By Julie TempleBirkett Long HR
JFK is quoted as saying, “when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” 

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Summer/Autumn 2020

Protecting the Director


For most of us, the ‘crisis’ stage of the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Businesses and employees now have time to reflect on what has happened and prepare for what is to come

Decisions have been made and seemingly impossible questions are yet to be answered. As an employer and an individual, the pandemic has presented us with opportunities. The big question is whether we take them and come out of the other side stronger for it. 

So, should newly adopted – and in many cases quickly rolled out – technology change how, where and when we work, and how we do business in the future? And will large workplaces, rows of workstations and any length of daily commute become things of the past? 

These are just a couple of questions businesses and individuals will continue to muse over in the days, weeks, and months to come. 

Coping with change

Keeping up with the ever-moving goalposts of lockdown has been exhausting, but you must now plan, trial, and tweak the ‘new’ normal. Business might be busier than ever, or it might be touch and go, or it might be in between; whichever boat you are in, there are tough decisions and challenges ahead. 

Staffing considerations

When it comes to your staff, you might be considering getting ahead of flexible working requests or restructuring the workforce. You may be thinking about making redundancies or recruiting to make the most of opportunities that have presented themselves. 

Whilst writing this, I’m reminded of something I posted on LinkedIn just after lockdown: “These are difficult and unprecedented times. I encourage everyone to remember, once the dust settles (which it will), we will be judged by our actions. Memories are long, so think carefully before you act.” 

It is crucial to remember that the situation will, and has, improved for many. Things will start to return to normal or, at least, a ‘new’ normal. As an employer, although it is important to consider how you will balance books and retain a profit, it’s all too easy to overlook the investment that you have made in each employee and what they have contributed in the past. 

Think carefully about how you manage new recruitment

Recruitment costs alone are not insubstantial and that is before you consider the time taken to interview, induct and train the employee. Then factor in what the next recruit might be like when you have turned the corner. In times of crisis, employers must work hard to protect their investment in the employment relationship and remember, at every stage, even the smallest gesture and doing things the ‘right way’, legally and morally, will go a long way and leave lasting positive memories. 

We are here to support you

I and my team are working from home, but we are available to talk. If you have a question about HR or employment law issues, I would much rather you ask it and we spend some time having a free chat, than not. There are enough things to worry about at the moment; don’t let that niggle be one of them. 


Julie Temple is Partner and Head of BLHR and Employment Team at Birkett Long LLP E: T: 01206 217318 or visit:

Share This


WHEN RELEASED WE WILL SEND YOU THE latest digital version.