How have you seen the coronavirus pandemic currently affecting rail industry recruiting,
and how do you see it affecting your business in the future?
There’s little doubt the virus is having an effect – witness grocery store hoarding as well as canceled conferences and sporting events. And speaking to the rail industry, transit agencies are reporting ridership decreases. Thus, as a reflection of the current unease, some firms are undoubtedly curtailing their hiring thrust – at least for the moment.
The question then becomes: Is this a short-term influx, or the foreshadowing of a longer durational downturn? While impossible to know, if of a brief duration (i.e., few weeks to a month) most near-term effects should dissipate with the lessening of the societal fight-or-flight response; relative normalcy will return. That said, even with a quick bounce-back, some changes will become permanent. The upturn in video conferencing to facilitate distanced interviews will likely continue forward. As well, with the increased level of disruptions we’re seeing on a daily basis, a return to relative normal will likely encounter numerous hiccups (thinking specifically of the global supply chain rebooting).
If the present shock is the foreshadowing of a longer, structural economic change, businesses will inevitably pull-back on their hiring. Only positions deemed essential will be filled and an elongated period of hiring malaise will be exhibited. And if a more permanent structural transformation, there’s little on the table that won’t be affected; it’s a brave new world.
Fortunately, the U.S. is on a good economic footing to face these headwinds: banks are well-capitalized, unemployment rates are at a low and past GDP growth has been steady. The ensuing weeks will paint a clearer picture of what is to come – and the landscape that lay before us all.