How the pandemic has contributed to inequality for people who work in customer service
History has taught us that epidemics and pandemics affect the most vulnerable people in society. They can significantly result in huge socio-economic inequalities. The coronavirus has exacerbated the socio-economic inequalities that already bedevil many workers across the globe. Interventions implemented at the national, regional, and local levels to fight inequality have largely failed or ineffectively addressed the problem. Hence, the gap between the rich and the middle class has been widening. Socio-economic constraints directly or indirectly associated with the pandemic have affected every industry, and workers in the customer service have not been spared. Before the coronavirus outbreak, workers in the customer service industry were already facing many challenges associated with remuneration and the working environment, and the pandemic worsened their situation. Although every individual has directly or indirectly suffered from the effects of the coronavirus, people in customer services have also been significantly impacted.
Many people who work in the customer service industry rely on businesses to blossom to retain their jobs. Given that a significant number of people who work in customer service are minimum wage employees, the pandemic has pushed them to a wall and resulted in the loss of their jobs. At the onset of the pandemic, it was not possible for many people who work in customer service to acknowledge how hard they would be hit. Many of them hoped that the loss of jobs would be temporary, although this turned out to be a misjudgment. Due to the downfall of many businesses, workers in the customer service were retrenched, and this was due to several factors. First, businesses were forced to cut down on their expenses as their businesses were experiencing a deep in sales. As a result, many of them could no longer sustain the huge workforce they had; hence some of the employees lost their jobs, including customer service personnel. Secondly, the pandemic resulted in a shift in how businesses operate. Many businesses have moved from conventional brick-and-mortar stores to virtual stores. The transformation meant that many of them did not require onsite customer service personnel as they could automate their systems. Many employees who worked in the customer service departments were let go hence pushing them to bankruptcy. The loss of jobs for many customer service personnel has turned upside down their fortunes hence increasing socio-economic inequality (Cui et al. 123).
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened inequality due to the surge in household expenditures across the globe. Many customer service workers are middle-class citizens who have been the most affected by the coronavirus. Even before the pandemic hit the globe, income inequality was highest, and many households were struggling to afford a decent life. The pandemic has partly disrupted production and transportation channels in numerous industries. Inflation in many countries has hit record levels, and this coupled with disruption in the supply chains has seen prices of basic commodities skyrocket. This has been bad news for many people who survive from paycheck to paycheck (Özkazanç‐Pan et al. 695). They can no longer afford to pay their bills as their expenditures have increased, pushing them further into poverty. For most rich people who have diversified investment portfolios, the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic have hit them, but most of them can still afford to sustain their lifestyles. These contradictory effects of the pandemic on the middle class and the rich have further increased inequality. The middle-class citizens are being pushed into bankruptcy as their sources of income have diminished, and the customer service employees have been the recipients.
The pandemic has highlighted the chronic inequality in access to healthcare services and outcomes people considered low and middle income. Many people who work as customer services personnel have been exposed as vulnerable due to unequal access to healthcare services (Scott and Kelly, 85). A 2018 research by the European Commission on access to healthcare revealed that people who fall in the lowest income quintiles even in developed countries were highly disadvantaged in access to effective healthcare. This means that people who work in customer service don’t have access to comprehensive healthcare insurance. The pandemic has further exposed the flaws in the global health care systems and further pushed customer service personnel to oblivion. Hospitalization and care for covid-19 patients are expensive, and this has forced many of those affected to spend their savings and accumulated assets to seek medical care. This has further pushed such individuals into poverty hence increasing inequality across the globe.
Governments have put in place several measures to contain the pandemic’s spread, which has further increased socio-economic inequality. Measures such as curfews, social distancing, and wearing of masks have had repo effects on the health and wellbeing of customer service personnel. At the pandemic outbreak, many people who worked in customer service did not know what to expect. Many of them were unprepared economically, socially, and mentally (Thomeer et al. 450). In addition, many people who worked as customer service personnel have experienced mental inequality due to the psychological and emotional struggles with the coronavirus.
Although many customer service personnel have faced a lot of inequalities due to the pandemic, numerous steps could be taken to help minimize it. First, there is a need to ensure that customer service employees ensure they protect their mental health through regular exercising and sharing their worries. Everyone needs to acknowledge that they must prioritize their physical and emotional wellbeing (Williamson et al. 110). This will go a long way in minimizing the potential for hospitalization due to mental-related challenges. Second, now that the government provides vaccines for free, it is vital for all customer service personnel to ensure they protect themselves by getting vaccinated. Vaccination against Covid-19 is a reliable way of reducing the risk of hospitalization if one contracts the virus and saving on the money that would have been used to seek healthcare services.
Government interventions have also gone a long way in helping address the inequality that the coronavirus has increased. As part of the federal and local governments’ interventions to help companies and employees cope with the pandemic’s impacts, many programs have been initiated to curb the inequality. It is vital for customer service personnel to be on the lookout to ensure they benefit from the government interventions. This would go a long way in ensuring that many people do not become bankrupt or lose their sources of income. Failure to ensure that the run-away inequality that results from the coronavirus is addressed would increase the socio-economic inequality.
Cui, Ruomeng, Hao Ding, and Feng Zhu. “Gender inequality in research productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Manufacturing & Service Operations Management (2021).
Özkazanç‐Pan, Banu, and Alison Pullen. “Gendered labour and work, even in pandemic times.” Gender, Work, and Organization 27.5 (2020): 675.
Scott, Maura L., and Kelly D. Martin. “Introduction to the Commentary Series: Inequalities and Divides as We Continue to Grapple with a Global Pandemic.” (2021): 83-88.
Thomeer, Mieke Beth, Jenjira Yahirun, and Alejandra Colón‐López. “How families matter for health inequality during the COVID‐19 pandemic.” Journal of family theory & review 12.4 (2020): 448-463.
Williamson, Ben, Rebecca Eynon, and John Potter. “Pandemic politics, pedagogies and practices: digital technologies and distance education during the coronavirus emergency.” (2020): 107-114.