HR, Thought Leaders

IT Industry in Ukraine: How to Support Employees in Wartime

June 30, 2022

by Natalia Shpitula

Fact: Ukraine is one of the biggest European exporters of ICT services.

According to statistics, more than half of Ukrainian IT companies work by outsourcing models. The biggest service consumer is the U.S. (81% of all clients). 

Ukraine is going through the darkest times of its existence these days and the whole world is supporting the country. We understand that giving proper support to employees whose lives are affected by war is challenging for many employers. That’s why the recruiting agency Talentica engaged a professional psychologist in writing the article on how to keep employees productive and motivated during such rough times.

How to Support Ukraine During Wartime

  1. IT Industry in Ukraine During Wartime
  2. Portrait of Ukrainian IT-Specialist
  3. How to Address Employee Stress During Wartime
  4. Provide Support and Motivation
  5. Final Thoughts

IT Industry in Ukraine During Wartime

For the past few years, the IT industry was a stable source of foreign exchange earnings for Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine has received USD 6.8 billion to the state budget from IT services export in 2021 which is 36% more than in 2020. 

During wartime, the IT industry does everything possible to maintain the same service quality. So far, the Ukrainian IT business ensures service continuity by:

  • Implementing business continuity plans prepared in advance, 
  • Relocating staff to safer regions in Ukraine and abroad,
  • Maintaining communication with clients. 

According to Konstantin Vasyuk, Executive Director of the IT Ukraine Association, 92% of IT companies have developed Business Continuity Plans in advance. This practice helped companies to save jobs and continue the business. For example, the unicorn startup Grammarly has made the following actions to stay afloat during the war:

  • safe places for workers and their families,
  • expansion of the Ukrainian team,
  • ensuring the continuous operation of services.

The recruitment company Talentica, which helps Ukrainian developers with employment, is now organizing the relocation of specialists and allocating jobs.

"When it comes to cities from which it's still possible to evacuate people, we use all our resources to find housing in Western Ukraine. If necessary - we allocate jobs in our office. Also, employees can receive psychological assistance." – Ulyana Kalinyuk, CHRO Talentica.

As of June 2022, 40% of Ukrainian IT companies fully restored work, 55% of companies restored working activity by 50-80%, and only 5% of companies managed to restore processes by 20-30%. The industry remains financially stable as 77% of the companies kept almost all their clients and contracts. 

See the image below to see the Ukrainian companies that remained financially stable. 

  • Charts

The charts above also depict companies that kept almost all of their clients throughout the war. 

The IT Ukraine Association referring to the National Bank of Ukraine reports that the Ukrainian IT industry brought USD 2 billion of revenue for Q1 of 2022. The number out beats last year's figures for the same period when revenue amounted to USD 1.44 billion. Despite the difficulties Ukrainians have to face, the IT industry shows that there’s room for collaboration and progress even in hard times.

Portrait of Ukrainian IT-Specialist 

The talent pool of IT specialists in Ukraine is approaching 300,000 people. Most of them are young people from 18 to 32 years old, with high education and a decent knowledge of English. 

Nearly 15 thousand IT specialists graduate from tech universities each year in Ukraine. According to the analysis of IT education, the number of professionals is expected to grow by 23% in 2024 within the country.  

Australian business advisor Tristan Senycia shared his experience in working with Ukrainian tech specialists. He said Ukrainian specialists are tech-savvy and follow technological novelties. They have high problem-solving and technical skills and are quick in learning new technologies. 

Key specialties of IT specialists from Ukraine include: 

  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • Java
  • Python
  • PHP
  • TypeScript
  • Kotlin
  • Swift
  • C++
  • Go

As for soft skills such as communication, Ukrainians are down-to-earth and straightforward, which may seem challenging, but in practice helps to build trustworthy relationships. 

Ukrainian IT service quality and competitive prices have made Ukraine attractive to world-leading corporations such as ​​Samsung, Huawei, Vodafone, Amazon, Volvo, Adobe, Microsoft, etc. Senycia also mentioned that Ukrainian IT companies are aimed to establish long-term relationships with their clients. 

The below image depicts the top computer services export partners. 

Circles

The above image depicts the monetary sums the top computer export partners pay in millions. 

How to Address Employee Stress During Wartime

Why is dealing with employees' emotions an employer’s concern? 

Taking care of employees' well-being has become a part of the corporate culture for many companies. Social and economic changes put pressure on employees leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout. During the Covid-19 pandemic, helping people handle their emotions became crucial for companies' survival. 

It’s almost impossible to imagine what people feel when their country was brutally invaded and how many emotions they have to put aside to continue working. Companies that don't show compassion risk losing employees’ loyalty, team productivity, and unity. As an employer who translates human values, you should get involved and help people keep going.

Understand Their Feelings 

There’s a high possibility that your employees are involved in war somehow. They can have relatives who serve in the military or were affected directly. You should know in what place they are emotionally to offer proper support. We asked Olena Saliy, gestalt therapy consultant, what emotions might feel for those in relative safety. 

Many people who have avoided the tragic consequences of war experience survivor guilt (or survivor syndrome). These people feel guilty because they’ve survived a life-threatening situation when the others had to suffer. People with survivor syndrome may have the thoughts spinning in their heads: 

 
Obsessive thoughts like that develop feelings of helplessness, despair, and apathy. At this point, people go through five stages of grief before getting things together and returning to a normal life to a possible degree.  

Five stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the first stage, people experience difficulties in thinking straight and making the right decisions. They can’t fully accept what is happening. 

Denial is changed by anger toward those who are responsible for their suffering. People usually try to find answers to the questions: “Why is it happening to me? Who is the one to blame?” 

Then comes bargaining when people try to postpone making decisions because it gives them the idea they can avoid the consequences of grief. Depression starts when a person realizes the grief couldn’t just disappear. The disbelief of returning to normal life makes people feel meaningless and stops them from taking care of their lives. And only when the acceptance stage comes, can people again be helpful to themselves and others. 

Provide Support and Motivation

So how can employers help their subordinates stay focused? Commit to empathy, give room for different kinds of emotional reactions and show your respect for people’s feelings. 

Show Compassion 

Don’t go hard on the employees if they can’t deliver quality work, get distracted by news, or feel emotional distress. Instead, try to figure out what exactly they are going through to be able to provide support. It may be a handy solution to create a safe space for people to share their feelings and discuss problems. However, respect people's right to cope with emotions their way and don’t push them to open up. 

Provide Therapeutic Activities 

Suggest your employees try a consultation with a professional therapist. Sometimes it’s hard to realize professional help is what one needs and especially ask for it. However, some of your employees would gladly take an offer, if they knew about such an opportunity. 

You can also help those who aren’t ready to talk to the therapist by setting up sports activities, art classes, or simple fellow meetings. This way, employees will feel supported, stay engaged with their team, and restore a positive attitude. 

Keep Flexible Schedules

Ask managers to be attentive to their subordinates and adjust schedules or working tasks if needed. For example, if they see someone’s difficulty concentrating, they can offer a day off or offload some tasks from this person. Sometimes people need to dedicate enough time to their problems to resolve the influx of emotions. 

The below image summarizes how you can support employees during wartime. 

Heart

The above image depicts the four areas where employers can support their staff. 

Final Thoughts 

Despite all the difficulties Ukraine faces because of the Russian invasion, Ukrainians keep thinking critically and inventing ways to provide quality IT services and make their way to prosperity. 

In such complicated times, support from our partners is crucial. And one of the ways to show it is to continue doing business with our country. You can significantly contribute by hiring Ukrainian developers for your future projects. places for workers and their families.

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