Written by Michael Sippitt and

For more details please contact us

There are good reasons to encourage the idea that today’s redundant employee may become tomorrow’s employer.

There is a need for a vibrant Small and Medium Enterprise sector in just about every country, and public policies are often aimed at promoting this sector as the overall greatest source of employment.

Against this background, worldwide job losses caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) have been gigantic. In the second quarter of 2020, The Economist reports, one-sixth of young people worldwide lost their jobs, while working hours also fell by nearly a quarter for the rest.

The huge numbers of people in rich economies losing jobs or usual working hours this year is well known, and less advantaged economies are shrinking, evidently pushing some 89m people into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank as reported by The Economist.

Bringing this close to home, a lot of Human Resource professionals have spent much time this year on terminating employment of many colleagues. It is also sadly far from over.

One opportunity that seldom gets attention in these reorganisation and redundancy processes is encouraging some redundant colleagues to consider starting a business of their own which may in time employ others. If only a small proportion of redundant employees were able to do this then job opportunities for many more can be expected to result.

Just talking about such an idea to employees might at first get little credit, and may seem far fetched to employees anxious to earn a living. However, a facilitated programme offering some examples of success, business financial planning, basic organisational and marketing skills, information about potential support by any available grants or investment, and some good business coaching by suitable managers with relevant experience or external coaches, could be on offer to redundant employees as part of a serious endeavour to help them recover from their job loss. Just a small proportion taking this up would have an impact over time. Just giving people a redundancy pay-off may do little to help if they have little or no hope of new employment based on their sector or experience.

These issues are increasingly important anyway because of the rise of AI and automation. There is every likelihood that these structural changes to the labour market were going to happen across much of the world within one generation, but the impact of the pandemic could well now accelerate what would have happened over the next couple of decades, and the loss of jobs from these huge changes as well as the pandemic could be devastating for so many.

There appears no serious alternative to encouraging as many displaced employees as possible to consider starting their own businesses, ideally good sustainable ones that will stand the test of time. There will be many employees who cannot even consider this, but for everyone’s sake the more decent new businesses start up the better. It is the best hope for more resilient and diversified economies.

Forbury People, alongside various other experienced providers, can offer helpful know-how in business start up planning and in the various factors that can also help make a business idea investment ready.