The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything, from the way we interact to the way we shop and especially the way we work. The unfortunate consequence of the lockdown is that many businesses have had to shut their doors or dramatically downscale their operations. The crisis has highlighted that agility is key in solving employment challenges – from the perspective of both employers and employees. In a world where the availability of work and the availability of the workforce is uncertain, Temporary Employment Services (TES) provide the flexibility and scalability needed to deal with sudden shifts and changes.
Rising to the challenge
When South Africa’s government announced the lockdown, they also announced the implementation of the Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS). This was an adjunct to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), designed to aid people who became unemployed or were placed on short time due to Covid-19. This scheme has, however, been fraught with challenges around payments. It also came to an end on 15 September, and so does not provide a buffer for businesses going forward.
While some businesses have advanced payments to staff in the hope of then offsetting this with TERS, this is not sustainable. The lockdown also extended far beyond the period anticipated, and the economy has seen dramatically negative effects forcing companies to come up with creative ways of staying afloat.
As we see cases start to surge again in Europe, the USA and Asia, the future of South Africa remains uncertain. Although many businesses are on the path to recovery, if another lockdown is imposed, the impact could be catastrophic. It is no longer possible to offer permanent employment because the cost of right-sizing a workforce leads to extreme financial loss. Many businesses have had to let staff go simply to stay afloat and remain a viable employer in the future.
Covid-19 has highlighted how important agility is, especially around staffing. Businesses need the ability to adjust their workforce to their needs, and employees to go where the work is in order to ensure stable income streams. This makes TES the ideal solution and potentially the new normal as the future remains uncertain.
Gearing for recovery
As the economy begins to improve, businesses may need to hire again, however, to what extent remains to be seen. The impact on different industries has varied, so gearing for economic recovery means agility is essential. TES allow organisations to scale their workforce as they need, in both directions, so they can dynamically meet their changing requirements and support recovery.
For employees, TES also offers excellent opportunities. While employment may not be permanent, it enables staff to earn a reasonably stable income. It is also an opportunity for employees to be exposed to different clients and industries, allowing them to upskill in new areas.
With so much uncertainty around the future and the likelihood that disruptions due to Covid-19 will be an ongoing occurrence, businesses can no longer guarantee employment. Permanent staffing is therefore likely to remain unsustainable during these uncertain economic times. TES offer the agility and flexibility needed to meet demand dynamically to help businesses remain sustainable and enable employees to continue receiving an income.
The author is Commercial Manager at Workforce Staffing