Long COVID and job boards

Long covidThe world has suf­fered through the first (and sec­ond, and third) wave of COVID. Many peo­ple are vac­ci­nat­ed – many more are not. In the U.S. alone, over one mil­lion peo­ple have died the virus, and the death toll con­tin­ues to the tune of hun­dreds per month. Rough­ly 30% of those deaths are peo­ple under 65 – work­ing age. The loss of these peo­ple has been one sig­nif­i­cant effect of COVID on the labor mar­ket.

How­ev­er, there has been a sec­ond effect – one that is still being defined. Long COVID is an inex­act term used to describe a num­ber of symp­toms caused by the ini­tial COVID infec­tion. These symp­toms can from ‘brain fog’, fatigue, mus­cle or joint pain, organ dam­age, heart issues, short­ness of breath, and/or mood changes. These effects have forced many peo­ple out of the labor mar­ket sim­ply can­not as they did before COVID. In fact, one sur­vey indi­cat­ed that 22% of those con­tact­ed had been unable to con­tin­ue work­ing because of their symp­toms.  One recent study found that COVID ill­ness had reduced the labor force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate by 0.2 per­cent­age points by June, mean­ing there were about 500,000 few­er peo­ple work­ing. To put this in per­spec­tive, the esti­mates of long COVID’s effects are equiv­a­lent to about half the cost of all can­cers com­bined.

One final effect of COVID: even if some­one who is cur­rent­ly work­ing is for­tu­nate enough to the virus, they may still leave the labor mar­ket to care for some­one who has it. Much of the U.S. lacks paid fam­i­ly and/or med­ical leave – forc­ing work­ers to make hard deci­sions if some­one in their fam­i­ly becomes dis­abled.

When the direct and indi­rect effects of long COVID are added to the over­all aging of the labor force, you can see that the exist­ing ‘labor squeeze’ is like­ly to con­tin­ue for years to come. So…

What are the impli­ca­tions for job boards and plat­forms? Here are some pos­si­bil­i­ties:

  • Remote work gains val­ue: Remote work is like­ly to become a life­line for those with long COVID. Work­ing in a pro­tect­ed envi­ron­ment, at a self-direct­ed pace, could make the for those suf­fer­ing from fatigue and mus­cle or joint pain.
  • Health care ben­e­fits trans­paren­cy: These have always been impor­tant to U.S. work­ers – but giv­en the many ‘unknowns’ about long COVID, hav­ing a good health plan could be a huge for those who know they have had COVID – and those who don’t.
  • Employ­er expands: Just as employ­ers cur­rent uti­lize employ­er brand­ing on job boards to attract diverse can­di­dates, includ­ing those that have var­i­ous dis­abil­i­ties, you should expect that employ­ers will also focus on can­di­dates with long COVID. (How­ev­er, one chal­lenge for COVID can­di­dates is that there is cur­rent­ly no clin­i­cal diag­nos­tic cri­te­ria for long COVID – thus pre­vent­ing COVID suf­fer­ers from gain­ing a dis­abil­i­ty sta­tus under the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act.).
  • Diver­si­ty job boards expand: Just as diver­si­ty job boards have expand­ed their audi­ences in the past to include new pop­u­la­tions, it is like­ly that they will soon include those can­di­dates with long COVID.

COVID has had uneven effects around the U.S. – and the world. Some regions or nations suf­fered less because of their robust health care poli­cies – while oth­ers suf­fered more because fac­tors rang­ing from pol­i­tics to skimpy or non-exis­tent health care sys­tems. Thus, it makes sense that COVID will con­tin­ue to affect the glob­al job board indus­try dif­fer­ent­ly depend­ing on the nation and loca­tion. Some food for thought as you plan for 2023!

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