Its exactly 4 years ago that I founded Social-Bee (www.social-bee.de), right in the middle of the refugee crisis. And a lot of what we experience today during the corona crisis reminds me of how I felt at that time. I actually realized how my experiences back then made me stronger today to not only survive but to stay creative, to develop new ideas and thus to become part of the solution. Because learning from each other and working together will help us all navigate through this time I want to share my five key takeaways for dealing with a crisis:
1. Seeing the opportunity in a crisis
I really do wish there weren’t any refugees in Germany. Just as my colleagues wish they didn’t have to flee war, persecution, and hunger but could live their lives in peace. 2015 Germany was faced with the biggest number of asylum seekers so far, many of which still don’t have any secure prospects. Not having any security is something most german citizens and organizations can relate to right now as corona has broken down structures in most areas of our lives. But why not see what can`t be undone as an opportunity for growth? Why not look behind the word refugee and see the amazing personalities willing to integrate themselves as professionals in the workforce? And why not see the old structures breaking down as a chance to build a stronger foundation?
2. Flexibility instead of perfection
Do we really need perfect language skills for every position? Can we loosen the qualification criteria to give chances to the disadvantaged? Those are questions that come up a lot when trying to employ refugees. In the long term potential and motivation usually outweigh a perfect CV. By focussing on the learning curve we`ve discovered many diamonds in the rough. During the turbulent times right now we can use this flexibility and ask new questions: Are all of those meetings really necessary or can we find better ways of communication? Do we need to have physical Interviews or can we employ people via video-calls?
3. The importance of employment
Many are experiencing a lack of structure and are feeling kind of lost right now. We are all experiencing what it feels like to not go to work, not talk to colleagues and to be restricted in our tasks. During a time full of uncertainty having a purpose gives us the necessary motivation to stay positive. That’s exactly why we believe in empowerment through employment. Being appreciated, financially independent and having a structured day makes living in a foreign country (or a foreign situation) a lot easier.
4. Going back to the basics
There’s no point in asking standardized recruiting questions when talking to someone that had to leave everything behind to save themselves and their families. Talking about dreams and perspectives isn’t your main concern when your basic human rights are threatened. So we have to go back to the basics. That means instead of looking for someone’s dream job we try to realize their dream of finding any job. It’s a matter of asking what’s really important and starting there. That’s something we had to do over and over again as the current crisis has canceled most of our plans and made it impossible to run our daily business as usual.
5. Having a team that’s up for any challenge
Integration is a process, it’s about familiarisation and changing habits. That can’t happen within days or weeks and in some cases it can even take years. Having a team that’s up for the challenge is therefore crucial. Being open to suggestions, ready to change outdated structures and willing to communicate freely and constructively is key. As we are all trying to integrate into this new reality these traits have come in handy. Being part of a team that’s motivated to take on every challenge thrown our way is an incredibly empowering feeling and makes me grateful to work with these people every day.
A crisis always comes with a lot of suffering, personally, economically, socially. However, I believe we could change the perspective and see it as an opportunity to learn and to develop. Taking the time for reflection is often a luxury, but if this is over someday, I would be happy if we all take out a few things that make us stronger and better prepared for the future. Lets not just accept and wait this situation out, but let’s stay flexible, challenge the status quo and start asking the right questions. For example,
is it really necessary to travel as much as before?
Do you still need a personal interview to employ someone?
When was the last time you said thank you to your team?
Do you really not have the time to call your grandparents every week?
Why do you still not know your neighbors and why can’t you answer the question if they need help or not?
What can you do to contribute in your business or personal life to help society to overcome this crisis? And on long term, to make this a better world?