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Continued from Previous……
People are part of organization and both are interdependent on one another for existence. People related economic challenges are loss of current income, loss of future income, loss of current, loss of future benefits, longevity of job, Health and Safety.
Loss of income – those who were asked to stay at home unpaid or those who were laid off lost income immediately. They may be taken back on the same job later, with the same pay or they may be asked to come back at reduced pay, or they may not be asked to come back. The opportunities in the market are closed right now and new moves cannot be made. The loss of income therefore has no clear future course. Loss of income is also experienced by small businesses such as small vendors/suppliers. The outlets are closed due to lockdown and the income has stopped. The rents, utilities’ bills are still mounting up, eating up whatever savings there were. The future is uncertain because it will be a new beginning whenever it may happen. The larger companies are holding up vendor payments on account of low turnover. The large number of small-business people associated with any larger business are suffering doubly; their new business has stopped, and their outstanding payments are not coming through.
Loss of Benefits – the employees generally plan their lives on both; a regular income such as monthly salary, and occasional but predictable income like bonuses, LFA etc. There are other benefits like medical cover, provident fund, gratuity etc. As far as I know, the current medical insurance plans are not covering COVID. Bonuses will not be given because profitability has been hit. Other benefits such as interest-free loans, replacement of company vehicles etc. shall also be put on hold. The benefits which are considered normal in normal times should be considered as ‘a matter of the past’. Loss of benefits may not be limited to current times; it will be extended long into future. The annual increments, promotion opportunities, addition of perks may be put on hold indefinitely.
Shrinking of Job Market – Like other countries of the world, Pakistan economy will also shrink by a significant percentage. The current talk is about negative GDP growth for couple of next years also. The economic growth is linked with business expansion, creation of new jobs and other economic opportunities. It is logical to understand that the overall job market will likely shrink rather than expanding. Many small businesses will close down altogether, large businesses will try to economize on HR costs and will work with minimum staff in the guise of ‘right sizing’. The job market therefore will shrink both in numbers and the size of compensation packages. Fresh, aspiring entrants shall not see welcoming behavior generally.
Health and Safety – An ordinary face mask is selling for 15 rupees, not to talk about KN95 etc. A family of six will spend 90 rupees every day. Ideally, they should change this mask everyday which will come to 2700 rupees per month. Most lower income families shall not be able to afford proper face masks; they will either go for cheap, home-made masks or not wear a mask unless absolutely necessary. In either case, the health and safety of these people and those around them will be compromised. In case of illness, the treatment may not be in the reach of a large number of people. They may self-medicate, follow quackery advices, home remedies and whatever is in their reach. This is another avenue for compromised health and safety.
COVID19 has made all of us suffer in many ways; the individuals, the corporations, and the government. A problem of this scale requires open interactions, discussions and joint actions at multiple levels. This is not happening.
The government is busy doling out statistics and some money. People are not statistics, they are humans. In a WHO conference on ‘Population Control’, an African mother famously called out “Goddammit. We are not population, we are mothers.” The performance of government besides, the understanding, compassion, and coordination are less than desired. Urgent action is required at the highest level.
The businesses are busy in trying to survive and not talking to their people. For them, people are a liability right now which has to carried, willingly or not. They are not discussing with staff, much less asking them for suggestions to sail through this crisis as best as possible. Organization is made up of people; not a separate entity. The ‘non-living’ enterprise may be the property of owners/shareholders, but the organization is a living animal. The organizations do not run on buildings and machines; they run on people. The organizations should open communication and take people into confidence and build confidence for one another.
The people are scared and fearful and apprehensive about present and future. Those staying at home are mostly wasting time on social media which is under immense pressure currently. This is a way of escaping from the harsh realities. People should get up and get going; refresh old knowledge and skills, acquire new knowledge and skills, keep physically and mentally healthy so that they can face the challenges better.
Present crisis is huge in magnitude and dimensions; however, the people are always bigger than any crisis. Our efforts and prayers must go hand in hand to come out successfully.