COVID-19 drastically changed the global employment landscape—and it changed it quickly. Within a matter of months, there were more than 20 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits. It is clear that rebuilding during the economic downturn and getting Americans back to work will be a long, hard climb.
However, some business owners are hopeful. According to a recent Vistage survey, 36% of small business owners believe their total number of employees will increase during the next 12 months, despite earlier layoffs and furloughs resulting from the pandemic.
Even with a positive outlook on expanding teams in the months to come, hiring following the economic fallout from COVID-19 will bring on a new set of challenges for HR teams. Here’s how to help solve them:
- Determine whom you are bringing back: As the economy begins to rebuild, there will be a lot of available “free agents” who are looking for employment. Hiring teams will be able to bring back their prized workers and upgrade other positions by onboarding new talent. Previously furloughed talent may even be able to come back onboard in a new role. Now is a great time to assess what skills you’re looking for and who in your existing pool of talent possesses them.
- Look at your benefits packages: Workers are now likely going to prioritize benefits for health care and security moving forward. As teams begin to bring back their workers or hire new employees, reexamine the types of “perks” that are important to workers in a post-COVID world.
- Be flexible with new work schedules: The appeal of the standard 9–5 is gone. During the stay-at-home orders, the workforce proved they can be productive outside of the office and normal office hours. As we return to work, many will feel more comfortable continuing to work from home, and employers will need to be flexible. Creating schedules that allow for some days at the office and some days at home will likely become the norm when possible.
- Continue to prioritize culture: Company culture continues to be as important as ever, especially as businesses begin to hire again. Companies that had a strong culture before the crisis will be in much better shape to bring back desired workers and attract new ones. During this “Great Wait,” culture will help businesses stay focused on their fundamentals: people, mission, and values.
- Be ready to act: Company leaders and hiring teams need to constantly watch for signs that business is picking up again, meaning they can hire and bring back former employees. Given the influx of top talent that will be looking for new work, the moment a business can hire again, it should.
According to the same Vistage survey, 39% of small business owners believe their company’s profits will increase within the next year. With this optimism, companies need to design new growth plans, including hiring.
COVID-19 has completely changed the workforce and employment landscape. However, with the proper tools and some creative thinking, hiring teams can begin to bring back the best talent for their company in meaningful ways.
As chief research officer for Vistage, a leading executive coaching organization for small and midsize businesses, Joe Galvin is responsible for providing Vistage members with current, compelling, and actionable thought leadership on the top issues, topics, and decisions of small and midsize business CEOs.