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Layoffs during pandemic: Opportunity in disguise for the smart investor, CEO, Business Leader.
08/31/2020

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. We all have clouds above us, but some see their silver linings. We all face difficulties but some of us are grateful that they aren’t worse – Oscar Wilde”

This quote from Oscar Wild made me think about the current  global crisis. Covid-19 has no borders, no religions, no color, no classes, and we are in it together. How we look at our situation is completely up to the individual. So, I started imagining the silver lining and writing my first blog. This also defines my thinking about the platform behind stratitnow

Where we stand today?

The Covid-19 crisis has caused massive uncertainty worldwide as seen in the disruption of global supply chains, performance of financial markets, and job losses. On top of a global public health scare, the novel virus has thrown the world into a human and social crisis. From lock downs to restriction of movement and closure of businesses, the world is staring at a recession.

  • The U.S. & world has witnessed massive job losses across various sectors.
  • It is estimated that the Covid-19 crisis has cost nearly 48 million American jobs as of July 9, 2020, with economic models warning that the figures could go up.
  • Currently, the unemployment rate in the U.S. stands at 11.1%, up from 3.6% in January 2020.

Very few job sectors have been spared by the wrath of the novel virus. The worst-hit sectors include—hotels, airlines, performing arts, gyms, restaurants, bars, medical establishments like Dentists, brick and mortar retail. While some of the layoffs may be temporary, some jobs may not come back.  To add to the complexity, many families around the world are dealing with uncertainties about back to school for their children, trying to keep up with constantly changing criteria for college admissions.

Talented workers have been affected too

The brunt of the unemployment crisis resulting from Covid-19 has not only fallen on unskilled workers but the best talent as well.  As businesses of all sizes seek to optimize their investments amidst financial constraints, employers have been forced to lay off smart talent to survive. This has considerably broadened the existing talent gap.

An opportunity in disguise – The Silver Lining

Now is a time to look at History. While we become short-sighted during crises, the best leaders and organizations use them to their advantage, leap frogging away from their competitors. We all know about Apple and Steve Jobs success, but Steve himself credits his rediscovery to his layoff from Apple. In 1940, Hewlett Packard founders tapped into the recession and exploited the talent let go by US Military labs to become one of the most successful companies. History points us to many such examples. In March, 2020, Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen considered the benefits of this kind of long-term thinking in an analysis of 4,700 companies across the last three recessions and results were startling:

  • 17% of companies studied did not survive the recession.
  • 80% did not regain their pre-recession growth.
  • 9% of the companies flourished after slowdown, outperforming rivals. These were not the big names or the usual suspects.
  • Firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish.

Today we are being tested again. This is the perfect opportunity for businesses to tap into smart talent and set themselves on the path to future success. Time to make BOLD investments in Innovation, R&D, collaboration, next wave capabilities. Focus on skills vs degrees, value vs titles and Impact vs ROI. Quiz people, test them for they may have been the backbone of enterprises who are short sighted. Whether you’re a startup or an already established organization, leverage the incredible talent pool to strengthen your team. Along with coming up with better ideas, talented workers possess impeccable problem-solving abilities.

I leave you with a personal story: During a play date for our 3 year old, I was speaking to the friend & dad who is a Pilot with a leading airline and is uncertain about the future. He has not flown in over 6 months but has the most positive and encouraging view to life. He took this time and invested in family, kids while also following his passion for sports, training and coaching. He has found new purpose and keeps reinventing himself. His quote – “Its going to be Ok as we are more resilient than we know and we are blessed with what we still have”. That positive human spirit drives us to excellence. Are you one of the visionary leaders and setting the right goals or being short sighted with focus on getting the jump in next quarter earnings results.

About the Author: Sohil Goorha is the CEO & Founder of stratitnow, a platform for expert sharing and personal consulting. Learn more here:

Reference: Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen “roaring out of recession”; Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, executive fellow at Harvard Business School article” Now Is an Unprecedented Opportunity to Hire Great Talent

10 Comments

  1. James Kadela

    Great insights. A lot of Top Talent is sitting on the sidelines and just waiting for organizations to give them the opportunity to excel. Don’t wait or your competitors will grab the best-of-the-best and you will be playing catch-up. If you are currently on the sidelines, stay positive as there are great opportunities waiting for you to seize them.

    Reply
    • Sohil Goorha

      Thanks Jim for your comment. Disruptors will do that soon

      Reply
    • Abhi Nath

      Awesome writing Sohil. You are right. There are lots of opportunities out there. Big question is are you ready to create one for your self and also have the vision to invest in people and in turn extract value for your cause.

      Reply
      • Sohil Goorha

        Thanks Abhi. That is why the quote from Oscar Wilde resonates in current situation.

        Reply
  2. Reid Chesterfield

    Thanks for the article – Increases in R&D and talent in a downturn are SCARY, but that is the best time to make the big move, and so must have the right strategy to pull it off.

    Reply
  3. Raeshma E.J.

    The question that comes to mind is – When we all emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, do you see yourself become stronger, weaker or remain the same?
    Your article reflects the value of being resilient and resourceful ESPECIALLY during times of change and transition. It’s important to challenge ourselves both personally and professionally. We become used to doing things one way and they become automated habits in our brain. We are wired to find the path of least resistance. The only way to break out of it is to embrace change.
    Kudos to going for it in 2020!

    Reply
    • Sohil Goorha

      Thanks Raeshma for your view. This pandemic made us adopt and adjust to so many new ways of life and that is the human resilience. Like you said, what we choose to do from now onward defines us.

      Reply
  4. Fausto Mercado

    Great insight on how the current environment is a challenge for everyone on both a personal and professional level. The important thing is to make sure we make the most of it and turn it into an opportunity. This is the time to grow and strengthen your business as well as yourself as an individual. To do that you need to have courage and make sure you have the right people supporting you.

    Reply
    • Sohil Goorha

      Thanks Fausto for your thoughts. That was the intent behind this platform at stratitnow. We are the startup platform for self employed entrepreneurs and also working professionals who want to share their experiences while also building a digital social presence for retirement. Looking forward to our collaboration.

      Reply

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