How has COVID affected our labor market and workplaces
Who knew that a small virus could affect economies across the globe? Amongst many different types of industries, the repercussions of Coronavirus have majorly affected the hospitality and transportation sector including commercial and leisure.
To name a few, the economy and labor market pre-COVID had implications including a shortage of skilled labor due to high competition for certain skilled jobs, especially those that require specialized certificates. However, tables have completely turned, whereby, there has been an increase in the supply of labor and a decrease in the demand. Why is that?
Business owners have incurred devastating losses since the beginning of the spread of the virus, regardless of the size of the operations. Small businesses, start-ups, and privately-owned companies were forced to shut their operations and lay their employees off due to the lack of demand for their products and/or services. Large MNCs had their operations continue in low capacity and to save their overhead costs some operations were moved to working from home.
Besides losing the talent pool due to the expenses, participants of the labor market were not only laid off but were also physically and mentally affected by the virus. Due to the pandemic, there were countries that experienced mass deaths which further created unemployment.
Implication of lockdown
White-collar employees were seen to be more productive when the businesses moved their operations to work from home. During the pandemic, people were seen bonding with their family while socially distancing and taking precautions to keep their family from getting exposed to the virus. However, by the year-end, a lot of people were seen drained and mentally restrained by staying in and getting caught in the mundane routine of working from home.
Similarly, for the blue-collar workers, this year has been a lot more stressful especially for the ones who produce or manufacture staple goods as major economic contributors. For instance, the food retailers and manufacturers were seen to be working overtime, since nearly half of the population were working from home or quarantining after getting laid off, their household demands seemed to be going high. To keep up with the supply, companies not only increased the hours of operations but also increased the hourly pay.
The blue-collar labor market did benefit from the situation the economy was in, but only monetarily. There was a high percentage of workers who suffered from depression, getting drained from working extra hours, and a considerable number were affected by the virus.
Coming to terms with the existence of the coronavirus
Most businesses are now operating from offices and workplaces. Working from home and the fear of stepping out during a pandemic did create uncertainty and a mental dilemma for the employees whether they should come into work or stay home
Some workplaces offer orientations, welcoming their employees back to work and helping them deal with the new implementations that could help their teams to operate safely. The orientation includes working with masks, maintaining a social distance of at least 2-2.5 meters, and further guidelines such as lunchroom or lounges to be kept less crowded, sanitizing the workplaces before starting work and after finishing work, and so on, sanitizing hands after lunch and whenever they touch anything foreign, etc.
There are employment agencies that are helping the economy to run efficiently by providing manpower to the businesses since a lot of businesses suffered losses during the pandemic after which they had to either permanently lay workers off or the labor voluntarily resigned due to COVID. Such agencies are also taking initiatives to help workers and laborers get accustomed to wearing masks while working for the shifts and keeping the sanitary guidelines in mind wherever possible.
With the latest progress with vaccinations being available for the prevention of this disease and the on-going debate whether it would be effective to get vaccinated, it will be interesting to see how the economy will now develop.