COVID-19 is not just a public health emergency—it is causing economic turmoil, travel bans, and forcing full government-mandated lockdowns. These obstacles make running global businesses challenging or nearly impossible, as millions of companies around the world shut down in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. However, for some companies, the outbreak has not stopped business entirely, and many of these firms need ways to keep their global hiring initiatives moving.
Ben Wright, CEO and Founder of Velocity Global, held a webinar in partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to support HR teams that are maintaining their hiring initiatives during COVID-19. Wright discussed how using agile hiring methods is critical to keep business moving during these times of uncertainty.
COVID-19 Has Already Impacted Employment
The webinar began with speakers from the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), which represents and advocates for a global network of more than 150 business and employer organizations. The speakers from IOE include Matthias Thorns, Deputy Secretary General, and Luis Rodrigo Morales, Senior Advisor.
Thorns revealed some grim statistics: as of mid-March 2020, there were over 25 million jobs at risk globally due to the COVID-19 crisis. As the pandemic spreads and worsens in places like Europe and the United States, that number is likely to increase drastically.
Thorns then presented the main concerns of their member organizations as governments force businesses to shut down. He explained how the firm offers support through webinars, digital labs, and COVID-19 resources online, as well as advocates for government assistance that businesses desperately need at this time. The top concerns of IOE and its members include:
- Lack of clarity from governments on shutdown mandates
- Exporters struggling to get their shipments on time
- Border closures that inhibit company travel to meet with clients or prospects, if needed
- Ways to protect the most impacted populations, such as the self-employed, the tourism industry, and retail stores
Thorns and Rodrigo explained that governments around the world implemented measures to help people suffering from economic hardships during this time. Some of these measures include: deferring tax and social security contributions; providing income replacement to sick workers; deferring loan, mortgage, or rent payments; and giving financial support to employers who provide workers with paid leave.
Finally, Thorns and Rodrigo discussed that since we are unsure how long this outbreak will last, the IOE is available to provide valuable information and support to companies as they navigate this difficult time.
How Velocity Global Navigates COVID-19 Uncertainty
The focus of the webinar then turned to Ben Wright, CEO and Founder of Velocity Global. Wright spoke on how he and other leaders in the company responded to the COVID-19 crisis, and how Velocity Global plans to give back to its global employees and their communities during this pandemic.
Wright discussed how Velocity Global’s nearly 200 employees that span five continents are currently on mandatory work-from-home and banned from non-essential travel. The company is helping to “flatten the curve” and keep employees and their communities safe. Wright mentioned Velocity Global will continue to work from home and keep the travel restrictions in place until its leaders are confident that they aren’t part of a potential “second wave.”
Wright also explained that service is one of Velocity Global’s fundamental values. In the spirit of this value, the company started global and regional Slack channels to brainstorm ways to give back to communities and people in need. Velocity Global encourages giving back throughout the remainder of the year by donating one percent of its 2020 global profits to non-profit organizations around the world.
COVID-19 Is Changing How We Do Business
Next, Wright shifted topics to discuss how the COVID-19 outbreak already changed the way the world does business. As governments shut countries down and ban travel, millions of companies around the globe face serious financial consequences.
Countries around the world and states here in the U.S. forced restaurants, bars, and other “non-essential” businesses to close or limit their services. Wright explained that, because of these necessary restrictions, many local small businesses had to close, and travel-related companies and economies that rely on tourism saw their revenue drop to zero overnight.
Governments also put travel bans into place that make some jobs difficult. Using Velocity Global as an example, Wright said that the company has employees in Dubai who often travel around the Middle East and Africa. For some companies, traveling for work is now almost impossible, as well as dangerous for employees; therefore, revenue will suffer.
COVID-19 Impacts on Global Hiring
Despite recent challenges, global business in certain areas and industries continues to grow. Wright noted that Velocity Global identified promising trends that showcase companies finding new ways to keep business moving and support local economies.
Initially, Velocity Global focused on the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region when researching future hiring trends and how COVID-19 impacts them. But the company recently turned its attention to the rest of the world, as the virus starts to spread. Some incoming business trends Wright noticed in the first quarter of 2020 include:
- No substantial change to month-by-month lead flow and created opportunities for APAC countries in Q1. This also applies to the rest of the world over the last two weeks.
- APAC deals closed slowed by 25% in January and February. However, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and Europe outperformed in terms of lead flow.
- Third-country mobile employees ground to a complete halt in the first quarter of 2020. For example, a company would not likely move a UK citizen to Singapore. However, companies are still hiring foreign nationals in countries if they already live and work in those countries.
- Hiring in the APAC region recently bounced back because China and South Korea are recovering from the outbreak, and companies are eager to hire again.
While hiring in the rest of the world is down 20% at the moment, Wright is hopeful that these markets will follow APAC’s lead and bounce back in a similar way.
Flexibility Is Key in Uncertain Times
While the spread of COVID-19 creates economic turmoil and forces many countries into lockdown, some businesses must keep moving. To end the webinar, Wright commented on how agile hiring methods like Velocity Global’s International Professional Employer Organization (PEO) solution allow companies to quickly and easily hire in new markets.
Wright also emphasized that Velocity Global is in no way making light of the Coronavirus scare, nor are they minimizing the impact this pandemic has on economies and lives in these countries. Whatever form unforeseen disruptions take, smart but agile hiring decisions are key.
Learn more about Velocity Global’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak here. If you could not attend the webinar and want additional information about global hiring trends during this public health crisis, click here to watch the full webinar.