Covid-19 & Employee Related Challenges for The Corporate.

AuthorSharma, Ekta


Novel Corona virus spread which began in Wuhan in China has been declared a pandemic by World Health organization (WHO) as its outbreak has threatened the whole world. This is an infectious disease and can be transmitted from the infected person to those who come in contact with the carrier of virus. Covid-19, as it is called has taken lakhs of lives across the globe and has affected the social, economic, personal, professional and other spheres of life (Nicola et al., 2020). In various parts of the world the administrators implemented different norms to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Some countries responded to the situation by announcing Lockdown to counter Covid-19. All institutions were closed down except essential services (as defined by the respective governments). Social distancing and quarantine became the prevention measures. The measure of social distancing and the quarantine time kept changing as the research on the novel disease progressed. In order to abide by the norms, all economic activities were staggered. OECD (2020) predicted the weakening of economic growth of the world. On the one side economic slowdown and on the other fear of uncertainty, in terms both of health and finance, would impact the employees negatively (Brooks et al., 2020; MacIntyrea, 2020; Shigemura et al., 2020). The weakening of economy would lead to furloughs and layoffs of employees (World Economic Forum, 2020). The uncertainty around health, job, finance and also the work overload would increase the anxiety and stress among the employees (Li. et al., 2020), which would reduce the employee productivity. Social isolation has added to the agony. The employee and his/her family's physical as well as mental well-being become important. The pandemic has thrown open a challenge to the Human Resource (HR) departments of the organizations; they are required to facilitate the adaptability and coping up with the sudden changes warranted because of the pandemic. HR needs to identify the employee related challenges during and post-pandemic and have to review their strategy to cope up with these times of uncertainty. The objective of the paper is to explore first, the employee related challenges that organizations faced due to the pandemic; second, the strategies followed by organization to mitigate the effects or respond to the identified challenges and third, the perception of HR regarding preparedness of the organization and employees to resume work.

Different researchers have studied Covid-19 and its impacts on different stakeholders (Brooks et al, 2020; MacIntyrea, 2020; Shigemura et al., 2020; Li et al, 2020). Brooks et al (2020) discussed about the distress caused due to the lockdown, social distancing and quarantine. This is affecting the mental well-being of people (Alradhawi et al, 2020; Li et al, 2020; MacIntyrea, 2020). Uncertainty (Gao et al., 2020), threat to safety and security (Xiang et al, 2020), isolation (Brooks et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2020), threat to job and income (Zhou et al., 2020) are some of the factors that cause anxiety and stress. The anxiety increases with the repetitive announcements of the precautions to be taken (Shigemura et al, 2020). Those who are quarantined are distressed due to loneliness and boredom (Xiang et al, 2020).

The workplace related issues need attention both during and post-lockdown times (Carnavale & Hatak, 2020). Employee is affected both at the personal and professional fronts and the impact of one on another is difficult to avoid. So, the employee experiences anxiety and distress in their personal sphere due to the reasons mentioned above. But professionally also he/she is grappled into uncertainties like job continuity and salary disbursements. Due to economic slowdown and the lockdown, many organizations are laying-off the workforce as they either do not have work for them or they cannot afford to pay regular salaries. Besides that, the lockdown being sudden, there has been no plan of technological upgradation, which is essential as the 'Work from Home' (WFH) is the norm of the lockdown period. Lack of planning again added to the problems. The network connectivity issues, the capacity of devices like mobiles and laptops to add the applications facilitating WFH and emaciating line of demarcation between work and family life (Chawla, MacGowan, Gabriel & Podsakoff, 2020) affected the employees adversely.


The data was collected through online survey which included both qualitative and quantitative questions. The five qualitative questions like: "List the employee related challenges faced due to pandemic"; "What steps are taken for the physical as well as mental well being in times of isolation and social distancing" are included in survey. The qualitative responses were validated through interviews. The quantitative questions were based on Likert scale of 1 to 5 where '1' denotes 'low' and '5' denote 'High'. The quantitative questions were related to 'preparedness to adapt' 'preparedness to resume work after lockdown' of both the employee and employer to adapt the new normal. Data was collected from two hundred and thirty Human Resource professionals of corporate in the sectors of IT, textiles, consulting, heavy machinery, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, chemicals and metal, automobiles etc. The average work experience of the respondent was 20.8 years with the lowest being 7 years and the highest 40 years. Qualitative data was analyzed through 'Thematic method' and for quantitative data the independent sample 't' test and means were calculated.

Challenges Faced

The responses to the question on listing the challenges faced by the organization due to the pandemic and thereby the lockdown were classified broadly under four categories: business, operations, infrastructure and employee. Under the 'business' category the subthemes that emerged were: issue of continuity of business and financial crunch which are both related. The continuity of business was difficult to manage due to lockdown. Primarily those which were into non-essential services were not allowed to function during lockdown times. Besides, even if some were allowed on the basis of being essential services, they faced issues related to logistics and lack of labor. The transportation was on halt and therefore both procurement and sale were affected. This increased the cost of production of any good or service but the clients were not willing to bear the cost and on the other side the vendors were not making payments quoting the closure of work as a reason for nonavailability of finance. Hence, the small companies found it difficult to continue operations and also disburse the salaries in time or at times less salary or even no salary. This financial crunch aggravated the situation and employees who were already anxious due...

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