In an era where decisions are being driven so much by fear of the uncertain, external directives are impacting the welfare of our business and economy. Employers are often missing out on outstanding workers who would have amplified their business performance, simply because they feel they have no other choice but to comply with mandates.
Working around mandates is proving a complex and daunting experience for both employers and employees. Some businesses may be at least surviving... some of them... but what of those valued employees who are now out of work and struggling to find an alternative option and what of those businesses who were struggling to find staff even before the mandates and now... are struggling to even keep afloat due to be insufficiently staffed.
Almost every day, I am talking with someone who has either lost a job because of the ‘vaccine’ mandates or has been turned down because of not meeting a vaccine mandate. I have also spoken to business owners who are devastated at being forced to let excellent, long-standing employees go because of a temporary mandate.
Having said this there are also a number of businesses who do not meet the criteria for mandates that are following them by choice.
This is a very touchy subject for some, but let’s look at this objectively and get our critical thinking kicking into gear.
1. What is a mandate?
A mandate is a temporary authority, while an emergency declaration is in place and is only enforceable if put in place by a governing authority. It is worth mentioning that a mandate cannot override any existing laws. Also, all laws and mandates will need to follow the rule established in the ‘constitution’ or in the case of New Zealand, The Treaty of Waitangi.
As business owners it is important to always look at safeguarding our business... however we need to be mindful that we do not implement ‘mandates’ that are not in line with the emergency declaration. By placing mandates in business that are outside of these, you are exposing your business to legal comeback based on discriminating outside of the boundaries of a government placed mandate.
A mandate is there to protect during a time of emergency declaration. Mandates can only be implemented by an authority that relates to the state of emergency i.e. Department of Health when relating to a pandemic.
2. Why do businesses choose to follow a mandate?
In most cases it is not a choice, but are having the mandates forced upon them. When a country goes through crippling economic restrictions, it is a normal human response to go into survival mode. However, being a state of emergency is only a temporary ‘state’ and ongoing issues with the initial catalyst of said emergency, at some point, become a new norm. At the point, where we simply have to learn to live with it and manage it, it no longer falls under a ‘state of emergency’ and mandates can then no longer be enforceable.
Just because some industries are being told they must comply, does not give the authority for any business owner to implement the same restrictions, in order to appease nervous customers, or appear to be promoting a popular perspective. There are still laws to protect employees that we need to mindful of. Failure to do so can result in being held legally accountable.
Aside from legal implication, when we put restrictions in a business, it also puts restrictions on who we can hire, and suffocates the creativity in a team. This can be extremely detrimental to a business as we are then making decisions based on who meets the mandate rather than who is the best person to enhance the business or how we can operate in a competitive market.
3. What is it we are ‘protecting against’?
A pandemic that was highly infectious absolutely required an immediate response. Over time we have been able to determine the actual threat vs the expected threat and the time to re-evaluate our stand is now. The much talked about Omicron may be very contagious but the symptoms are extremely mild and are showing to be nothing more serious than the common cold. Obviously, those that have other health conditions may react more so due to these other conditions but in a normal state of health, it is mild in comparison to what was expected of Covid.
It would seem, that what we are protecting our businesses against, is no longer the threat we were once anticipating. Blindly continuing to accept the state of emergency and now outdated mandates seems ludicrous.
Covid gave us all a scare and the authorities have flooded mainstream media with consistent reassurance that it is a threat. Medical professionals are divided, scientists are conflicted, and we are being told that we should blindly trust the government without asking questions.
Asking questions is what critical thinkers do. As business owners it is essential for our existence that we continue to be critical thinkers. What I am saying is that we need to look at everything objectively and ask questions, analyse the potential impact on business, and make a business decision, not one based on fear or because we are given ultimatums. It is your business, your money, your employees that will suffer if you do not continue asking questions.
4. What are the risks of continuing as we are?
Knowing that mandates are only valid during a state of emergency, and that the emergency of initially addressing the pandemic is no longer required, we need to future proof our business so that we survive the storm. While the storm is blowing, we see ‘sense’ in following the mandates, but often overlook how doing so can impact our future ability for the business to exist…
a. The government have made it clear that they will not be held liable for employment decisions, as a result of the mandates, so this will be all on you. Be very careful in supporting discriminatory decisions as it will be you, not the government, who will be held accountable.
b. The longer the business community is complying with mandates that do not support business, the longer the economic recovery will take.
c. We employ staff based on their ‘compliance’ rather than getting the best person for the job. Effectively, downgrading the quality of our workforce by doing so.
d. We adopt the mandates to make a ‘healthier community’, yet support an economic decline by doing so, thereby negating the intention
e. We are seeing a massive increase in mental health issues in our communities as a result of, not only the fear around anticipated Covid risks, but to the unnecessary ostracizing and rejection of hard working, intelligent people who are being made out to now be second class citizens. Totally illogical and mean spirited.
5. So how do we invoke change?
There are a few ways that a mandate can be overturned.
a) It can go the Supreme Court. This will often mean arguing that the mandate was invalid and given low health impact of the virus now, this could be argued to be the case now. There are legal cases being processed right now and adding our voices will help to have our country move beyond the pandemic.
b) A law can be passed to limit the power of the government agency. This is not likely to happen in this situation due to the department of health being the instigator of the mandates
c) Once a mandate has been overturned, it can’t be enforced
Change is not always a painless process but often necessary. During the big wars, loss was inevitable yet recovery happened over time. You might say we are not in a war so that’s not relevant. Well war does not always come with guns and bombs. War is sometimes psychological and results in the oppression of innocent people.
With the number of people whose lives have been destroyed because of loss of work, inability to access basic health support i.e. physio or chiropractors etc., and even losing their homes because they do not have a vaccine passport, I think it is pretty clear that this is relevant.
Risks of not making a change for the better:
· Productivity drop due to mental health issues of staff - ‘feeding the fear’ unnecessarily by supporting irrelevant mandates
· Slow decline in performance due to the loss of having these high calibre employees
· Can you live with yourself knowing that by condoning the rejection of fellow New Zealanders based on their personal health choice, you are directly responsible for creating a divide in our country, subjecting them to ridicule, financial ruin, health issues, and a negative culture foreign to Kiwis.
· In a business world where giving something back to community is so important, continuing with divisive mandates will damage your reputation as someone who cares about community
Contribute your voice to the rising opposition to these mandates we are currently seeing. If we do not stand up for change, our economy will continue to struggle, we will continue to be dictated as to who we can hire, and we will only create a harmful culture for our children to grow up in.
In a world where having a competitive edge requires innovative thinking, out of the box creativity, and passion, mandates are proving to be like water on a fire. When business owners, allow someone else to dictate how they run their business, it is like raising a white flag and surrendering the future of your business to someone else’s dictatorship. This is your livelihood, it is the livelihood of your employees, and it is the future success of your investment that is now being controlled by someone with no vested interest.
So much damage has already happened, what we need now is to work together to ensure not only our economic recovery, but our future success.