Toward the New Normal

The cessation of the bubonic plague that decimated Europe and Asia in the 14th Century also put an end to serfdom and led to a period of economic prosperity. More than that, the end of the Dark Ages created a pathway that eventually led to the Age of Enlightenment.

That something positive could come out of the current Covid-19 crisis is a reassuring thought. And we do have some ready evidence of a more empathetic, kinder and compassionate world emerging; however, too much optimism may be rather misplaced. We are much more likely to see a range of outcomes, some positive and some not. 

In the world of work, we can readily envisage the crisis acting as an accelerant to certain market trends that already existed, for example, more remote working, staffing network reductions, growing interest in total talent solutions and investment in automation.

The cost of labor is likely to come under closer scrutiny and more openness from employers to embrace contingent forms of work. Good news for staffing firms and online staffing platforms perhaps, but less so for those looking for a full-time job.

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Ever-mindful of cost, staffing firms will be more willing to offer self-service models to their clients where the role of the recruitment consultant is minimized and artificial intelligence acts as the client intermediary as well as the primary agent for candidate engagement. 

Major crises and disasters tend to expose wider societal problems and can lead to major change. For instance, in the current crisis there seems to be an emerging consensus that healthcare professionals and certain other workers have been under-appreciated and under-paid. Whether this consensus translates into meaningful change once the crisis abates remains to be seen. 

Worryingly, crisis responses are just as likely to set us on a darker path. Experts in crisis studies suggest, for instance, that such situations tend to inflame xenophobia and racial scapegoating. It is, sadly, too easy imagining that the post-coronavirus world is one where unemployment is an endemic issue leading to more social inequality and industrial unrest, where nationalism is mainstream and borders become more restricted.

If there is one thing that does look absolutely certain, it is that taxes will increase. The unprecedented government subsidies we are witnessing are not sustainable in the medium- to long-term. So, in the sunny uplands of the recovery, who’s going to have to pay for the impact of the crisis? Why, it’s you of course! Over the next decade, we’ll be looking back with fondness to the first two decades of the 21st Century – a golden age for personal and business taxes.

Let’s hope that, on balance, the new normal that eventually emerges from all of this is weighted toward the more positive outcomes. And let’s hope that business leaders and politicians play a proactive role in helping that to happen. 

More of This Ahead

  • Remote work
  • Contingent work
  • Automation: RPA & Robotics
  • Nationalism
  • Disaster Recovery preparedness
  • Neighborliness
  • Insecurity
  • Staffing office network reductions
  • Appreciation of ‘low-skilled,’ low-wage work
  • Debit and credit card transactions
  • Distrust of authority
  • Total talent solutions
  • Unemployment
  • Babies
  • Self-service recruitment models
  • Surveillance
  • Border controls
  • Industrial unrest
  • Outsourcing and offshoring
  • Empathy
  • Investment in health
  • HR Tech investment
  • Taxation
  • M&A
John Nurthen

John Nurthen
John Nurthen is Executive Director, Global Research at Staffing Industry Analysts He can be reached at jnurthen (at) staffingindustry (dot) com

John Nurthen

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