“With a heavy heart I am posting this on my wall after waiting and facing so much pain and struggle in past 8-9 months. I was holding my hands to not show my pain to anyone but today I lost it all. I am jobless since Sept. 2020 as pandemic ensued. To make matters worse I am the sole bread-winner of a 5-member family.

I paid for everything even after losing my job till the funds lasted. But now I am broke and shattered. My daily job-hunting efforts are not showing any results. Banks are not letting me survive, not is my landlord ready to listen. I stay in a rented property and today I was threatened to arrange the entire rent amount that I have defaulted for the last 6 months or else I will be dealt in the most ‘appropriate’ manner. How can I arrange to pay for the pending rent when I do not have money to pay for the daily bread and how will I pay all this without a job? But my despair knows no audience.

I am blank, how will I come out of this situation? This is my first and maybe my last appeal. Please support me in case you have a suitable job. Least please share my post for better reach. Thank you…”

When I opened my professional networking app this morning, I was heartbroken to read this post by a person having more than ten years of good experience. It takes one to crush one’s self-esteem to put out such a post on the public platform and shows just how desperate is his situation. But he is not alone in going through such an ordeal. This pandemic has triggered one of the biggest crises that people are facing on this planet that of survival. And it is just not staving-off the infection or the fear of it, more so it is the struggle to survive. Millions of people have lost their jobs and incomes, and with the economy in the doldrums, see no way of recovering from their situation in near future. 

To be fair, this has not been easy for the companies as well. The business has shrunk, so have the revenues and profits. Cash flow has been a problem. But frankly, I also think pandemic has been a test of character for all of us including the businesses. To see the large companies, sitting on huge cash-pile earned over the years by the hard work of their employees, ruthlessly laying-off the same people who once helped them become the prima-donna of their industry. At a time when employees need them most, they are deserted by their companies. Most of these companies, I am talking about are the ones whose net worth may be more than the GDP of some smaller nations. They are in a position to support the companies during this existential crisis, if they want to. The true differentiator has not been the financial health of the company or the performance of their shares on wall street or their revenues, profits and cash flow; it has been the INTENT. There are exceptions as well – a large conglomerate that did not lay-off a single employee despite a huge shrink in their business profitability. They recently made an announcement that all employees who lost their life due to pandemic, their families will continue to draw full salary that the employee was drawing until the year of their schedule retirement for the company. Exceptional, isn’t it but such companies, unfortunately, have been few. When I come to know that one of the biggest airlines in the world layoffs its people, I know they could have done better; when an associate tells me that her friend, a high-performer, was shown the door the moment she reported to the company that she had contracted the virus, I know they could have done better; And when both working parents lose their battle to Covid leaving behind two infant children and neither of their company steps forward to assume any responsibility, I definitely know that their much-touted company values and motto statement are no more than tall hollow claims.

Amazingly, while most big companies have faltered on their reputation, the smaller humbler local businesses have shown the way what true intent can achieve. Despite not having the luxury of a bulky cash pile under their pillows, they have led with kindness and compassion. They have taken their employees into the confidence of the true state of business and have strived to fight it together with a motto to stay together – no matter if they make it to the ‘shore’ or end up mid-sea. Sacks Bee, Saluto, WiseOwl Marketrix and Blossoms are just a few examples of the exceptional display of true intent by local businesses in India, who despite not having fancy taglines to claim how much they value ‘human resource’ have led with kindness and compassion.

The more one has, the less secure one is, everyday living in a fear of losing all. While those with limited means, find ways to share and care. This will remain perhaps the biggest irony that life taught me during these testing times.