The Future of COVID-19, and What Employers Need to Prepare for Next

The International Organization of Employers (IOE) held a high-level digital conference bringing together top United Nations (UN) officials and business leaders to discuss “Covid-19: What Employers Need to Prepare for Next.”

On Thursday, 25 February, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) held a high-level digital conference bringing together top United Nations (UN) officials and business leaders to discuss “Covid-19: What Employers Need to Prepare for Next.” Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, the world of work has been upended, with a massive shift to a distributed work environment and decrease in international assignments. Yet, there’s hope on the horizon as more people get vaccinated and we see increased cooperation between governments, businesses, and civil society to ensure that 2021 and beyond sees a safe return to work.

Hard Truths Remain

Leaders from such prominent organizations as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Office (ILO) came together to discuss how employers can continue to lead the way in the safe return to work. But first, the speakers reiterated the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Even as vaccine production increases, it’s important to remember that 80% of vaccinations are in 10 countries, representing the need for greater, and more equitable, distribution of the vaccine.

Further, the need for a “preventive culture” is greater than ever before, or a culture that prioritizes health and safety measures including everything from testing to mental health and wellbeing. Additionally, the pandemic has ultimately highlighted global inequities, such as gender inequality at work, and any hope for the future relies not just on vaccination but a global reimagining of health and human rights. To move forward, it is more important than ever to take lessons learned and to not revert back to normal, but create a new one.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

While these sobering truths remain, the speakers equally expressed hope and confidence for the future. Great strides have already been made, and much success has to do with leadership from employers. Reversing economic damage, getting people back to work, and moving beyond the pandemic puts employers around the world in the spotlight for the role they will continue to play in leadership and education.

Indeed, employers will not just be the ones getting the workforce moving again, but will continue to be educators of credible health information. Employers will also be a trusted source for vaccinations, as some workforces could potentially serve as a vaccination location for their employees. Going forward, employers will need to be a resource, and with this comes even greater responsibility not just to create jobs, but to create safe ones.

Accomplishing this will take international cooperation between governments, businesses, and even civil society. Consider it a multisectoral collaboration of information, communication, and engagement around business, with employers demonstrating key leadership. Through it all, mobility will play an even greater role as part of the international exchange of vaccines, education, resources, and ultimately, people. As we move beyond the pandemic, critical roles will need to be filled, and the workforce mobility industry will be on the frontlines, demonstrating that mobility is where work is going.

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