How has COVID-19 shaped our job market landscape?
The world of work is changing; and the transition is happening with such speed and uncertainty that most businesses, and their employees, can barely keep up. To help employers, employees, and potential candidates map out the future of the job market landscape, we interviewed Mr. Patt Soyao of Icon Executive Asia.
Below, we’ve harnessed insights from his extensive experience with recruitment to help us navigate the aftermath of the recruitment industry once lockdown measures are lifted.
Q: In what way has COVID-19 changed the Philippines’ job market landscape?
Before this crisis, candidates take their time in choosing. Negotiations frequently happen because they have options. However, we’ve transitioned to an employer’s market now and this means that employers dictate the offer since company budgets are constrained.
It’s not like employers don’t want to pay properly but companies will follow their budget because they’re trying to survive this crisis. We have to recalibrate our understanding of fairness based on the current employment market. What’s fair before may not be fair now.
Q: What are the implications of these current disruptions? Will there be a shift in how work will be done moving forward?
There’s more leniency in monitoring the employees because they are working from home. While it’s efficiency compared to traditional means is still debatable, companies have to accept that this alternative will be part of their future work conditions.
Now, will there be a shift in how work will be done moving forward? The answer is yes. There’s going to be a lot of online migration in terms of productivity and efficiency. One example is the discussion about certain meetings that could have been emails instead and I’m sure that people will be more in tune with this message because they can distinguish content and the consequent platforms that’re appropriate.
Expect that the migration to other online productivity tools will be integrated to all organizations. In terms of compensation, packages are likely to change. Recruitment teams need to prepare as employees will ask how companies are handling or have handled the crisis. In my opinion, employer branding is going to be a big factor in the future.
Q: Who do you think will be vulnerable or affected with this shift?
To a certain degree, everyone will be affected. Young people are more affected by the depleting labor demand and I believe that new graduates will be vulnerable because companies are looking for talents who can hit the ground running.
Unprotected workers including freelancers and contractual workers are also likely to be hit. NEDA released a report last March 19 that estimates a loss of gross value added of PHP 298B to PHP 1.1T during a one-month lockdown on Luzon. This is expected to reduce employment by 61,000 to 1 million.
Executive positions are also feeling the impact since businesses find it cheaper to utilize someone from middle management who possesses a strategic mindset, although not as advanced or as experienced as executives, but can also execute plans. I’ve seen companies mandate a 50% pay cut or simply let go of their executives because promoting middle management is cheaper.
Q: Do you think jobs will decrease? If so, what will be in demand and what will be tagged as non-essentials?
Sources say that job losses are estimated from 116,000 to 1.8M as our national economy might lose 2.1% to 6.6% of its nominal GDP. While certain job requirements are frozen, there are also openings that tend to replace them.
The demand for supply chain and warehousing operation talents increased and with the advent of e-commerce, most stores would likely hire digital and e-commerce talents to upgrade and migrate their offline stores to the online world.
High touch point jobs, regardless of industry, should expect a decline in demand. These are the people who face clients, the ones involved in the events and hospitality industry, so those who have a high level of contact with customers.
Q: As an experienced headhunter, you have insight in the headspace of both employers and candidates. What do you think is in their minds right now and how should they move forward?
Right now, what’s in the employer’s mindset is value and normally, that value is attached to results. Is your value optimizing current operations? Can you streamline operations which will eventually lead to sales or increase our margin?
For an employee, I’m sure that their mindset revolves around fear—fear for your job and fear of the unknown. There’s anxiety and loss of identity and I think that’s not being discussed enough right now. Losing the profession you take pride in or attribute your personality to can certainly breed unhealthy emotions.
Moving forward, they can align from the get-go. It’s a good thing for employees to understand their value. Perhaps you can optimize certain levels of processes, reduce what normally takes three steps to one? From the company’s end, you must protect your workers. Put their safety
and security as your priority and adapt flexible work shifts and arrangements, strengthen job security measures, or address how workers are mentally affected because there are no boundaries in work and personal spaces.
Q: To give advice for the job hunters, what skills are important to develop in order to succeed?
Curiosity is number one. We need to be curious and interested enough to know how to survive. You also need to know how to research. If you’re going to enter this crisis with only the knowledge and skill set you have then don’t expect much change. Enrich whatever you have because this is new territory.
The ability to execute or the ability to make something exist is also crucial. Curiosity and research is half the battle, but if you add the ability to see this plan come to life, then you’ve won.
Q: Are there specific job platforms or services that clients and candidates need to register with to ensure quality service and results?
Linking back to what I’ve mentioned earlier, businesses are foregoing executives because of the cost. They’re looking at the pool of internal talents, preferably from middle management, and see who they can promote. But, these talents are still raw.
For the business to augment that, they need consultants. As a matter of fact, Icon Executive Asia has a roster of at least 200 consultants in our pipeline and this is what we’ve been using to aid our clients who are currently in this situation. We launched ICONsult—our consultancy search service—with the goal to help businesses by providing a specialist to help validate and create plans, to be an objective sounding board, and to become a capable mentor for their people.
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