We talked to Vera Reshetina of Workee about the impact of COVID-19 on employment.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Vera Reshetina: My co-founder and I were working from home many months before the lockdown. We mostly communicate with our customers online, and our development team is located abroad. So, our nerdy lifestyle has been pretty much the same before and during corona times.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Workee.
Vera Reshetina: My professional journey started in 2002 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where I worked two student jobs in a supermarket and café – which are our target industries today.
A little later – at the age of 24 – I started my first tech company, and like many young people, I was very self-confident and perhaps overly optimistic. Of course, now I think longer before starting anything new, but sometimes you just need to jump into the rabbit hole. I never regretted my decision and enjoyed a digital entrepreneur’s life – during both good and tough times.
During the last 1.5 years, my focus has been Workee – a Danish platform that enables rapid, push-button hiring when and where businesses need new staff.
How does Workee innovate?
Vera Reshetina: Workee was designed to meet the modern job trends. First and foremost, around 65% of employees in service industries prefer to use mobile devices for all work-related issues. Next, from 2014 to 2019, there was a 2,500% increase in “job near me” searches. We combined both tendencies and built a super-easy mobile app that connects job-seekers with companies around them. Following the Workee motto “Less is more,” our engineers skipped all functionality that is not crucial for restaurant, retail, and cleaning companies and made the hiring process as simple and fast as possible.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business?
Vera Reshetina: Denmark was one of the first European countries to introduce lockdown measures. As the Workee app was targeting the most vulnerable industries, being HoReCa, retail, and cleaning, COVID-19 almost paralyzed our activity over one night. The number of jobs posted in Workee dropped by 95% amid the pandemic. Conversely, the number of job-seekers grew tremendously without any ads – due to the skyrocketing unemployment rate. Consequently, we were bombarded by negative feedback from desperate job-seekers. “No real jobs,” “Fake app” – these are examples of reviews that the Workee app received in the spring. We’ve seen thousands of candidates with outstanding skills and talent that were having difficulty finding a job.
Images: unemployment growth rate in Denmark from March 11 to September 27, 2020. Source: Statista.com
How are you coping with the coronavirus crisis?
Vera Reshetina: We’ve noticed that some industries were still hiring despite the quarantine. One of the brightest examples is the construction sector, whose foreign workforce had chosen to return to their homeland during the lockdown. We decided to help construction companies fill in these – often urgent – positions and quickly started campaigns towards this industry. Nowadays, construction jobs make up at least 20% of the positions posted in Workee.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Vera Reshetina: Workee is the only Danish app that has been positioning itself as an HR application for service industries since its launch in June of 2017. Everything, from the app features to marketing campaigns, targets only this niche. This approach has been appreciated by our customers, who value immediate access to the large database of Danish job-seekers filtered by different categories. According to their own reviews, the recruiting process with Workee is much faster than via any other application.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Vera Reshetina: Stress is an integral part of everyone’s life, but the overall anxiety level went from bad to worse in 2020. However, I try to find positive sides despite this unpleasant trend. It’s proven both by researchers and my personal experience that moderate stress can help to build strong interpersonal relationships in teams and keep you motivated and resilient.
What helps us a lot is the understanding that a product that we are building is solving a real problem. Every day Workee helps people find a job in the fastest and simplest way possible – and that’s the best reward for our team and me.