In March this year, during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that ‘every business must rethink their business model’. Before March, most businesses would never have imagined a crisis which would force them to change the way they work practically overnight. But as the months go on and we start to adapt, we are discovering that this new way of working might actually be with us for the long term.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses in different ways, ranging from minimal to catastrophic. Australia’s responses to contain the virus and stimulate the economy have triggered drastic shifts in consumer confidence and behaviour, and may impact supply chains in ways yet to be realised. It is likely this period will reshape our business and employment practices permanently.
This impetus to reflect on our business models inevitably leads to an assessment of finances, customers and supply chains. One of the most significant concerns for business will be how to strategically respond to this environmental change. Change is often feared, in particular for its impact on employees, and for this reason deferred – even if it leads to less favourable business outcomes.
Businesses which provide education, professional development and support for staff during a period of change will have a greater chance of being able to navigate the current shifting business environment. Embedding a culture of continuous learning will not only help support the current wave of change but will help to weather the future as well. Retraining and upskilling provide businesses with the best chance at getting ahead of these changes. Adapting and improving upon employees’ skills is a critical component of building business-model resilience in a post-pandemic era.
History tells us, following past crises, companies that act quickly to build up the capabilities of their workforce will be more successful at ensuring their business recovery is a success. The lesson here is that for a company to be resilient, their workforce needs to be prepared.