registers ring when the cards are down. This is their time to shine and make their employees proud, of their boss and the organisation of which they are a part.


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