soThe outbreak of COVID-19 has severely affected the world’s economy. It is witnessing a cascading effect with no ray of hope. This mega-disaster has turned the world upside down.

This pandemic has hit almost every sector.

Talent acquisition, one of the most demanding fields, is observing a paradigm shift. The fear among the people and the national concern related to the rise in unemployment is because of the huge downfall in the economy. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has taken us a decade behind of all the initiatives that public and private entities might have taken. A part of this downfall can be taken care of once the economy bounces back, but a part of it will still remain unaddressed.

The businesses that were flourishing are now facing losses and a few of them are even struggling to survive. Recovering from this will no doubt take a lot of time. Every industry and organization will take different amounts of time to get around the curve.

Let’s have a look at the impact of COVID-19 on employees and employment globally –

COVID-19 has created a completely different & unprecedented scenario that the businesses never planned for or envisaged. From practicing social distancing to wearing masks, this pandemic has impacted several aspects of our existence. This slipping global economy is raising several questions on healthcare infrastructure. On top of it, India has already been struggling and trying its best to tackle the problem of unemployment and this situation has raised its ugly head in a very abrasive manner.

The global rate of unemployment has jumped from 4.94% to 14.7% from the previous years. In India, the situation is more serious as unemployment stands at 23.5% (as of May 2020) from the previous years 7.7%. This is one of the major issues that the country needs to deal with as it can lead to many other problems like malnutrition, increase in crimes, mental illness like anxiety, depression, etc. So, the government needs to plan an immediate strategy to tackle this, before it gets out of control.

Let’s look at one of the most important aspects that shape the future of the country – Engaging India’s young talent and employment

With despair all around and a total paradigm shift in how HR should function, here are a few ways by which we can contribute to create a positive impact.

A) Compassion and empathy should be prioritized, it is the need of the hour. Organisations should work towards mitigating the impacts of the slowdown and should try to boost the morale of the employees and job seekers alike

B) Companies that would have hiring requirements should give preference to the ones who might have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19. The recruiters should plan the hiring process in a way that they strategize certain percentage of the hiring towards supporting those who are impacted by the COVID-19. The recruiters should see them as the victim of the pandemic & not as someone who lost his/her jobs due to performance.

C) One of the ways to support them could also be to allow them to properly evaluate all the opportunities for around two weeks with your respective organisations and let them review the work they are expected to do. This will also help the hiring managers to do a fitness assessment as well as identify the skill set gaps that are involved. This might make the process transparent and allow the acceptance of rejection of employment by reducing the negative mental impact and disappointment.

D) Not all exits in COVID-19 are due to performance, some are due to the change in companies’ strategies or due to sustainability reasons. So, it is very important that companies give equal opportunities to all without being biased. Test and hire them on the basis of their capabilities.

It is very disheartening to see all the social media platforms, mostly LinkedIn, flooded by the posts of people who have lost jobs due to COVID-19. Many professionals are going through hard time these days and are struggling to find a job. Several professionals are impacted by the pay cuts. The HR team members could make a list of all such professionals relevant to their respective organisations. This could likely be an immediately available talent pool

D) We cannot expect the government to tackle it all alone, we need to contribute and support. We could make the sectoral clusters like IT, healthcare, agriculture, construction, infrastructure, telecom, etc. & then follow a unified approach towards analyzing the overall unemployment in each sector. Once all the challenges are identified, we can make attempts to address the challenge together.

The HR professionals need to transform themselves to be a career coach from just being a recruiter. They need to go beyond being a message conveyor and guide the impacted professionals on what is best for them during these times and how they can succeed without being distressed. HR professionals need to be more empathetic and compassionate towards these professionals. Here’s what they can do to help the employees –

  • Put people first & the economies second as much possible
  • Try to develop a rapid response team that can help anyone who is in need, least provide quick response to candidates
  • Develop a program to educate, empower and train the people at large. Schedule webinars with internal leadership members for the industry at large so that everyone who is impacted due to the pandemic on the job front benefits and stays engaged by building knowledge
  • Remind candidates and employees alike that they don’t need to work 24*7 and should take proper rest, breaks etc
  • Despite all the negativity around, communicate with a positive growth spirit
  • Build database of such impacted professional, cross share the list with other organisations in similar industry, so that at least some people find jobs and benefit
  • Organisation could evaluate sponsoring some kind of  online course(s) for candidates in the database
  • Get all such candidates to participate pro-bono on to some projects either for ideation or brain storming etc. Provide them with reference letters / certificates for their work. It would be very motivating for them to get paid for the work they do but keeping minds engaging is top priority

Let’s tackle this difficult phase together!