HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

HR news this week: Recession, heatwaves and executives

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

This week’s round-up of HR news criticises work-from-home (WFH) policies and how if continued, could slip us into recession. Meanwhile, heatwaves are forcing organisations to rethink strategy, and people want HR to have a seat at the decision-making table.

WFH and recession

What do COVID-19, Barbenheimer, WFH, and the next financial crisis have to do with each other?


As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), the pandemic is behind us. Unemployment is at record lows, stock markets at record highs, and the author was able to snag a ticket to both Barbie and Oppenheimer on the opening weekend.

However, the one hang on that isn’t getting back to normal is working from home. Depending on who you ask, this can be seen as a good or bad thing.

Good for worker morale, flexibility, and wellbeing. On the other hand, it’s bad for businesses that rely on office workers, relationship building and, according to SMH, the economy.

With office spaces vacant due to WFH policies, loans are unable to be paid back, causing a loss in revenue for banks. Some are worried that this could fuel a recession.

There are a couple of options we have to address these issues. One: get people back into the office. Two: repurpose these office spaces into housing, which could, in turn, help ease the housing crisis.

Either way, something needs to be done if we’re to avoid a recession.

Heatwaves and work

The heatwaves that are rocking the northern hemisphere have opened discussions on the future of work. According to BBC Worklife, excess heat could affect jobs as we run the risk of health issues.

John P Abraham, professor of thermal sciences at the University of St Thomas School of Engineering in the US, said: “What used to be a one- to two-day heatwave is now three to five days. People who can handle a day or two of excess heat will have many more problems with longer durations.”

Outdoor and non-cooled indoor environments will struggle with soaring temperatures, which may force employers to adjust processes to keep employees safe.

“Working outdoors in the heat will require shorter shifts with more breaks, and more overnight work,” said Mr Abraham.

Another response could be the shortening of work days: “Contemporary work arrangements like remote work, hybrid work, four-day weeks … and six-hours-a-day working days in a week instead of eight hours are proving to be helpful in heatwave situations,” said Mansoor Soomro, senior lecturer in sustainability and international business, leadership, management and human resources at Teesside University International Business School in the UK.

BBC Worklife said employers could do their part to protect employees by conducting periodic heat-risk assessments. Heat-related health and wellbeing initiatives could also be beneficial. With climate change persisting, government intervention may be needed to adjust workplace legislation.

HR and executives

CIPD calls on employers to give HR leaders a seat at the decision-making table in a bid to increase emotional intelligence, as reported by Personnel Today.

According to The value of people expertise on corporate boards report by CIPD, just 2 per cent of corporate boards have an HR director on board in the UK.

CIPD said this lack of HR representation creates issues within the cultures of businesses, and introducing more HR professionals into executive positions could reduce reports of misogyny, sexual harassment, and sexism.

The report claims that a lack of HR representation undermines corporate goals and creates issues with people within organisations.

It may be time to rethink leadership and give employees a voice through an HR director.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.