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Five Priorities for HR Leaders on the Way to Recovery

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The following content is sponsored by PwC

Workforce of the Future Workforce of the Future Workforce of the Future

Five Priorities for HR Leaders on the Way to Recovery

The future of the workplace remains uncertain, with business leaders facing unique hurdles heading into 2021. To help set the course, recent PwC reports reveal five key takeaways for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) as businesses refine their recovery strategies and transition plans.

With polling data from thousands of U.S.-based employees and executives throughout 2020, the above graphic uncovers critical priorities to help HR leaders navigate 2021—from fostering workplace safety and well-being to implementing technology that promotes engagement.

Priority 1: Physical Safety, Comfort, Health & Performance

Employee anxiety is running high, with polls revealing that employees are concerned about getting sick—and the risk discourages them from returning to the workplace.

  • 51% of employees fear getting sick from returning to the workplace
  • 50% would like workplace safety measures established, to feel comfortable returning
  • 45% would like safety and hygiene requirements implemented for customers
  • 35% would like contact tracing to be used, with realtime notifications if a coworker is diagnosed with COVID-19

By implementing measures to keep employees healthy, employees may feel more confident as companies transition back into the workplace.

Priority 2: Supporting Mental Health & Wellness

Studies show that employees perform better when they have workplace flexibility—and they can thrive when leaders support their well-being. The importance of mental health and wellness at work has increased under the weight of the pandemic.

Polling found that:

  • 36% of employees would like to see more humility, compassion, and empathic behaviors from their leadership
  • 33% would like to to see corporate investment in wellbeing programs, which would make them more confident in their ability to do their job
  • 72% would like to work remotely to some extent after the pandemic
  • 84% of CHROs intend to increase support for wellbeing and mental health

Investing in mental health can pay dividends, with the World Health Organization reporting that for every dollar spent on mental health treatment, $4 is gained in productivity.

Priority 3: Enable Remote Work with the Right Tools & Training

As employees continue to work remotely, there’s a pressing need to upgrade technology and resources required to be productive, collaborative, and create.

  • 55% of HR leaders were planning to implement hardware and equipment upgrades to help employees stay productive when working remotely
  • 53% were planning for improved mobile experiences for applications and data, as well as security policies to support remote work
  • Upwards of 36% of employees believed their organization was already very effective at collaboration and communication

With many organizations planning to incorporate some form of remote work into their long-term strategies, technology continues to be integral to support working remotely.

Priority 4: Maintain Organizational Culture for a Hybrid Workforce

Culture and engagement looked very different in the shifting landscape of 2020, and that will likely continue to evolve in 2021.

  • 41% of CHROs worry about weakened work culture in the virtual world
  • Nearly 50% have focused on employee productivity efforts on new virtual tools and training
  • 80% are planning for new employee benefits
  • 75% are planning for employee upskilling

While many remote employees report they may be more productive during the pandemic, CHROs should help confirm it’s sustainable in the long-term.

Priority 5: Leveraging Data Analytics

Studies show that better employee experiences can contribute to improved revenue growth, and PwC polls indicate that:

  • 42% of CFOs are optimizing their approach to data analytics to improve revenue
  • 35% are moving their applications and/or to the cloud
  • 40% of workplace leaders are concerned about workplace safety

As executives experience concern over whether long-term remote work could impact engagement and productivity—focus has been placed on leveraging data analytics and digital assets to quantify and help inform corporate strategies.

Opportunities on the Road to Recovery

Even with COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, uncertainty about the future of our work environments is high, posing unique challenges ahead for CHROs. However, those challenges can present strategic opportunities for work improvements—from digital assets and productivity, to mental health and well-being.

Note: All statistics are from the same PwC U.S. CFO Pulse survey unless otherwise stated. PwC surveyed 330 US CFOs and finance leaders between June 8-11, 2020. 88% percent of the respondents were from public and private companies in these top five sectors: health industries (9%), consumer markets (13%), financial services (23%), industrial products (23%), and technology, media and telecommunications (20%). Twenty-nine percent of respondents were from Fortune 1000 companies. The PwC CFO Pulse Survey is conducted on a periodic basis to track changing sentiment and priorities. Now in its sixth installment, the inaugural survey was conducted March 9-11, 2020.

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More Than Precious: Silver’s Role in the New Energy Era (Part 3 of 3)

Long known as a precious metal, silver in solar and EV technologies will redefine its role and importance to a greener economy.

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Silver More Than Precious

Silver’s Role in the New Energy Era (Part 3 of 3)

Silver is one of the first metals that humans discovered and used. Its extensive use throughout history has linked its name to its monetary value. However, as we have advanced technologically, so have our uses for silver. In the future, silver will see a surge in demand from solar and electric vehicle (EV) technologies.

Part 1 and Part 2 of the Silver Series showcased its monetary legacy as a safe haven asset as a precious metal and why now is its time to shine.

Part 3 of the Silver Series comes to us from Endeavour Silver, and it outlines silver’s role in the new energy era and how it is more than just a precious metal.

A Sterling Reputation: Silver’s History in Technologies

Silver along with gold, copper, lead and iron, was one of the first metals known to humankind. Archaeologists have uncovered silver coins and objects dating from before 4,000 BC in Greece and Turkey. Since then, governments and jewelers embraced its properties to mint currency and craft jewelry.

This historical association between silver and money is recorded across multiple languages. The word silver itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon language, seolfor, which itself comes from ancient Germanic silabar.

Silver’s chemical symbol, “Ag”, is an abbreviation of the Latin word for silver, argentum. The Latin word originates from argunas, a Sanskrit word which means shining. The French use argent as the word for money and silver. Romans bankers and silver traders carried the name argentarius.

