It is not a new phenomenon in the labour market that due to globalisation, organisations are becoming more and more international; and now we are not talking about the obvious fact that international companies are present in a growing number of countries, and as a result, several generations work for them. The gist is that nowadays, local companies and startups – but not only them – can attract employees from other countries and continents. How each country handled the COVID Crisis will have a significant impact on this process.
At the beginning of the pandemic, health professionals indicated that the older generations were most at risk to the virus. Of course, they also shared that it does not mean that younger people cannot die from the consequences of COVID-19. However, the virus is still the nightmare of the “elderly and people with chronic diseases”. Younger generations, like the Ambitionists (born between 1985 and 1996) or the Followers (born between 1997 and 2008), did not feel involved: they were cautious mainly to protect their grandparents, just like the Diplomats (born between 1973 and 1984) were in the case of their parents. As governments extended lockdowns, patience kept decreasing. Although it might be considered rude to talk about this topic, after concluding a large number of private discussions and listening in honest forums, the sense of anger was more and more palpable: why do several generations have to suffer because of the problems of a given age group? During recruitment and head-hunting processes, it became increasingly obvious for professionals who could read between the lines that younger generations blame economic decision-makers, and the generations are about to turn against one another. For example, I am sure that everybody remembers the infamous countries that held New Year’s Eve parties. In addition, the closure of restaurants and bars was a great shock for young people, and we have not even mentioned the closure of gyms. We do not know the scale of these “problems” when considering the entire society, and it is also sure that dissatisfaction is far less present among people abstaining from the global labour market. Nevertheless, for international professionals, managers, and employees— those who are the focus from the HR perspective—these measures have greatly influenced where they imagine their lives. Now, we are not talking about Mexico or Brazil, which are known for their New Year’s Eve parties, as future dream locations. However, Spain is a very good example where younger people could live a quite “normal life”, while the virus did not get out of control more than anywhere else. What is more, if we do not consider the virus’s first brutal attack, the country delivered an especially good performance. As a result, rental apartments and hotels are full of people escaping strict lockdowns in countries like Germany and France, and the location has become popular among young managers as a country where they can imagine their futures. It is not our task to assess whether these young people are right or not. However, for HR, it is definitely a chance – or challenge – to face the consequences caused by our countries and prepare ourselves for the effects.
Beyond employer branding?
Until now, an employer’s brand value was greatly influenced by the given country’s or state’s brand value. It has always been so, but since 2021, COVID has opened a new chapter in this field as well, just like it has in several others. When assessing our company’s brand value as HR professionals, we start the building process from the ruins – and now we mean the ruins of the whole world, not necessarily the ruins of a given company – whether we like it, whether it is humane or not. We need to calculate with this new perspective. If we do not, we need to accept the individual, not necessarily realistic judgements of employees and professionals who are important to us, and we will be tested based on their assessments. We must be aware that we also make judgements in this field because it involves the future and safety of ourselves and our families. What is clear: where we are located during the next lockdown is critically important to our quality of life. One of the main characteristics of managers actively present in the international labour market is that they like to control their lives, more so than average employees. 2020 showed them whether they made the right decision regarding the location for their careers. Even if they could not change careers, they had their opinions, and they will change careers as soon as it becomes feasible. If we consider the labour market internationally, it is more dynamic than in any recent period, and it is also true that most jobseekers currently have stable positions. We need to ready ourselves for the fact that the justifications for changing careers have changed. The “I want to start a new life” need will come to the fore, even if we will have to read between the lines to see it.
In the global labour market, most of the best professionals became available again, and fighting for them starts on a new front: COVID-19 performance.