It seems like for the past two years everything was revolving around Covid-19. Hardly a day went by without hearing about a new variation of the virus, the number of people infected or the effects over the economy. It was hard for most of us to imagine how anything worse than this prolonged pandemic could happen. Until it happened.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia shocked the world and left all of us speechless, how in the democratic society we live in, anything remotely close to what happened could happen. And yet it did. Our hearts go out to Ukraine, as it is really horrible to see what is going on there.
With that being said, as a provider of software that solves problems for the staffing industry, we felt compelled to examine how international conflicts affect the recruitment sector and what you, as a company, can do in order to prepare and take advantage of the situation. As bad as it may sound, this is just how the world works — in times of fear some businesses adapt and others are left behind.
Who is impacted?
Needless to say, the countries that are directly involved in the conflict are the ones who will suffer the most. As Neville Chamberlain, a British Conservative statesman, once said: “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers”. It’s not unusual for the initiator of the conflict (or the invasion) to suffer discrimination in terms of the services it can use and provide to other countries. In contrast, the target (often times the weaker party) will suffer in terms of infrastructural damages.
We can see this in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Ukraine has suffered heavy damages in the IT sector due to unreliable internet connection as a result of the attacks. Considering the country’s heavy involvement in banking, insurance and other financial services operations, one can see how losses can pile up quickly. For example, big technology firms like SAP and Wix have either closed their offices or relocated their employees to other, safer, counties.
On the other hand, many tech companies responding to the war in Ukraine have imposed economic sanctions and limited access to advanced tech on Russia, such as halting product sales, limiting services, giving up revenue, etc.
Tech firms are being urged by Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, to step up pressure on Russia and support Ukraine by stopping operations, product sales and services to Russia. Many giants have done so. For example, Google cut off ad revenue to Russian-backed state media outlets, Apple and Microsoft paused new product sales, Oracle and SAP suspended operations, and Meta restricted access to Russian state-controlled media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik.
What can you do?
In such dire situations the decisions are never easy. There’s too much discomfort and risk in them and this is why they pay off so well, if proven successful. So, as opposed to giving you a suggestion of what you should do, we are merely exploring the opportunities that lay ahead.
Considering the world’s frustration against the invader, be it Russia or anyone else, that country will have a hard time exporting labor outside of its territory. Few companies will be willing to take this risk, which gives you the chance to acquire talent at a discounted price due to low demand. The workforce in that country didn’t become any less qualified as a result of the conflict, so why not seize this opportunity? Such a move won’t be seen as a positive action, as some will claim you are supporting violence. At the end of the day, we must not forget that one’s nationality is not always a choice. Not everyone in the invading country supports the invasion (as a matter of fact very few do) and as such, it won’t be fair to discriminate.
An alternative would be for you to seek workforce in the invaded country. The damages to the infrastructure and the closed businesses will leave thousands of people unemployed. This is your chance to give them a hand, use this as a marketing advantage (PR) and be able to pick talent that wasn’t available before. A lot of that workforce will even be willing to relocate to a safer country, so exporting the talent (in a literal sense) won’t be such a problem, as it may have been before.
International conflicts are never a good thing. The interconnected world that we live in nowadays makes us all part of the situation and we can’t just close our eyes and pretend that this will not affect us, because it does (or it will). In this article we explored some of the characteristics and outcomes of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but those principles will be applicable no matter the countries. We also briefly mentioned about the potential opportunities, but whether you decide to seize them or not, is up to you. Just remember that if you don’t, someone else will.