“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.” - Harry S. Truman
In this post, we take stock of the unemployment realities many businesses are facing, which sectors are hot right now, and learn what not to do from the mistakes of local governments’ web portals during this crisis.
Virtual, reality: Businesses shifting online to survive
Small businesses were feeling the burn of the current economic conditions the last month, and now it’s trickled up to much larger entities. Harvard University announced salary and hiring freezes among other cost-cutting measures. Disney World is furloughing a staggering 43,000 workers. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting every business from the Fortune 500 list to your local shops.
But while enterprise-level corporations are seeing massive layoffs, there is a potential bright spot for smaller companies that are able to pivot quickly to offer their services online. You already know about online schools and concerts. But then there’s a slew of virtual cooking classes, mixology courses, and wine tasting classes being led by intrepid people embracing tech. Real estate agents are giving virtual property tours to sell when people can’t actually visit the houses. Even car dealerships are moving hard to online sales.
The Takeaway: If you can pivot to running even a part of your business online, now’s the time to do so. With a vaccine at least a year away and many health experts predicting rolling quarantine weeks in the future, the businesses that can move online first will win.
Big tech companies are hiring like it’s 1999
More like 2009, but Prince was clearly ahead of his time. That year, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, tech giants like Google and Apple were “scooping up talent that had been laid off elsewhere.” These companies have the reserves to weather downturns, and they can hire relatively cheap engineers and programmers during these types of situations. And with technology being even more important for businesses today, they aren’t wrong to invest in growth.
But streaming and computer pixels can only get companies so far. Businesses still need boots on the ground to run warehouses and manage goods. Amazon is also on a hiring spree, seeking to fill another 75,000 jobs as delivery becomes the new normal. In fact, unskilled workers may oddly have a leg up during a time when people are afraid to leave their houses. The gig economy of drivers, delivery people, and other hourly workers will constantly be in demand for more hires for the foreseeable future.
The Takeaway: Tech companies are competing for both highly-skilled and unskilled workers. If you’re hiring either, you can’t rest on your laurels during this time.
Teachable moment: Awful government web portals
From Nevada to California to Pennsylvania, you name it: web portals for unemployment benefits are crashing left and right leading to anger and frustration from the millions of people trying to file. Clearly they weren’t designed to handle this many applicants, but no one applying is giving them that leniency. At the end of the day, a bad website is a bad website and users will be turned off.
These web portal crashes highlight the need for better, more streamlined tech in place to process applicants without straining servers and corrupting data. It made us reevaluate our own internal hiring portal and now might be a good time for your business to do so as well.
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Robert Woo is a freelance content creator for various companies from startup to enterprise-level. When not writing SEO-friendly articles, he writes and performs comedy, plays guitar, and champions the Oxford comma.