Highlights from Arthan’s HR Survey: The impact of COVID-19 on jobs in the Impact Sector

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Highlights from Arthan’s HR Survey: The impact of COVID-19 on jobs in the Impact Sector

By Radhika Jajoo

We are living in strange times. Close to 209 countries and territories have reported cases of COVID-19. The world is grappling with a health crisis – at a scale and rate – that is unknown and unprecedented for us. While most governments have launched health responses to counter the human impact of the virus, there is also a significant commercial impact that is being felt and will be felt globally. 

To manage this change, organizations have changed the way they work – endorsing video interviews, working from home, halting in-person meetings, cancelling conferences, cutting down travel – these are only a few changes describing the new normal. It is a radical new way of thinking about how the workplace should operate. In the days to come, we would be witness to many more changes in the way the world operates, in the way we live and the way we work. 

The impact sector in India has been no exception and has been impacted by the same – programs on the ground have stopped, more and more organisations are re-inventing the way they work and adapting to technology better. 

Given the impact of COVID-19 on jobs and talent management in the social impact sector, Arthan conducted a survey to gather information from 130+ impact organisations to understand trends of how the sector is coping with the pandemic. These organisations included NGOs, social businesses, foundations and enablers.

Executive Summary of the Survey


  • 47% of the respondents indicated that they will continue hiring for critical roles, whereas 45% of respondents mentioned that they have frozen hiring completely for the unforeseeable future. Only 8% of respondents said that they planned on hiring as usual.

New hires

  • 58.1% of organisations had to delay the joining of new employees. 
  • The remaining 41.9% are onboarding employees using virtual meeting platforms such as zoom, providing mentors to new hires, providing support through regular check-ins and communications, informal meetings to know the team better, etc  
  • Close to 11% of the respondents shared that they had to retract an offer shared earlier 


  • Only 20.5% of the total respondents are going ahead with appraisals as planned
  • 47.7% have to pause on giving increments for now
  • 9.1% are reducing the percentage of increments
  • Remaining 22.7% are either unsure or will have to delay the appraisal cycle. 

Salary cuts

  • 23% of organisations are reducing the salaries of existing employees. 
    The senior and middle management will be facing the brunt of salary reduction for most of these organisations. 
  • For organisations that are not reducing salaries, the only options are to either try and raise more funds or give employees leave without pay.

Other insights

  • 30% of the organisations mention capacity building and training their existing staff as a key area they need to focus on. Crisis management and mechanisms to ensure motivation & productivity are some of the other challenges that organisations are grappling with. 
  • Many organisations are looking at ways to reduce operational and logistical costs. 
  • Many organisations are putting earlier plans of expansion on hold. Team building activities like retreats and knowledge-building events like annual days and conferences have also been cancelled in an attempt to cut costs. 

About Arthan
Arthan is a social enterprise dedicated to transforming human capital in the social impact sector in India. We work with organizations in the impact sector and help them with hiring, building HR policies & processes and organizational development; building their capacity in the human capital domain.

Since our inception in 2016, we have worked with 609 social impact organisations (105 through HR Consultancy and 504 through online tech solution), and 60,000+ job seekers across levels, sectors and geographies.

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