Between a rock and a hard place
The first month of 2021 has presented itself a continuation of 2020. Although, we have been battling since the previous year to keep the notorious COVID-19 virus under control, our fight so far this year has intensified and has produced casualties of war. Even so, some argue that despite the spike in positive cases and now COVID-19 deaths, business leaders appear less proactive than they were when they were first introduced to the virus. In the early months of 2020 when St. Vincent and the Grenadines recorded less than 20 positive cases, many organisations admirably led the way to install hand-washing stations and provided masks and sanitizers to their employees. Additionally, recognising that proper sanitation alone would not sufficiently fight this plague; business leaders demonstrated a genuine care for their human resource by staggering their staff, introducing staff rotation, work from home options and shorter business hours.
Almost 12 months down the road, it may appear that much of the same leaders are reluctant to forgo economic gain in exchange for the health and safety of employees. However, hindsight is 20-20 and these leaders have experienced the impact of the previous initiatives taken. They are now very aware of the many challenges that bombard employees as they attempted to be productive at home while having to be parents, home school teachers and employees at the same time. Many of these employees do not have the resources to facilitate working from home and many corporate leaders have exhausted their contingency fund by refusing to lay-off workers despite reduced revenue. Additionally, for some employees, productivity is absent when supervision is scarce.
Consequently, it may not be that leaders are unwilling to be proactive. In this instance, the solution does not rest solely on the leaders. Consideration must also be given to the economic state of our corporations. Therefore, although the work environment was not designed for the social distancing required between employees, and some employees have to commute to work in public transport that are often cramped like sardine cans despite recommendations, maybe the leaders reluctance to err on the side of caution can be justified, in specific cases.
The situation to which businesses are currently confronted with is a difficult one, because the easiest and safest options may well be the straws that break the back of our economy.
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