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Corona Virus and lock down and has affected all areas but the workforce and job market has been disproportionately affected by it. All levels of employees are uncertain about their careers and financial security.
Not many people were aware of Coronavirus before 2019, though it other strains of the virus have existed for quite some time now. But the moment news channels reported incidents from Wuhan, the origin and spread of CoVid-19 became a well-known subject and saying that people learnt a lot about it, won’t be wrong at all. All media; whether main or social platforms had many theories and conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic. Within no time it spread around the world like wild fire; creating stress among the governments and the general public. People acquired the much needed information on the symptoms, precautions and safety measures to be followed. In fact telecom companies, upon government directives took it among themselves to educate the citizens through recorded messages. Electronic and print media carried out extensive awareness drives, every television channel spoke about the importance of staying home and keeping safe. Social media used it’s platforms to reach out to all its users emphasising upon the dos and don’ts. Within weeks people were well informed and most have remained indoors during lockdown, adhering to the government laws. Stepping out only to shop for essentials such as groceries, vegetables etc. Many found it easier to order these online; people are hardly buying anything else. People’s needs and the way one shopped has gone through a transformation. Professionals in the industries that deal with customers directly have been enrolling for online certification courses on Covid -19. Many from hospitality and people in security functions undergoing these courses and preparing themselves to handle their job functions when their organisations reopen for business.
When the lockdown started there was enthusiasm among people that they were home and had enough time for themselves. Many got into home workouts and also started following their hobbies but how long can that be normal? The enthusiasm dwindled with lockdown getting extended and it started having an effect on their mental health. People are getting anxious as they don’t know what to expect and their natural surrounding that is remaining indoors is adding up to the stress.
This is the time that people are using to build family bonds and connecting with friends and mentors; seeking support from them. As outings and get-together have become rarer than ever, online platforms have come in handy for connecting one another. Almost everyone is using them right from the simple video calls to more advanced training modules. People have found what works for them the best, choosing as per their requirements.
Most organisations got their staff to WFH, keeping only the much needed skeleton staffing whereas some are completely shut. With people remaining home have had dual roles of taking care of the household chores as assistance or caregivers aren’t there and office work. Most of them are putting in full working hours and stretched hours at that. But remaining home for over two months; employees are facing salary cuts and a few are on leave without pay. Some have lost their jobs, Situation at this rate is getting grim. A two month active work loss can’t really shake the P and L of an organisation to such an extent but due to no formal labour guideline been available this becomes a great veil for them to ease cost. Many organisations are on this path as manpower cost is the first thing that is trimmed in any crisis. It requires a determined organization to step up and bear the cost for some time and ensure business as usual later. It’s different for an SME or a start up at the launch stage though. Governments and industrial forums need to work collectively on this. People have the fear of job losses across all levels of hierarchy. Organisations need to communicate with their employees being transparent will make things look fair and logical.
How long can we keep the work force indoors? How long can businesses remain shut? It is not that Covid-19 will exit just the way it came, it may remain a part of our lives. People losing their means of livelihood will lead to tremendous stress among them, many getting into depression. Isn’t there a pressing need to address this issue? We are required to plan our future by taking appropriate action now. People need to be aware, constantly vigilant, follow government directives and work as per their organisations’ guidelines. This pandemic or any other issue of this magnitude will require all stakeholders to work together. There have been such times in the past history has enough evidences; it also tells us how people emerged stronger. For that we must employ the intelligent mindset keeping logic, analytics and emotions in check.
Countries, States, Organisations and individuals all need to adapt to the ‘New Normal’. By now everyone has drafted what normal will be for them. The transportation, industries, offices and businesses need to open first so that the workforce is at places where it is needed and be productive. The economy needs to move ahead too otherwise this logical decision will get into people’s emotional planes and create havoc there. A balance is the need of the hour, open all contributors to the economy at the same time tread cautiously.
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Laxmi Todiwan - Founder Indian Women in Hospitality. She is a Professor, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker
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