While silver’s monetary meanings still stand today, there have been hints of its use beyond money throughout history. For centuries, many cultures used silver containers and wares to store wine, water, and food to prevent spoilage.

During bouts of bubonic plague in Europe, children of wealthy families sucked on silver spoons to preserve their health, which gave birth to the phrase “born with a silver spoon in your mouth.”

Medieval doctors invented silver nitrate used to treat ulcers and burns, a practice that continues to this day. In the 1900s, silver found further application in healthcare. Doctors used to administer eye drops containing silver to newborns in the United States. During World War I, combat medics, doctors, and nurses would apply silver sutures to cover deep wounds.

Silver’s shimmer also made an important material in photography up until the 1970s. Silver’s reflectivity of light made it popular in mirror and building windows.

Now, a new era is rediscovering silver’s properties for the next generation of technology, making the metal more than precious.

Silver in the New Energy Era: Solar and EVs

Silver’s shimmering qualities foreshadowed its use in renewable technologies. Among all metals, silver has the highest electrical conductivity, making it an ideal metal for use in solar cells and the electronic components of electric vehicles.

Silver in Solar Photovoltaics

Conductive layers of silver paste within the cells of a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell help to conduct the electricity within the cell. When light strikes a PV, the conductors absorb the energy and electrons are set free.

Silver’s conductivity carries and stores the free electrons efficiently, maximizing the energy output of a solar cell. According to one study from the University of Kent, a typical solar panel can contain as much as 20 grams of silver.

As the world adopts solar photovoltaics, silver could see dramatic demand coming from this form of renewable energy.

Silver in Electric Vehicles

Silver’s conductivity and corrosion resistance makes its use in electronics critical, and electric vehicles are no exception. Virtually every electrical connection in a vehicle uses silver.

Silver is a critical material in the automotive sector, which uses over 55 million ounces of the metal annually. Auto manufacturers apply silver to the electrical contacts in powered seats and windows and other automotive electronics to improve conductivity.

A Silver Intensive Future

A green future will require metals and will redefine the role for many of them. Silver is no exception. Long known as a precious metal, silver also has industrial applications metal for an eco-friendly future.

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Visualizing All the Known Copper in the World

Are we running out of copper? This graphic from Trilogy Metals paints a clear picture of all the copper in the world, above and underground.

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All the Copper in the World

Visualizing All the Known Copper in the World

Copper has many important applications in the modern economy. From smartphones and cars, to homes and hospitals, we use the metal almost everywhere, especially with renewable energy.

Often, consumers take for granted the accessibility to modern technology without the thought of where the materials come from or their impact on the environment. The world and its resources are finite and confined by both geography and the technology used to extract resources.

As governments and economies struggle to achieve a sustainable balance between humanity’s material impact and the health of the planet, knowing the availability of resources will become a critical pivot for achieving and maintaining that balance.

Copper is one such resource—and today’s graphic from Trilogy Metals outlines all the copper ever mined and what known resources still exist on Earth.

Are we running out of copper?

Above Ground Copper Resources

The production of mined copper has increased dramatically over the last two decades, From 9.8 million metric tons in 1995 to 20 million metric tons in 2019, a 104% rise over 25 years.

A total of 700 million metric tons of copper have been mined throughout history. Based on the 2019 average price of $6,042/metric ton, that’s worth $4.2 trillion—more than the value of Apple and Amazon combined.

Chile has been the source of the majority of the world’s copper and the biggest copper mining nation. Together, Chile, Peru, and China account for 48% of current global copper production.

RankingCountryMine Production 2019 (Ktons)CountryReserves 2019 (Ktons)
#1Chile5,600Chile200,000
#2Peru2,400Peru87,000
#3China1,600Australia87,000
#4United States1,300Russia61,000
#5Congo1,300Mexico53,000
#6Australia960United States51,000
#7Zambia790Indonesia28,000
#8Mexico770China26,000
#9Russia750Kazakhastan20,000
#10Kazakhastan700Congo19,000
#11Indonesia340Zambia19,000
Other Countries3,800Other Countries220,000
World Total20,000World Total870,000

Source: USGS

As we enter the era of renewable energy, electric vehicles, and see more global economic growth, the demand for copper will continue to rise. In fact, the Copper Alliance projects an increase of 50% in just the next 20 years.

Are We Running Out of Copper? Not So Soon

Although a large chunk of the Earth’s copper is already above ground, there’s still more to mine.

According to the USGS, identified copper resources amount to 2.1 billion metric tons, with a further 3.5 billion metric tons in undiscovered resources.

At current production rates, it would take about 105 years for us to use all of it and this does not even account for recycling or new discoveries. Copper is 100% recyclable, and nearly all of the 700 million metric tons of mined copper is still in circulation. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that we won’t be running out of copper anytime soon.

Despite copper’s apparent abundance, the red metal is expensive to actually get out of the ground. As a result, the supply of copper has often fallen short in meeting its rising demand. This, in addition to falling resource grades in Chile, the largest producer of copper, emphasizes the need for new discoveries and mines.

While there are known reserves of copper above the ground, the Earth remains largely unexplored because of the inability to explore for minerals in the depths of the oceans and other planets. As the readily available supply of copper becomes scarce, the incentive to mine currently uneconomic copper increases.

A Mineral Intense Future

Most consumers take the immediate availability of materials such as copper and other metals for granted, with little thought about whether there is enough.

But it’s important to remember that these materials are as finite as the dimensions of the Earth. In this material world, understanding what is and what is not available is critical for a sustainable future here on Earth.

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