The war in Ukraine and its impact on Poland’s workforce

Since February 24 2022, Poland has experienced the largest immigration since the 90s.

According to the latest data, almost 5 million refugees have entered Poland from Ukraine. According to statistics, more than 90% of them are women and children.

BLOG POST - FEATURED IMAGE The war in Ukraine and its impact on Poland’s workforce

Of course, a large group of refugees will not stay in Poland permanently, but assuming that “only” 20% will stay permanently, this means that Polish labor market will have to absorb about 500,000 women who want to provide for the same number of children.

These Women often have higher education, however, without nostrification of documents, they are unable to obtain employment in their field.

The second – not lesser – obstacle is the language barrier. A Pole and a Ukrainian will probably get along easily, but at work a precise understanding of commands is necessary.

However, pushed by necessity, Ukrainian women will want to take up work, having a number of offers for manual work to choose from.

To accommodate these new workers employers will be obliged to adapt the workplace in accordance with health and safety regulations.

This means, for example, translating and placing all instructions and warnings in Ukrainian – as well as Russian – as a large group of our eastern neighbours, especially from eastern Ukraine, where war is concentrated, know this language better.

The costs involved must be weighed up by employers, as the investment required may only be worthwhile if these new employees will stay in Poland and in their workplace in the long term.

On the other hand, without such an adjustment of the workplace, the desire to stay may not be beneficial to the workers.

And so the vicious circle closes…

However, this situation is nothing revealing –in fact,  the Polish HR Forum was informed about it in April this year.

On the other hand what I feel is eluding us, is the issue of the second half of the million immigrants visiting Poland – namely children.

Children, a large part of whom are teenagers, who in the next 3 to 5 years will reach the age at which they will seek employment themselves.

This means around 100,000 employees for whom the language barrier will no longer be a problem.

What’s more, some of them will have education and/or experience, allowing them to have broader prospects than just physical work – we are already seeing many enterprising, young Ukrainians working in retail, catering, hotel industry, transport.

The lack of raising this topic in the media, may indicate the lack of preparation of the Polish government for this “injection” of workers. And this is a group that can have a significant impact on the shape of expectations – both employees and employers.

“Quo Vadis” one might then ask?

How does one create conditions in which Ukrainian women will feel safe taking up work in Polish companies, which will additionally support the preparation of the young generation of refugees for absorption by our labor market?

There are a lot of solutions – from the aforementioned activities adapting the workplace to Ukrainian workers, to completely ignoring this – available and possible to engage – workforce.

However, the simplest solution is to use the services of organizations available on the market, whose experience and expertise in managing an external workforce translates into quick and easily accessible design of processes adapting workplaces to foreigners.

We must also not forget about the onboarding processes that companies such as CXC deal with on a daily basis, in various organisations – not only in Poland, but around the world. Introducing best practices and tools as a standard in their services  which enable reduced turnover and increased employee satisfaction.

What will that accomplish in the long run?

From an economic point of view – allowing a significant workforce to be absorbed by our labour market will have net positive effect on the Polish economy though additional tax revenue.

We are all hoping for a resolution to the war in Ukraine and when this happens, Ukrainian men will be able to join with their families in Poland. While many will return home, others will come to Poland, where their families will have already built a new life, their children received education and possibility for development.

If this pans out it will mean another six-figure number of job-seekers, but this time, in a country that is already perfectly prepared to give them a variety of opportunities.

There is, however, a very different point of view – many may say even more important.

It is, in simple words, the humane thing to do. Ukrainian people of course need money – but more so, they need a chance, to provide for themselves.

They do not need fish, they need a fishing rod. This will be their part in the fight, and it is up to us, if we help them to continue.