The two waves of the coronavirus pandemic have disrupted lives and livelihoods, with individuals and businesses alike suffering. Firms redirected them to face the new reality and careers for professionals deviated from a planned and fixed path. An online survey and conversations with business leaders and employees across the country during the two waves of the pandemic revealed the extent of change. Our survey, with 1,442 responses from all age groups, income levels, and geographical regions, shows that one in three employees lost their job during the pandemic. Two out of three who lost their jobs have not yet found alternative work. The average time required to find a new job was 3 to 6 months. Only about 27% of all employees have had any increment in the past 18 months.
This week's cover story is about how COVID has affected career and what you can do to overcome the obstacles created by the work-from-home environment. We also tell you how to deal with the stress of losing your job and the steps that can help you land a new one. There are also tips on how to retrain to stay relevant in the post-pandemic job market.
More than 70% of those surveyed were between the ages of 25 and 45, indicating that they have been in managerial or future managerial positions and future leaders position. The vast majority have a negative view of the future job market.
We've also looked at how employers are responding to the business and human crisis in different ways. Most business leaders have realized that the future appears more uncertain than ever and that rapid adoption of technology and evolving business models are here to stay. They also believe that managers and individuals will constantly need to learn new ways to deal with ongoing business disruptions.
How do you save your job and income?
A realistic assessment of your business can indicate whether your employer is likely to hire, fire, or skip increment this year.
You worry. I have seen colleagues and friends lose their jobs or their only source of income during the pandemic. One in three participants lost their job due to the coronavirus. The first step is to understand your company's business and think like an owner. Where does revenue come from, and what are the products, customers, and geographies? What are the most important expenses: salaries, production, marketing, etc.? What has changed during the pandemic? Is the business owner losing money, recovering or growing? What works better at work and what doesn't? If you're in the customer service department, you already know what customers are buying, not buy or complain about. Finally, what have owners and managers said and done in the past during tough times? The more realistic your assessment, the better you can anticipate whether your company is likely to hire, fire, or skip increment this year.
Mission critical plan
Employers and managers spend a lot of time and effort making decisions because layoffs demoralize everyone and make retention and hiring more difficult when the business recovers. To protect your business, you must plan and act early. Once you understand the business of the employer, ask yourself if your role is important to the business, future plans, or the survival of the company. Second, is your company overstaffed or understaffed in your role? The company has to manage its accounts and money even if there is no business. Selling and marketing is required to restore or increase your income. Requires production or provision of services. If you are a critical employee and part of an understaffed team, such as the only accountant, or the only team that maintains machinery or takes on a number of responsibilities, you are safe. If not, plan for it to become a critical task for your business as soon as possible. Either as an invaluable Generalist or as an irreplaceable expert. How can you increase your responsibilities or transition to an important project or understaffed team to add maximum value without adding cost?
Go on commission basis
The company has to budget to pay the notice period when the employee is laid off. However, for contractors and consultants, the company can delay its decision. If your employer is in the process of cutting costs, talk to your manager and offer them a contract or commission. What you lose in the notice period, you gain in terms of income security by delaying completion.
Salary reduction or no salary
If you are called to have a discussion about layoffs, you can offer to work at a significant pay cut. This is worth it when business continuity is important to you or even when partial income is critical. If the employer is open to your suggestion, you keep your job and get a partial income while looking for a new job or waiting for the employer's business to recover and your salary to be reclaimed. If you were a former employee, the employer will likely consider your offer. Alternatively, you can also offer to work for free or as an intern, only if you can afford it. Apply for a project that the employer badly needs to undertake but does not have the resources. Or for a role where you can learn a new skill while contributing. Here you are trading your time for immense goodwill, additional business skills, and becoming the first person asked whenever a salaried vacancy arises in the company.
How has the pandemic affected employment?
One in three people lost their job in the past year.
Getting back on your feet
Keep working to banish anxiety as you get closer to your goal of employment.
