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Coronavirus pandemic reduces unemployment stigma

Nearly half (47%) of HR professionals believe stigma surrounding unemployment has reduced since the coronavirus pandemic started, according to new research.

The majority (82%) of respondents to a LinkedIn survey said there was stigma surrounding unemployment before COVID-19, a quarter (26%) said it had stayed the same, and a fifth (21%) think it has increased.

While over half (51%) of HR professionals reported being ‘more wary’ about interviewing or hiring someone that is currently unemployed, 61% said they are very receptive to interviewing people that have been furloughed or made redundant as a result of the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

Janine Chamberlin, senior director at LinkedIn, said: “Businesses that fail to look past the stigma of unemployment will miss out on the biggest talent windfall in a generation.

“Forward-thinking companies are focusing less on candidates’ current employment status and related previous experience, and more on their transferable skills, personal attributes and what they can uniquely bring to the business.”

The study also found that four in five (83%) HR professionals believed there are advantages to hiring people who are out of work.

Talent professionals said that unemployed candidates are often more committed to the role (66%), resilient (48%) and proactive (41%). The top factors that determine whether companies hire candidates include trustworthiness (62%), positivity (59%) and transferable soft skills (56%).

Further reading

Second wave of coronavirus and no-deal Brexit threaten UK employment prospects

Handling redundancies with sensitivity

Furlough scheme extension: is it too late to save jobs in a second lockdown?

It is not just HR professionals who think that COVID-19 has changed the way unemployment is viewed.

An additional survey by LinkedIn also found that 68% of respondents feel there is now less stigma attached to redundancy as a result of the pandemic.

The survey showed those who have experienced redundancy due to COVID-19 are three times more likely to ask for help and lean on their network of friends, family and former colleagues (33%), compared with those who had experienced redundancy prior to the pandemic (9%).

Emily Spaven, UK editor of LinkedIn News, said: “Over the last six months, many have received difficult news about redundancy due to COVID-19, but on LinkedIn we’ve seen many of our members turning to the platform to share their experiences, ask for support and find new opportunities.

Spaven said that the shock of the pandemic has changed the way redundancy is spoken about. She commented: “What’s striking is the level of honesty and openness we’ve seen in discussions around redundancy, compared to those before the pandemic.”

The first survey was carried out by LinkedIn in November 2020 and questioned 253 HR professionals in medium to large organisations in the UK.

The second was a survey of 2,000 UK adults who have been made redundant prior to, or as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, conducted by Censuswide in October 2020.