Headlines may be about announcing layoffs and furloughs but workforce experts caution how employers do it will determine the likelihood employees will come back. A good employee separation experience will ensure they will want to come back.
Companies recognize workforce is a key asset they need to maintain for business continuity, according to AvWeek Senior Editor Michael Bruno, one of four speakers in the publication’s recent workforce webinar.
During the COVID-19 and the Workforce: Protecting Our Best Assets, speakers indicated employers should be planning now for the return. Sixty-seven percent of attendees indicated they were either working on stabilizing their business or strategizing for return
The big challenge, said PWC People and Change Partner, John Karren, is how industry sustains its current workforce. “They are afraid to let workers go because they might not come back in such a tight labor market. Laying off thousands of workers would mean they might go to other industries. Karren outlined the many steps employers should be taking including establishing return-to-work protocols and training. Cleaning and social distancing will remain important because the 2018 Influenza Pandemic came in three waves.
Bruno pointed to Spirit AeroSystems which is now trying to find jobs for its workforce in other companies in hopes they will remain in Wichita and be available to return once this is all over.
“Talent was always rare, and it is even rarer now if you believe the industry’s future is strong,” said Bruno.
Scott Dratch, chair, Workforce Policy Council, Aerospace Industries Association advised employers to talk to their customers to determine expected production and maintenance workflows and to help develop the framework for returning to work.
"Investing in workforce is still important," said Karren. “How do we invest in workforce as those workplace changes happen,” he asked, adding employers needed to develop strategies on how to invest in the development of their people and what new training will be necessary. How do we shape young professionals who are experiencing their first industry crisis? This is not only how to get them back to work but in getting them back to working differently. This includes not only physical safety but mental safety by using employee assistance programs, adding telemedicine to the benefit package. One company secured a contract with Uber Eats to ensure families are taken care of.”
Dratch said companies are experimenting with adopting new technologies such as augmented reality. Other new technologies will be enabled with 5G and employers need to think about incorporating them into the Post-Covid workplace. Working virtually will be part of the future and companies also need to develop strategies for that, added Karren, who reported productivity has remained high despite working from home.
Dratch advised employers to read a National Defense University paper Weathering the Storm Leading Your Organization Through a Pandemic, calling it an ideal resource for employers.
“In 2013, open jobs numbered just of 19,000,” said Moderator Carole Rickard Hedden, executive editor, Aviation Week Executive Intelligence. “Today it is 55,000 and companies are poaching each other’s employees so there is an increased emphasis on retaining employees. We are seeing young professionals seeking jobs but mostly within their own companies.”
In addition, aerospace companies are very much pressing forward on internships, considered lifeblood of the talent pipeline. Fifty-four percent of webinar attendees plan to honor their job and internship offers.
But that raises other questions, said Karren, such as the development of virtual internship programs that are meaningful and productive.
Stay tuned for updates on everything ATEC members need to know as well as ways that you can help the council and the AMTS community.