Workforce strategies for post COVID-19 recovery

The bridge from responding to the crisis to preparing to thrive in a new normal

Insights for organisations moving beyond responding to the immediate crisis, towards strategies for accelerating recovery, and a framework to help HR leaders plan for what they need now to maintain business continuity, while anticipating future demands.

An Irish perspective

Since the onset of COVID-19, organisations’ first priority has been crisis response. Now, as organisations begin to emerge from this response phase, leaders are focussing on the next set of workforce challenges as they plan for the recovery.

On 1st May, the Government published a roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society. From 18th May, Ireland will reopen in a phased way consisting of five stages for unlocking restrictions, at three week intervals, while the rate of the virus will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Government.


Business as usual?

As businesses and services in different industries are given the green light to begin to reopen, it is important to realise that the recovery won’t be static. It will not occur on a specific date. COVID-19 is unlikely to end suddenly given the lack of available therapeutics and the uncertain prospects and timing of a vaccine. Many organisations are therefore planning for multiple scenarios and time horizons as they shift from crisis response to recovery. Many are also planning for the possibility of multiple waves of the pandemic and its continuing global – uneven – footprint. As a result, we expect it will be a gradual transition from the respond phase to a new reality.

To do so, it helps to think of this recovery process as a spectrum of options. Some organisations are hiring or expanding and others contracting. Some may bring more employees back to the workplace while others are still working remotely, perhaps permanently. Other organisations, especially those that expanded during the crisis, may reduce their workforce or adapt to new environments. Leaders should ask how they will integrate additional workers in the future, what services might be added or changed as a result, and what other operations may be maintained in a remote capacity.

The answers to these types of questions will help organisations redefine their workforces and set the direction to thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic.

As described in this point-of-view document, we believe that workforce strategies in this recovery period are best orchestrated through five critical actions: Reflect, Recommit, Re-engage, Rethink, and Reboot.

Topics covered in this report include:

  • How the social enterprise, purpose, potential, and perspective play a role in shaping the path to recovery
  • Critical workforce priorities for the next 12 to 24 months
  • Considerations for the new way of working
  • Managing cybersecurity in the workforce recovery process



You can also refer to our companion piece, a workforce strategies workbook. This workbook provides a framework to help HR leaders plan for what they need now to maintain business continuity, while anticipating future demands.

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