Swiss-born British philosopher Alain de Botton wrote: “a good half of the art of living is resilience”. Under normal circumstances, I would agree with him. But resilience has taken up so much of our lives over the last year, that it hardly feels like half.
We’ve witnessed all kinds of resilience during these months of grief, hardship, and uncertainty. The term has surely been used and abused, not least because it would have been virtually impossible for individuals and businesses alike to cope as resiliently without proper support. For better or worse, however, there’s no denying that the word has particular pertinence during this moment in history.
The impact of Covid-19 has been felt by all organisations around the world, unleashing a new era of change for some and wiping others off the map altogether. Optimism has indeed been at a premium, fluctuating as new vaccines and coronavirus variants have come on the scene.
Yet the last 24 hours have sent out new signals of hope in the UK. Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco found more than half of British firms (56%) plan to hire new staff in the first three months of 2021, chiefly among those in the healthcare, finance and insurance, education, and ICT sectors.
The same polling also shows redundancy intention among the 2,000 companies surveyed dropped from 30% to 20%, compared with the previous three-month period. In Scotland, only 10% of respondents expect to reduce staff, down 20% compared with last summer.
The pace of the vaccine rollout coupled with the expectation of a period of economic recovery later in the year are the two main reasons for rising confidence.
Arguably, however, the roadmaps through and out of lockdown, and an extension of the furlough scheme beyond the end of April will prove decisive, especially for the hospitality industry, which has been the worst hit, accounting for a third of the job losses.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, unveiled the first of such roadmaps in the UK yesterday – a four-step plan that could see all restrictions lifted in England by 21 June, if strict conditions are met. All being well, shops, hairdressers, gyms, and outdoor hospitality could be reopened on 12 April, according to the plan.
North of the border, Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce Scotland’s own strategy for relaxing restrictions in a ministerial statement later this afternoon. That is when we’ll know whether the Scottish government, which is committed to ensuring this is “the last lockdown”, will take a more cautious approach to England once again.
With our collective resilience under considerable long-term pressure, and nine days to go until the chancellor of the exchequer delivers his budget, we’ll take all the doses of optimism and support we can get.