Coronavirus Outbreak: How Employers & Employees Are Responding


March 2, 2020

With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to spread around the world, employees and employers are already responding. On Glassdoor, we’re seeing several new jobs coming online showing how certain organizations are preparing to tackle the virus, while employees in different countries are commenting on what they’re hearing from their employers to keep safe. In this post, we briefly examine evidence of how employees and employers are reacting on Glassdoor’s platform.

More Jobs Responding to the Outbreak

The global public health response is beginning to show up in Glassdoor data. Dozens of job postings for health care workers, scientists and data specialists are popping up as organizations prepare for the outbreak. In addition to health care workers, employers are also hiring communications specialists and consultants to address this sensitive topic with the public and other stakeholders. Several jobs posted on Glassdoor are quoted below:

How are Employees Reacting?

Employee reviews on Glassdoor discussing the outbreak report a variety of workplace challenges from disruption of business operations to cancelled interviews to lack of work-from-home arrangements. Notably, some reviews cite serious economic consequences including diminished business outlook or pay cuts. Excerpts from select reviews are quoted below:

  •  “Travel downturn with coronavirus etc. adds more challenge”
  • “She told me that due to the coronavirus outbreak, my employment could only commence in March.”
  • “Vulnerable industry and business – Hit by the coronavirus in 2020 and immediately start sagging staff and cutting salaries on a significant amount”
  • “It took 3 weeks after coronavirus for employees to be able to work from home because the company is so cheap they won’t even get people laptops during emergency situations.”
  • “I was told [by] the staff the interview was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak which I can totally understand”
  • “Coronavirus causing fear of travel.”
  • “… relies on international manufacturers, and we all feel the squeeze when production issues happen. With Coronavirus and Brexit, that might become even more of an issue – but it’s something that’s no doubt felt by most businesses in the UK at the moment.”
  • “Recent coronavirus outbreak and no work from home arrangements or flexibility. Putting everyone at risk, especially those of us with children and elderly to look after.”

Conversely, we have seen several employees praise their companies’ response. Some unifying themes from these responses have been a combination of transparent communication and substantive action. Excerpts quoted below:

  • “Impressed with the way our company is handling the coronavirus outbreak situation. They are very efficient in taking all the necessary measures to ensure utmost safety and precaution. We have been provided with surgical masks, Dettol spray, vinyl gloves, hand wipes and temperature is being taken 2 times a day. HR is also tracking very closely those who have travelled anywhere (not just to China) during this period, as well as any staff who has come into close contact with anyone from China. Our MD has had a talk with us to ensure that our company will do the best it can and take necessary measures to keep the employees safe. I feel very reassured that the situation is taken so seriously and is well  under control in the place where I spend more time than anywhere else.”
  • “Recently, I was worried about my salary and job security with the emergence of the coronavirus in China but the school acted quickly and provided a reasonable online schedule allowing me to continue to teach English via my computer. All of the equipment has been provided to me and they continue to pay my full salary, so they have turned what could have been a terrible experience for me, into a very positive one.”

Additionally, business outlook ratings—as reported by employees on Glassdoor—are trending down for companies and employees based in affected countries: China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea. While the decline so far has been modest, reports from workers on the frontlines are one way to get an understanding of how confident employees feel that businesses can get back on their feet once the outbreak is contained. Employee confidence will be a metric we watch closely in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

We’re beginning to see early evidence of the reaction to the coronavirus outbreak on Glassdoor. New jobs are being posted for health agencies, companies and international organizations as they gear up to respond to the outbreak. Additionally, employees are paying close attention to their employers’ response to the outbreak and are sharing their thoughts on the topic in Glassdoor reviews. Many employees report concerns with disruptions to their workplaces and the outlook for their businesses, while others have praised their companies for transparent communication. While the global trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak is a big unknown, we’ll be watching Glassdoor’s platform closely for more evidence of how employees and employers are reacting.