Hire for More than Warm Bodies

The ripple effects of the COVID-19 crisis continue to increase as the unemployment rate rises to levels we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.


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We’ve seen layoffs and furloughs from companies that are struggling to stay afloat. Other organizations have merely closed their doors. However, with this current employment crisis have come opportunities for companies that are thriving while providing solutions during these uncertain times.

We’ve seen companies like InstaCart, a home delivery grocery service, grow because people no longer want to go to supermarkets. The company has recruited Uber and Lyft drivers to provide this service, as commuters are no longer hiring them for trips to airports and restaurants.

Likewise, pizza delivery chains such as Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut are thriving and hiring thousands of new employees to meet the demand of home delivery. These companies have pivoted their business models with such new features as “touchless pizza,” guaranteeing their workers are wearing masks and never touching pizzas in the production/delivery process. They are also offering “custom delivery” points, permitting delivery to locations other than your home.

Perhaps the largest recruiters today are Walmart and Amazon, which are advertising for positions at their fulfillment and warehousing facilities. It would seem as though the growing number of unemployed would make the hiring decisions easy.

Intensifying Complexity for HR Departments

But take a closer look at the overall situation, and you’ll find it has become more complex for an overworked Human Resources department usually charged with hiring. Mistakes can be made when hiring large numbers of people in a matter of weeks. Fluid peaks and valleys are forever changing, and how long will the high or low volumes exist? Walmart, for example, announced in March that it would be adding more than 150,000 people to its workforce during a 3-month period.

These organizations, and others, could benefit by using a third party to handle vetting and hiring. Staffing and recruiting firms frequently bring value to times like these and can be used as the segue to full-time employment.

When handled exclusively in-house, important details can be overlooked and volumes not met. For example, over the years, there have been instances when improperly vetted delivery people have committed crimes on the job. Companies were sued when it was discovered these employees had criminal records. In addition, production levels are still not being met due to the timeliness of the process.

Going Beyond Warm Bodies

In many cases, these companies are looking for “warm bodies” and hiring without going through the proper steps of doing detailed qualification checks that match companies’ policies. A minor criminal infraction may be overlooked or regarded as no big deal. One wrong hire can result in significant problems. There are plenty of candidates, but are they the right people, and are in-house hiring departments taking the proper steps? It’s all about understanding the client’s needs and HR requirements.

Frequently, these staffing companies will have fully vetted, qualified people ready to work. This can save valuable time for corporate hiring and HR departments. These companies can also consider using staffing and recruiting companies for these positions. All liability is transferred to these organizations, so it’s likely that the right people will be hired, and if not, the company is not responsible for mishaps.

Staffing and recruiting companies are also aware of work safety environments, and they’ll quickly be able to assess if companies are meeting these standards. This is particularly important today, when companies are being sued for negligence and wrongful deaths because employees have contracted the COVID-19 virus at work.

These third-party organizations will also be aware of any drug-related offenses committed by potential employees if requested by the client. They will be up to date on drug testing protocols and technology, how laws differ state by state, and if candidates have ever been arrested or fired due to a drug-related event. These companies are also experienced in determining if vacancies should be filled by temporary, project, temp-to-perm, or full-time position workers.

HR and hiring departments are dealing with a wide range of other issues that may distract them from hiring the right people. Some may be dealing with layoffs and furloughs in other departments. Others are grappling with benefits administration and coordinating a remote workforce. It is a confusing time.

The companies that are hiring must do it the right way and acknowledge that great care must be taken if they are to continue to prosper during this difficult time. Yes, there are many, many people standing in line for jobs. But one hire can quickly ruin a company’s brand and damage its path to success during this pandemic and beyond.

Von David Stertzbach is senior vice president of EmpHire, a Broward County-based Human Resources and staffing company. EmpHire, founded in 1991, creates customized hiring programs that include temporary, project, temp-to-perm, or full-time positions. Last year, the firm filled more than 3,000 positions in a wide range of industries. These sectors include food services, hospitality, event planning, warehousing, accounting, government, light industrial, health care, logistics/distribution, and others.

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