“Boosting employment and relaunching the business: some reflections for action”

The Family Business Institute (IEF), an entity linked to the Catalan Association of Family Businesses (ASCEF), and the IESE Business School have prepared a discussion paper on the strategies for exiting the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The paper, which has already been sent to the Spanish Prime Minister and the country’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, sets out as benchmark indicators the maintenance of employment, the preservation of the productive fabric and the boosting of viable companies. It also considers that any solution proposed will inevitably involve companies and public-private collaboration.

Entitled “Boosting employment and relaunching the company: some reflections for action”, the paper is the result of a process of analysis in which the following have participated: Simón Pedro Barceló, Juan Corona, Marc Puig and Francisco Riberas for the IEF and Antonio Argandoña, Jordi Canals, Javier Díaz Giménez, Franz Heukamp, Nuria Mas, Pedro Nueno, Alfredo Pastor, Juan José Toribio, Pedro Videla and Xavier Vives for the IESE. Its conclusions are supported by data from a survey conducted among more than 550 companies from all over Spain, virtual meetings with 56 employers and senior company managers, and a wide-ranging vision of the specific problems of 16 important sectors of the Spanish economy.

Designing five core policies

The paper considers that to relaunch the Spanish economy it is necessary to design five core policies:

  • Adaptation of jobs to the new reality: temporary lay-offs (ERTE) require a more functional framework to adapt to the needs of each sector and company, with faster, more flexible solutions.
  • Boosting of training for employment, aimed at improving productivity and digitisation. In EU countries with greater experience in the temporary regulation of employment, training is vital to ensure future employability.
  • Liquidity and financial structure of companies: a lack of liquidity can become a problem of solvency and engulf the company. New mechanisms must be found to assist companies that commit to maintaining employment over time.
  • Fostering of the entrepreneurial spirit: direct injection of capital temporarily into entrepreneurship projects, linked to certain requirements. Spain cannot do without its entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Fiscal policy: adapt the tax burden for companies and families and make it more flexible over time. Fight against fraud and improve management of public spending. Efficiency, transparency and accountability.

It also places emphasis on the fact that the fight against the pandemic must be relentless. There will be no economic recovery if companies cannot work safely. Public-private collaboration is also essential in this area. Companies have garnered a wealth of experience throughout this crisis and must be prepared in case of a flare-up.

Confidence, collaboration and international perspective

The authors also believe that there are three key concepts on which any relaunch strategy must be based:

  • Confidence: a clear, solvent plan that is supported by all will enable citizens to regain lost confidence.
  • Collaboration: It is essential for everyone – political parties, companies and social agents – to collaborate, as is already being done successfully in countries such as Germany, Sweden, France or Italy. Issues of general interest must prevail over any specific consideration. This is why the creation of a working group with representation at the highest level is proposed; in the business, economic and social spheres, in which members of the Government, employers and executives of leading companies, economic experts and social agents all participate. This group must draw up a rigorous diagnosis and design a project to relaunch the economy and business activity within a period of 5 or 6 weeks from its formation. Its work is intended to be a complement to that carried out by the Reconstruction Commission recently created in the Congress of Deputies, together with the permanent dialogue taking place in the framework of industrial relations between the Ministry of Work, trades unions and business associations.
  • International perspective: Europe will design its recovery support plans and Spain cannot afford to be left out. Therefore, our country needs to attend the European negotiations with a solid plan, one that is supported by all.