When you lose your job, address your anxiety first before it leads to depression or a loss of confidence. Acknowledge that you are not at fault in an event outside your control such as the pandemic and its impact on your previous employer. Second, remember often that a layoff or interruption does not mean that your career has collapsed or that you have no market value. With these two thoughts, get back to work, both physically and mentally. Exercising is your physical labor. At the very least, take a walk whenever you feel anxious. The physical sensations at the time of exercise and the feeling of relief afterward reduce your anxiety. Now, start your job search and plan the steps for this week and the following week.
The quickest way to get a job immediately after you lose it is to ask for help from your previous employer. Most employers in India, especially startups, are happy to help reduce the suffering of people who have had to lay off their jobs due to work challenges. Your employer, manager, and HR department can help you by connecting to your personal network of other HR founders, directors, and managers who may be hiring for similar vacancies. A strong recommendation from the founder regarding your work ethics and performance will allow you to easily get your first 2-3 interviews, even if there are no immediate job opportunities. No one wants to miss an opportunity to meet the best talent recommended from a trusted source.
Spread the word
Let the world know that you are looking forward to working and contributing. Update your resume on job boards and improve your LinkedIn profile by activating the Open for Business feature. Next, reach out to your 1st and 2nd degree contacts and ask them to connect you with decision makers in your network who might be open to meeting with you. The more people you meet, the more likely casual and fleeting conversations will lead to open up. Likewise, the more word spreads, the more luck you will have on your job search journey.
Beyond the usual
Responding to a job advertisement is the easiest task. There are a few hundred more in this tough job market who may have responded to the same job ad. Therefore, your chances of converting the application are slim. Go beyond the obvious and go further. Contact a founder or decision maker directly on LinkedIn or via email and request that you be considered for a job. Learn how to sell yourself while demonstrating that initiative and extra effort over the competition. Can you find a way to meet the decision maker as part of a physical event, be it professional or social?
Join a friend
Does a friend or family member have a job? Great, you don't have to be idle while waiting for a short list or a call for an interview. Offer to help with your friend's business. If you agree, choose tasks or roles that will save cost or bandwidth. Treat it as a formal job and follow set times and processes for other employees. You may even get paid for your services. But the biggest benefits are that your career retains its structure, feels and remains useful, and during your job search, you gain work experience rather than a gap in your resume.
Wealth can be defined as the number of days you can survive before your money runs out. When you are not earning, you can increase your "wealth" by cutting back on so that your money lasts longer. Start by sticking to a budget if you don't have one. What are the inevitable expenses, which can be reduced or deferred, and which are discretionary and which can be stopped? Can you change your EMIs, lower your home rent, put off your car purchase, and pause eating out?
Keep growing in your career
Taking a step forward and taking on more responsibilities improves your chances of advancement and career advancement.
In your assessment, measure your growth in terms of three criteria: income, responsibility, and skills. Try to advance at least two of these three in the evaluation discussion. If an immediate increase is not possible, you can request a deferred increase in the form of a retention bonus, a mid-year reassessment, a raise linked to milestones, and even a higher variable component that can increase your earnings If you are in sales or in a position with objective evaluations, always look for More responsibilities as it prepares you for early promotion and accelerates the growth of skills and abilities.
Agreements and success
There is a sharp focus on outcomes in the Work From Home (WFH) assessment talks. Therefore, for future evaluations, you should make early agreements with your manager about the direction of the work and determine the results. Before the pandemic, your position within the team and with your manager included the impact of your presence and interaction with them. In remote work, many of your contributions are not visible to others, including hours spent or personal interactions and contributions with other team members. The total time you spend in front of your manager and team decreases and your ability to solve problems up front. Your employers are also still figuring out how to manage and lead in an environment where normal tools and physical management processes have changed. To stay on the path to growth, discuss progress with your manager each month and make agreements about how success will be defined and measured.
Access to communications
The biggest barrier to growth in today's work environment is the low quality of communication. While technology helps you stay at your fingertips, information available through your manager's body language, casual interactions in the office, your current focus, communication with other teams, and non-work conversations are lost, helping you to make sense of each other better. Without this input, you will be more concerned about deadlines and delivery, and your performance will be affected. Correct this by creating new discussion channels. Can you request a weekly space to discuss growth or non-work related issues? Or can you share a coffee break online?
