Positive and creative approaches emerging in the workplace as a result of the pandemic!

Tourism sector reducing hours instead of redundancies

A large employer in the tourism sector was about to start the process of looking at large-scale redundancies.  Staff knew it was coming and were resigned to it – they saw no other way.  But the wage subsidy extension was announced and significant investment in tourism, so the employer postponed the meetings (set for the following day) and rescheduled for the next week so they could examine the implications.  They came up with an alternative plan wherestaff reduced their hours half as a temporary measure enabling the employer to keep all staff on.  Still radical, still a huge challenge but they are in the tourism sector and they have a job!  They also have hope that tourism will rebound (at least domestically) and their job will survive.  Hope is critical at times like this.  In addition, the staff (even though many are looking for ways to supplement their income) are feeling like their employer is doing it’s best to save their jobs.  They feel valued.

Study as an option instead of redundancy

A solo mum (we will call her Kate) is working in an administrative role in a niche tourism company which relies mainly on overseas tourists.  Their business has dried up completely but they have kept her on over the lockdown even though there was very little to do.  Recently, they asked Kate to reduce her hours 20%.  She countered with a request for it to be 15%, which they agreed to.  The employer is being very honest with her and saying that business isn’t looking promising and it’s a real possibility that they might have to shut up shop completely or make her redundant.  Kate is going in to work every day but has hardly anything to do.  Last week the employer proposed that Kate enrol in some study and split the cost with them 50/50 on the basis that a) it would give her something to do in the office, b) it would be an area that would have benefit for the company, c) it would be an area that would make her more marketable if she needs to end up looking for a job.  So, Kate is now enrolled in an online course which both parties agreed had mutual benefits.  Kate now has greater hope of her employability for the future.  She also has something to do.  And she is learning – which in itself will provide a sense of growth and achievement, and thus will likely improve her level of self-confidence.  If the employer stays afloat, they will have a more capable staff member, with skills that directly relate to rebuilding their business.

Enjoyed working 80% and now wants to do it permanently

Theresa works full time as a project coordinator in the building industry.  Over the lockdown her hours (and pay) were reduced to 80%.  Theresa is mother to two young children and very much into her fitness.  Over the lockdown she relished the chance to have more quality family time as well as indulge her exercise passions.  Theresa and her husband have agreed that they can live permanently with the reduction in pay.  So, Theresa is approaching her employer with a bid to make the 80% a permanent adjustment.  Everyone wins – Theresa gets a greater quality of work-life, her family gets more of her time, the employer has a reduced cost.

Moved to full pay as soon as possible

A firm in a field connected to the building industry had their workload significantly impacted the lockdown.  They negotiated with their staff to reduce their pay to 80%.  Some staff were able to do some work from home, some very little, if anything.  Cashflow was tight and the business owners were very worried during the lockdown about their viability.  The firm collected the wage subsidy and maintained good communication with staff including reassuring them that if possible they wanted to keep them all in ongoing employment.  Work has picked up significantly from the start of Level 2, and as of the first full week of level two most staff were back to full time hours and full pay.  All other staff resumed full time hours and pay the following week.  It would have been tempting (though potentially unwise) for this firm to seek to recover some of its losses extending the 80% pay and hours arrangement.  Their argument was simple – the work is there and cashflow has resumed.  Clearly, they also value their staff and wanted to do the right thing.

What inspiring stories have your heard?  Please let us know on covid@organisationalpsychology.nz