Has COVID-19 softened Labor/Management relations?
By Dr. Larry Fedewa Washington DC, April 26, 2020
Entrepreneur extraordinaire Mark Cuban has coined the term, “America 2.0” to designate the new realities Americans will face as a result of the COVID-19 quarantine. One of those realities has been the highlighting of the interdependence of labor and management required to attain a successful business. In case after case, we have heard employers and business owners discuss the extreme measures they have undertaken to reduce the burdens on their employees as they face loss of wages and even employment. Their pleas for help have finally penetrated even the hallowed halls of Congress and the Federal Reserve.
Many are learning the lessons that John Mackey discusses in his account of the time when his Whole Foods store would have failed if not saved by the efforts of his loyal employees, suppliers and customers. (Conscious Capitalism, 2013) He discovered that the fate of his business was really in the hands of all those whom he had served so diligently. They had repaid his loyalty to them by proving they were also stakeholders in his company.
This is the prism through which we are looking at the topic of this discussion. Clearly, there are external factors as well. Before the pandemic, we were very close to a labor shortage. We were hearing pleas from recruiters to retirees and other pools of unattached workers to rejoin the workforce. Hiring and retaining a competent workforce was becoming a high priority in some industries, and critical in others. The usual effect of such a situation is an increase of the enticements to candidates or employees to hire or retain their services, including bonuses, higher wages, and enhanced benefits.