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Supporting Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis

“I lost my job as a server, and my boss told me we won’t be back to work until June 1.”

On Friday, March 27, we convened a brainstorm between the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati and local employees who have lost work to understand their specific concerns and priorities during the COVID-19 health crisis. This is an incredibly difficult time for those who are now without a steady income. It is our hope that these takeaways and ideas will be used to inform community leaders as they look to help those in need.

Top Takeaways:

1. Create a local jobs platform that provides updates to people looking for work about short- and long-term job opportunities. This should include an ability for users to select how they want to receive updates (email, text, or call), how often, and what types of roles they are qualified and willing to do e.g. “Do you have a vehicle and could you utilize it for deliveries?” Job-seekers also want to be able to indicate if they are willing to work outside the home, or if they are only looking for work that can be done remotely.

“I’ve been putting in applications and trying to find work since March 13th, but there is nothing out there. I can’t find anything.”

“A platform that could help us find jobs during this crisis would be helpful. I’ve applied to both Kroger and Walmart, but haven’t heard back. I want to apply to a third shift stocking job to stay away from the traffic and stay safe. It’s becoming really difficult, because no one is hiring because everything is closed.”

2. Develop a “Common Application” for entry-level roles, so that people can quickly fill out basic information that can be used to apply for a variety of potential jobs. People spend too much time filling out the same information for entry level roles at Kroger, Amazon, DHL, CVS and other places. If the Chamber could create a centralized application, where general information only needed to be filled out once and specific questions could be addendums for each company, it would be very valuable.

“A common application for COVID-crisis job would be super helpful. The application process should be more streamlined and flexible for this temporary work.”

3. Guarantee a response time for job applicants so they hear back from employers within a reasonable amount of time. Many applicants, including to companies that are currently hiring, like Kroger, reported waiting more than two weeks to hear back from employers after submitting initial applications. Every applicant felt that quick resolution in one direction or the other in terms of jobs would help them prioritize how to more efficiently spend their time and energy.

4. Transportation will be critical to helping people access available jobs. Applicants said they either need help fixing their cars so they can do delivery jobs, or a carpool or shuttle service to get to warehouse and distribution centers.

“I don’t have a vehicle, so becoming a delivery driver isn’t an option for me. If Amazon had a carpool or a bus, I would definitely do it.”

“I need to get my car fixed, but I don’t have the extra income needed to fix my car up to do delivery.”

Other Concerns, Ideas, and Priorities

Many are still waiting on unemployment money and other assistance, and are concerned about paying April bills in the meantime.

“I have filed unemployment three weeks in a row, haven’t heard back from them and haven’t received any money.”

Almost everyone we spoke with is eager to return to work as quickly as possible, and is flexible about the type of work.

“I am willing to do whatever work I can find to be able to pay these bills.”

“I’m looking for more work. From home would be great, but if there is a safe job somewhere I’d be very interested.”

Smaller important household purchases have been put on hold, and people are already adapting to live without.

“Since I lost my job, I haven’t been able to furnish my new house. I’m just taking it day by day, honestly, to see if I can figure out a way to get the things I need in my house.”

Rent payments and other bills are central concerns, and it would be a huge help if landlords and others who are able would be flexible in terms of payment.

“I’m on Section 8 housing, and when I told my landlord I might not be able to pay, their response was ‘Oh but it’s only a small amount of money.’ which is not the response or humanity I was looking for.”


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