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Workforce Flexibility Key To Covid Reality

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

Workforce flexibility will be key as Bahamian companies struggle to adapt to the new COVID-19 environment, human resources chiefs said yesterday.

Paul Haven, Doctor’s Hospital's human resources director, told a webinar organised by The Counsellors: “We need a workforce that is agile, and that can adopt and adapt. Those are the things that are going to cause a business to thrive or to be able to operate in this new normal."

Richenda King, Bahamas First's human resources director, added: “I think the most important thing for employers is that you want business continuity. You want a more robust, responsive organisation with increasing flexibility and one that is able to respond to challenges.

"We have looked at disruptors for a long time, technical disruptors, and things like the weather as we just came out of Hurricane Dorian. For the insurance industry that was a major disruptor - the largest ever. So we are always dealing with disruptors in the industry. Our ability to respond to these challenges now and in the future; that’s critical. With business continuity and planning you will always be able to bounce back."

Ms King continued: “Companies can do a couple of things. They can stay small and stay insulated, and they can try to be as risk-free as possible. They can scale down their business, they can do all of those things.

"I think one of the things we have done really well at Bahamas First is that we have watched the market and looked at opportunities to expand our business and grow our model - to diversify, to go into the region. So we have had the opportunity to do that, and we have done that really well.

"We have kind of integrated our business model with other models that are similar to what we have, and we have been able to grow quite well in that way. I think this is a way for companies to review their business model and position themselves to expand their footprint."

Tameka Forbes, human resources director at Atlantis, added: “I definitely agree with Richenda when she spoke about flexibility, and also with Paul in terms of adoptability and adaptability. I think organisations in tourism are really going to want to have a flexible workforce moving forward so that we can define critical roles in the organisation to increase productivity, and also to ensure that we are delivering on a stellar guest experience.

"Despite all of the physical distancing protocols and safety protocols that we have put in place, we still want to still deliver exemplary service within the industry. We want to be able to recover our business by having flexible work rules and also a flexible workforce.

"I also think what is extremely important is compliance. The organisation is going to require our team members to become compliant with those protocols, and we are going to have to reinforce those protocols every single day that we come to work because we do not want this industry to be shut back down for another six months," Ms Forbes continued.

"We want the industry to thrive. We want to get past the recovery stage and go into 2021 with a different mindset and, in order to do that, every stakeholder in tourism is going to have to become compliant with the protocols that have been put in place, understand them and understand how we deliver service in this new work world.”

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