COVID-19 Unemployment crisis. Are you prepared?


The job market in Kenya is facing a major crisis during the Corona Pandemic. Startups, SME’s, and giant corporates are experiencing a sharp decline in business opportunities leading to pay cuts, layoffs, and a screeching halt on hiring. An estimated one million Kenyans have either lost their job or are on unpaid leave. As business owners and managers strategize on the best measures for business continuity during and post corona, How are you preparing yourself to navigate these uncertain times? here are the best practices to prepare for the unemployment crisis:

  1. Keep a Budget

As hard as it is, it’s now time to review expenses and prioritize cutting all unnecessary expenditures. Adopt cost-cutting measures such as negotiating on some expenditures, changing service providers to cheaper options,  reducing on some bills such as the internet, phone, and pay-tv package. Look for avenues to trim your cost so as to lower your budget depending on whether the expense is a need or want.

2. Negotiate the Severance package

In case of a layoff, purpose to be smart and negotiate for a reasonable severance package depending on your employment agreement.  Some of the benefits that can be negotiated include;

  • Payment: Do you want to receive all the severance pay in the form of cash Upfront or spread over time. Are there bonuses or overtime pay to be included.
  • Vacation accrued: depending on the company policy on vacation as per the employee handbook. Accrued leave days should be included in the severance pay.
  • Medical benefits. Depending on when the company cover expires, you can negotiate to remain on the company medical cover for an agreed period of time or even remain on the company cover but at your own cost.
  • Release of liability: Most employees during the contract signing period take on liabilities that may follow them long after employment termination. A good example is a non compete agreement which in many words states an employee cannot enter into or start a similar profession. Negotiate to indemnify your future and permanently waive any claim the company may have against you.
  • Company property: After layoffs,  chances are you will soon start looking for another job, and for the longest time you were using the company laptop. You can negotiate to buy off the laptop or any other property which you were previously using.

3. Reskill and Upskill 

The COVID-19 crisis has brought an urgency for upskilling and reskilling. With people working remotely, and others laid off, company decision-makers have a clear view of who exactly is needed in the organization. Reskilling will make you a need for your company as you will maximize your potential making you a valued asset to the company. To upskill successfully look for roles that share similar skillset with the current skills and identify ways to upskill. A learner-centric approach is key in updating the current knowledge and skills and in return increases productivity making you a need to the current and future organization.

After successfully upskilling and reskilling do not forget to update all your professional profiles both online and offline. Ensure your certification with professional bodies and licenses  are up to date as they will be a great tool in marketing your personal brand

4. Be ready for short term contracts

During and after the COVID pandemic, short term contract, consultancy jobs, and retainer agreement will be the new way of conducting business. Currently, Freelancers are being preferred as a way to cut monthly operating costs and cushion corporates from high-risk staffing options. But,  as the economy starts to recover and with a high rate of unemployment,  the trend will transition to the norm. As an individual who is back on the job hunt, prepare and be flexible to take up these short term contracts which come with immense benefits such as the luxury of flexibility, ability to try new things, and learn new skills as well as the ability to experience the different industries. Learn the various platforms used to advertise such  contracts depending on the industry you are in and build networks as most short term job hires are as a result of network contacts

5. Keep a positive attitude 

The last few months have been uncertain for everyone and characterized by a lot of emotional distress. Job loss or a looming lay off in the midst of a pandemic is adding on to the distress, anxiety, and panic. There is, therefore, a need to be kind to yourself and remember, you are more than what you do in terms or your job. Take the time off and do things you have not done in a while like physical exercise, life restructuring, virtually connecting with family, friends, and professionals. Use the time to re-strategise and set a new goal and most importantly don’t forget to stay mentally active.

As the job market continues to experience increasingly turbulent and unpredictable times, in the words of Bruce Lee, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”