Europe’s Wage Subsidies May Not Prevent 9 Million Job Losses

One in five furloughed workers in Europe might lose their jobs despite generous support measures designed to prevent that, according to research by Allianz economists.
Close to a third of Europe’s workforce -- or 45 million jobs in the five largest economies alone -- are benefiting from state support schemes that compensate the lost pay of workers on reduced hours. While these programs are often credited with preempting the sort of short-term mass unemployment seen in the U.S., economists led by Katharina Utermoehl say about 9 million of them could lose their jobs once support measures run their course.

Trouble Ahead

Allianz economists see mounting job losses despite wage subsidies
Source: Allianz Research
Note: Forecast loss of employment (share of sectoral employment) based on expected output loss by end 2021
The findings illustrate the growing risk of a longer-term spike in unemployment that would weigh down on Europe’s recovery from the worst recession in living memory. Industries including accommodation, food services, entertainment, and retail will likely not recover to pre-crisis activity levels until late 2021, the researchers said. Ongoing sanitary restrictions, social distancing, and uncertainty over domestic and external demand mean workers in these industries “face an elevated risk of becoming unemployed in 2021 because of the muted recovery.”
“One of the issues policymakers will have to address is the risk that zombified jobs will see some workers stay in ‘late-bloomer’ sectors for income protection” instead of moving toward better job opportunities, according to the report. “Combining active labor market policies (up-skilling, intermediation) with wage subsidies is both urgent and important.”
a manager, your team may often come to you with problems. If you take this as your cue to offer opinions or make suggestions, you run the risk of setting a dysfunctional precedent, keeping you involved in .
A better alternative is to coach your team. Instead of simply instructing, you ask questions to help your teamwork through their problems and uncover options to move forward.
As you transition from instructor to coach, you will inevitably find yourself in this common situation:
To a solution-oriented person, ‘I don’t know’ is an almost-irresistible invitation for ideas. However, if you’re the primary source of ideas and solutions, you haven’t really delegated the problem.
(Note: I’m assuming we’re talking about a work problem here, rather than asking for information or context).

How to Coach an ‘I Don’t Know’

If you want your team to become great managers in their own right, you have to keep your ideas to yourself and help them think for themselves.
Coach the person, not the problem.
Here are some alternative ways of reacting to ‘I don’t know’. They can help your team deal with the current problem, and maybe even the next one too.

‘Do I have permission to coach you?’

Ideally, you’ve already set up a coaching relationship, but if not, asking for permission will help you transition into ‘question mode’.

‘Take a few moments to think it through before you answer.’

Give your colleague permission to think. A silent pause can also provide more thinking time.

‘What specifically don’t you know?’

Help your colleague pin the problem down. A specific frame can help generate new ideas.

‘What have you tried so far?’

Help them run through what they’ve already done. If they haven’t tried anything at all, perhaps  the problem.

‘What are some ways you might find out?’

Don’t assume your colleague is helpless. Ask them where they can look for answers.

‘When were you in a similar situation in the past?’

We’ve all faced challenges before. Sometimes a reflection question will help us remember what worked last time.

‘Where exactly are you getting stuck?’

Ask your colleague to run through their thought process. The ability to think about thinking is a useful skill.

‘What do you know.’

Reversing the question can sometimes uncover an insight, by encouraging a different point of view.

‘There are many ways to skin a cat. What are some of the possibilities?’

Asking for a single answer may put additional pressure on the response. Assuming there are multiple possible solutions eases the pressure and starts the ball rolling.

‘What’s your opinion on how to handle this?’

The word ‘opinion’ is another way of making it safer to speak.

‘What do you think wouldn’t work?’

Sometimes people discard good ideas prematurely. Investigate what’s in the ‘ideas bin’ of schemes that have been discounted.

‘If you prepare some detailed notes, how about we spend 15 minutes going through it tomorrow?’

This combines two techniques. Firstly, it asks your colleague to write out structured notes to help them connect the dots. Secondly, it gives them extra time to either find an answer or for the problem to go away.

‘Assuming you find an answer, what would you do afterward?’

Problems aren’t always blockers and the next step will be the same regardless of the solution — which can also buy your colleague time.

‘Would you like to brainstorm?’

Set the stage for creative ideas, good and bad, and keep asking for  answers. Rather than voicing too many (or any) ideas, keep asking ‘What else?’

‘Just a hunch, but it seems like something else is going on here.’

Often, the problem they bring isn’t their  problem. Using labels like ‘it seems’ can help them go deeper and uncover the root of the issue.

‘Let’s not accept defeat yet. Tell me more about this.’

We’ve all been guilty of giving up too soon. Keep them motivated and moving forward.

‘What are you trying to achieve?’

To me, this is the ultimate coaching question. Helping people reconnect with what’s important to them never fails to improve clarity.

What If Your Team Still Doesn’t Know?

If you fail in your attempts to encourage the team to think out loud — or if you simply run out of time — bring up the situation in your next one-on-one. Just like sports coaches, team coaches seek opportunities for ‘play-by-play’ diagnoses, to get to the root cause and find ways to improve next time.
It could take a few months to fully empower your team to work through their own problems, so don’t expect ‘I don’t know’ to go away quickly. In fact, the complete absence of ‘I don’t know’ might even be a signal that the team isn’t being challenged. Think of ‘I don’t know’ as your call to coaching.
And if you have someone on the team who’s truly unable to solve their own problems, don’t delegate problems to them. Find someone else to whom you can.

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