Your relationships with your teammates are critical to your competence and focus, unless you are an independent contributor. In a hybrid or WFH environment, their relationships suffered. A newly hired colleague introduces himself via email and also announces an outing. Until you switch stories, work together to meet a tight deadline, listen to a colleague's burden, and help out, you won't get the work environment you need to be successful. Take the conclusion. Use non-work related topics to start or end meetings and your one-on-one discussions. During a team project, choose to keep video and audio with a colleague. Take some time to catch up with the other person.
While your current job is all about results and measurements, your personal growth plan should be based on skills and experience. List the responsibilities you are currently dealing with and the projects you are working on. What skills are used in each one? Where do you learn a new skill, such as account management? Where do you master a current skill, eg leading a cross-functional team? What skill or experience do you lack? Look for adding a new project or restructuring your existing business to reach the desired goal. Review every quarter and review your growth plan for the rest of the year.
How have employers reacted to covid?
More than 40% of employees have experienced pay cuts, and 33% have not received increments.
What have employers done differently?
Many were forced by circumstances to take harsh measures, but some employers supported workers during this difficult time.
Covid also surprised employers. Many companies with limited working capital have had to reluctantly lay off employees or resort to large wage cuts. Our survey showed that three out of five employers have had to fire some people.
Jobs and income
As the impact of Covid progressed, some commercial streams became unworkable while others were established. Team leaders and managers went the extra mile to help laid-off people find work through their networks. Startups have been particularly proactive. Shishir Modi, co-founder of Niki.ai, an e-commerce startup, says: “The founders of the startups in our network recommended their employees when closing positions and they were quickly hired based on the recommendations of other founders where I opened their posts.” However, at the institutional level, only 1% of those who answered our survey said their employers helped them find a new job.
Bet on the post-pandemic market
Experienced leaders who have seen and learned from past crises have been more moderate in their response to the pandemic. When they had the resources to survive the lockdown, they focused on post-pandemic scenarios. “We chose to invest in marketing and branding for the long term rather than letting people go. We were willing to take losses if the pandemic spread, but we were confident that pent-up demand would emerge,” says Kamal Karanth, co-founder of XPheno, a specialist recruitment firm focused on technology and engineering. ". Xpheno's gamble paid off, posting its best quarter in 2021. In such cases, clear communication and personal job security helped teams achieve the common goal of rebuilding the business.
Health and emergency assistance
Our survey indicates that 44% of respondents have received new or increased health insurance, mental health counseling, or financial support from their employer. Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice president of TeamLease, a leading recruitment firm. “In the meantime, many employers have set up covid response teams, especially during the second wave. Vinod Subramanian, CEO of Flexability, RPO Division at ABC Consultants, says: “The Covid response team at our company did everything they could to help other employees and extended families.” All over the country access to treatment under emergency conditions. “Both the financial initiatives and existing resources have been a boon for low-income employees.
How do workers feel about their employers
The workers are very satisfied with the answer, but are not sure about the future.
Training and skilling
One aspect that is often overlooked is the professional confidence of employees. In the new WFH environment, many employee tools and skills are becoming redundant or less important. As a result, employees felt less confident in their skills and contributions, which led to more anxiety about job security. Some employers realize this and help employees adapt to changes in the environment. "We've selected over 100 training programs to ensure people have less anxiety about the importance of their skills," says Rupa Badrinath, South Asia talent manager for Wunderman Thomson, a global marketing communications company.
Supporting the managers
Managers and leaders have not been able to use standard tools and techniques for remote workforce management. Therefore, all employer-led initiatives perform better when managers and leaders receive support, says Prabhkiran Singh, co-founder of Bewakoof. com: "With new recruits and leadership changes, we've made sure leaders from across the country get to know each other in both formal and informal settings." Another leader has a daily slot in his calendar at breakfast time, where employees reserve days and weeks in advance for an online discussion of work, ideas, questions and answers. Employees gained direct access to the leader, while the CEO received information and communicated with people across the company. Another company implemented a weekly schedule where any employee could attend while a manager volunteered to speak for 20 minutes about the challenges they faced in their role and then receive suggestions from others. Karanth says that leaders are more likely to be successful if they establish psychological safety and create alternative communication processes that point to normalcy.
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