Employment adjusting to the pandemic


The last 18 months has changed the world, obviously. But maybe more significan­tly, it has changed all of us well beyond our personal and public health concerns.

American psychologi­st Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A theory of Human Motivation” in the journal Psychologi­cal Review created his triangle “Hierarchy of Needs” concept. At the top are the Growth Needs, including a stable self esteem, “aesthetica­lly pleasing experience,” and the needs that refer to the realizatio­n of one’s full potential and spiritual needs.

However, at the bottom, the foundation is the Physiologi­cal Needs, the requiremen­ts for human survival: food, drink, shelter, clothing, and warmth. That takes money to obtain, and money has been a problem for so many people.

The first two job-related results from the pandemic were losing a job or working from home. The old story about one candle gives off little light but a thousand candles can light a building applies to the work-from-home scenario effects.

We have seen a sea change globally from work-from-home (WFH) that will have far reaching economic and social consequenc­es. On one hand, people miss the interactio­n with their coworkers. On the other hand, in the majority of cases, employee productivi­ty has actually improved. Of course, it depends on the industry and specific job.

A study of 16,000 workers over nine months found that working from home increased productivi­ty of a travel agency call center by 13 percent. Further, workers also reported improved work satisfacti­on, and attrition rates were cut by 50 percent. Another study of over 1,000 employees of businesses from many different industries and company sizes where WFH was feasible showed that 70 percent of respondent­s had a positive experience with WFH and that 86 percent of employees would like to continue working remotely at least once a week.

In the survey, a large 79 percent of respondent­s named the lack of commute as one of the best things about WFH. Economists are already looking at the broad effects—less cars being purchased, less road traffic, and even less pollution—from WFH.

But many people lost their employment. In 2020 we met Mary Mae Dacanay, a 23-year-old factory worker from Laguna who lost her job when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. She discovered her talent for leaf carving. Within a few months, she sold hundreds of her art pieces, each for about P400, enabling her to pay the bills.

It is interestin­g how, left without negative interferen­ce primarily from government, people and economies can adjust to adversity.

Globally, internatio­nal sale of exported human hair is big business with a 20-percent increase in 2020 from 2019. Natural human hair is a valued commodity, processed by businesses into hair extensions and wigs. The biggest three exporters of human hair are India, Hong Kong, and Myanmar.

Shortages of hair in 2020 led to higher prices. The Indian Department of Commerce reported the value of human hair exported from India rose by 45 percent in 2020 and the volume exported rose by 39 percent. “The biggest market for human hair products is the United States, where the products are popular among African-americans and fashionist­as,” says the Indian fashion web site “The Voice of Fashion.” The value of human hair and related products exported from India amounted to approximat­ely $255 million in 2020, according to the Indian Department of Commerce.

Humans. We adapt. We survive. We try to thrive.

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