Eight drivers of change

Eight drivers of change: Covid-19


Covid-19 arrived suddenly at the beginning of 2020, with dramatic implications for both personal health and the economic health of nations across the globe – and also major consequences for the workplace.

Nearly two years later, as we emerge from Covid restrictions (at least in the UK), it seems clearer by the day that the virus is endemic. Society and employers will need to adapt to a different world from now on and the threats to health and the short and long-term economic outlook remain unpredictable.

Covid-19 has changed behaviours and will continue to do so. It will also demonstrate potential new ways of living and working and act as a catalyst for other drivers of change. At the same time, it will operate as a major economic disruptor, placing continued burdens on health and social care and increasing personal, business and government debt.

Economies appear to have escaped the worst fears about catastrophic job losses, not least on account of rapid and unprecedented government intervention such as the UK’s furlough scheme (see role of the state – state intervention; and emerging themes – labour market). Economies have bounced back but further waves of infection have created more uncertainty. Severe shortages of certain workers have caused serious issues for the UK economy, partly as a result of workers being quarantined, on furlough or voluntarily changing careers because of Covid-19. This has combined with other drivers of change, such as an absence of skilled EU migrants who fulfilled many important jobs (see migration – EU migration), globalisation (see globalisation - supply issues both from and beyond the EU) and demographics (see demographics - less students working), to create significant gaps between supply and demand in sectors such as hospitality and logistics.