Covid-19 Staffing Strategies – Planning For The New Normal

Covid-19 Staffing Strategies

Staffing strategies during Covid-19 are throwing up huge challenges for businesses. Effective workforce planning for your “new normal” is essential.

Options for staffing when you need to cut costs

An obvious step when finances are tight is to make staff redundant. Rather than make a hasty decision, are there other options you could take?

Using the Flexible Furlough Scheme

The Furlough scheme is designed to protect jobs.

It’s possible to run redundancy consultations, followed by notice periods, concurrently with furlough leave. This allows you to review your finances and postpone any final decisions.

Where notice periods are running alongside furlough leave, employees must be paid as normal. Employers will therefore need to ‘top up’ any monies claimed back from the scheme to ensure employees receive 100% salary.

Making changes to working conditions

Are there other changes you could make to staff terms and conditions to reduce costs?

For instance:

  • Reducing hours
  • Changing rates of pay
  • Removing or reducing benefits

When making changes, you must follow proper consultation and notice requirements. Confirm any agreed changes in writing.

You should be honest and transparent with your team and engage them in what you’re doing.

Explain why you need to make changes and seek their views.

Show that you’re doing what you can to protect jobs.

Demonstrate you have considered everything and be open to ideas. Your staff may think of something you haven’t!

When making staff redundant is the best option

You may feel that making staff redundant is your best option.

Remember that you are making the role, not the person redundant.

Design any new staffing structure around your business needs, NOT your people.

Never use redundancy to solve an issue with a difficult member of staff. You may see redundancy as a quick or easy answer. But in solving one issue you may inadvertently create new problems.

Making someone redundant may be unnecessarily costly and unfair. You also risk tribunal claims associated with unfair dismissal.

If you have a difficult staffing issue, focus on managing and resolving that as a separate matter.

When making redundancies, you must follow the appropriate consultation, selection and communication process.

Staffing options if business is increasing

Many businesses have been negatively affected by COVID-19. Others have been able to develop new products or services and increase business. New roles may be required to fulfil business needs.

If you’re able to expand your business, you should consider:

  • How many hours you can confidently offer?
  • Whether employing for permanent roles is the best option
  • If using agency staff, consultants or outsourcing may be better for your business
  • Whether you can offer new roles to staff at risk of redundancy in other areas of the business. You are legally required to explore suitable alternative redeployment options.  

Deciding on how many hours you need

If needing more staff hours, you may be unsure of how many you can confidently offer.

Don’t commit to contracted hours you don’t need. A better option may be to underestimate the number of hours you require, then pay overtime at a flat rate.

Different types of employment contracts

The current economic climate is uncertain. So, committing to a permanent role at present may not be the best option.

There are different types of contracts you could use.

You could employ staff on fixed term contracts to deliver specific projects. Other options would be to use agency staff, outsource or engage self-employed consultants.

Making roles available to staff “at risk” of redundancy

If you’re making changes to your business, you may have staff ‘at risk’ of redundancy.

At risk staff with relevant skills and experience should be able to apply for any new roles. They should be prioritised before recruiting someone new to your business.

Making temporary ways of working your “new normal”

The pandemic and lockdown have forced businesses into new ways of working.

Online meetings using Zoom or Microsoft Teams have become commonplace. Thousands of employees have been working from home. Systems have been upgraded to allow more people to access remotely.

Whilst homeworking will not fit all employees and all businesses, is there an opportunity to make a temporary way of working your “new normal”?

Homeworking can offer opportunities for a better work-life balance for staff. Staff may be able to avoid long commutes and be less tired and more productive as a result.

Online meetings reduce business travel and accommodation costs. They also allow staff more time to focus on completing other areas of work.

Split shifts may enable you to increase your opening times and extend production or customer access to services you offer. This can generate additional turnover opportunities.

If new ways of working are impacting positively on your team, consider making any temporary changes your “new normal”.

Do you have any questions around getting your business back on track after COVID-19? If so, get in touch today. Contact Debbie on 07885 370054 or email

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