Joao Alves

Engineering Manager at Skyscanner

Furlough schemes - solution or problem?

Posted at — Jun 3, 2020

This piece was originally posted in Portuguese at Opinioes - a Portuguese website with opinion articles on technology subjects. I decided to translate it and post it here in English as well.


Furloughs and other hour reduction schemes have never been talked about as much as during this Covid-19 crisis. Government programs having them as a base and with shared costs, for sure helped that spread happening. These programs contributed to making furlough schemes more attractive for any business. At the same time, something that would have been seen as a negative started to be seen with different eyes during this. Furlough schemes became a support mechanism so people are able to keep their job after the crisis.

I understand and believe that many companies suffered badly with this crisis. I do ask myself, if they could have chosen a different path. It’s scary to understand how so many businesses were managed until this point. Several reverted to these programs at a very early stage. Without enough context or data about this crisis and its possible impact. Would be interesting to understand how those businesses handle their accounts. And more important would be to understand what value they give to their employees in comparison.

In IT, the competition for talent is constant. The offer is not enough for the demand levels and the existing constant rotation. Normally, salaries are also higher. And with job opportunities still available, these schemes become more an exit invitation.

After this crisis and a return to a new (ab)normality that we’ll live, that competition will be even harder. Investment and a need for quick delivery and throughput will quickly return. Companies losing talent now will face other difficulties. There are several examples of companies with the capacity to do so, that are investing hard in hiring. The talent pool will be smaller. People will evaluate and judge options taken during this crisis. The choice between a company that moved quickly to furloughs and one with a more moderate approach will be an easy one. In fact, that will probably be one of the best questions to ask during a job interview.

To conclude, I get it and accept that businesses use such schemes as a survival mechanism. I do believe though, that those capable of it, should invest in talent and not the opposite. Curious for the future.

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