Researchers at St Petersburg University have found out that every fifth citizen and every third organisation in Russia consider that their crisis has been caused by the pandemic. The participants of the second part of the plenary session ‘What to do with employment and how to secure income for the population?’ at the 5th St Petersburg International Labour Forum discussed how the business and citizens have been coping with difficulties. 

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Vera Minina, University professor, research advisor of the ‘Human Resource Management’ master’s programme at the Department of Sociology of Culture and Communication, presented the results of a large-scale research. It covered over 2,500 citizens and over 1,000 experts and representatives of different organisations, economic fields and industries from all federal regions of the country.

According to the survey results, every fifth citizen and every third organisation in Russia believe that they find themselves in crisis due to the pandemic. The major problem for the companies was the reduction of sales volumes and deterioration of the situation with the payment of salaries to their employees. The research showed that every fifth organisation suspended its activity during the restrictive measures and every third organisation transitioned to a hybrid mode of operation. At the same time, many companies managed to cope with all the problems that arose (a bit less than 30% of companies were not able to resolve them) and about 60% of them did so using their own resources. According to Vera Minina, we can see a trend of internal resources for further development being exhausted, which results in the need to prolong the state support measures.

St Petersburg University social scientists have determined three types of organisations and gave their recommendations on support programmes. Thus, the business that has suffered but managed to recover during the coronavirus pandemic requires short-term financial support; while the companies that have not been able to recover will need long-term support programmes. The situation with the organisations in the social sphere is different. They have not suffered on the financial side, but the researchers have noted increased psychological tension and professional burn-out, which affects the quality of the provided services.

The 5th St Petersburg International Labour Forum is held simultaneously in both Russian capitals in a mixed format for the first time from 19 to 23 April 2021. The organisers of the Forum are the government of St Petersburg, St Petersburg University, and the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations with the support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Federal Service for Labour and Employment of the Russian Federation.

Besides, the research has shown that the crises has hit the population in the wallet: 38% of the respondents have reported a decrease in their family income, while 20% of the respondents have had a reduction in salary. Almost 40% of citizens are suffering from the heavy burden of bank loans. In this regard, the measures of state support related to loan assistance, unemployment benefits, and support of families with minor children were evaluated positively by the majority of respondents. The general level of satisfaction with the state support has varied from 50% to 90%. The measures that refer to all citizens and companies have received maximal approval.

The situation with employment has been complicated for the citizens as well. Every tenth respondent has lost their job. Slightly over 16% have noted that they transitioned to a distant work format, which they had not considered as a future form of labour. They would like to return to the traditional format.

Speaking about the changes that have happened during the pandemic, the scientists have noted changes in consumer behaviour in the first place. Many processes have transitioned into the online space. Russian citizens have started to actively use internet-shops and internet-services, which is why businesses will have to adjust to this format.

Due to the fast transition to digital instruments and distant work mode, a whole range of issues related to the labour conditions and compensation of the worker’s costs for maintaining their work place have arisen. While these issues are still not regulated in the legal field, we hope to raise them at the Labour Forum and start looking for solutions.

Vera Minina, Professor at St Petersburg University, Head of the ‘Human Resource Management’ master’s programme

The second part of the plenary session was also attended by: Dmitrii Cherneiko, Chairman of the Committee on Labour and Employment in St Petersburg; Mikhail Zhukov, General Director, HeadHunter; Robert Urazov, General Director, Agency for the Development of Professional Skills (Worldskills Russia); Patrik Antoni, CEO of the Ingka Group of companies in Russia; and Natalia Moskaleva, Deputy Director on Human Resources and Social Issues of the North-West macro-region at Russian Post JSC.