Decoding the 2022 Federal Budget
The latest Federal Budget, whatever side of politics you are on, should make all employers aware of the challenges they will face through at least the rest of 2022.
In brief, employers are heading into a perfect storm of challenges around staff attraction and retention, cost management and low productivity – but there is real opportunity too, provided they take the right approach to how they treat their staff.
Let’s take a look at a few of the key numbers from the Budget which employers (from mining, to banking, retail, the public sector and logistics and transport) will be keenly analysing in coming days and weeks.
Firstly, productivity, or specifically, labour force productivity, is tipped to remain at historically average to low levels over the coming decade – about 1.5 per cent.
Then consider that we are looking at a sustained unemployment rate of sub 4 per cent, all this means employers will this year not only will it be difficult for employers to find the loyal, skilled, committed staff they need, they will struggle to get high levels of productivity from them.
Secondly, in an economy where inflation is likely to be hard baked for most of the year at relatively high levels, there will inevitably be pressure on employers to provide higher wages, which again, will impact their bottom line.
So, all in all, not a pretty picture. This isn’t the fault of any one government, or any single factor – global geopolitical issues, higher fuel prices, and other factors, have all combined to create this mess.
What can employers do?
If they take the view that they are in competition for highly skilled staff (and increasingly, technology savvy skilled workers will be in ever higher demand in all industries), and that they want to KEEP those workers once they train them, employers must make it really difficult for those staff to leave.
That doesn’t mean finding ways to stop them resigning of course. It means creating an environment whereby your employees will not only want to stay but be add more than 1.5 per cent to annual productivity, work hard and be rewarded.
Without losing money, however, by paying too much for staff, there is only so much that employers can do.
One thing they can control is the workforce environment – by providing their staff with clear, easy to use, predictable and safe workforce management tools. That includes, of course, ensuring that staff don’t have to worry about their wages being withheld or even worse, stolen.
For example, in a tight labour market where increasingly, technology is enabling workers to work flexible hours, and from almost anywhere (a trend accelerated by COVID19 and which is in reality, here to stay), employers must:
- Avoid the risk of wage theft by designing workforce management systems to ensure it’s impossible for staff to log in to shifts which they are not scheduled for, or are not in a specified geo-location.
- Provide staff with access to mobile based shift selection, leave application, and other tools, rather than the traditionally cumbersome, opaque and outdated methods of scheduling
- Ensure their WFM system is capable of providing real time, individualised workplace safety tools, which warn of an outbreak of a disease in the workplace (such as COVID19)
- Incorporate disaster recovery tools which can ensure that if, for example, a flood takes out some communications networks, there are fail safe communication options to ensure customers and staff can still talk to each other
This all might simple, perfect sense on paper, but the reality is, the majority of Australian private companies and public sector organisations don’t have the most up to date, Australian designed WFM tools.
At a time of low unemployment, concern about “The Great Resignation”, low productivity and rising inflation, taking care of staff is surely the most important issue to address.