As businesses begin to open their doors after the COVID-19 shutdown orders, many are thinking about not only where their business is heading but what people they need to get there.
At Affinity HR Group, many of our clients have been making hard decisions about retaining staff in a down market. The decision to let employees go is never an easy one, and to do so in such an uncertain time is difficult. I have yet to meet a business owner who is not emotionally impacted by the staffing decisions they face.
We’ve also seen clients recognize that with great turbulence comes the opportunity to correct problems that may be lingering within their organizations. On one recent industry video call, a business owner asked, “How many of you have discovered the weak links in your company since the pandemic hit? You know who’s not cutting it, don’t you?"
Virtually every owner was able to see with great clarity who are their rock stars and who are their weak links. The consensus among those in attendance was that this is the right time to make strategic staffing decisions to build the right team to move their businesses forward during recovery.
Here are four tips to get the ball rolling:
1) Define what you need. It is difficult to think strategically when operating in crisis mode. Workplace interruptions and the push for remote work have realigned not just what employers do but how they do it.
The lessons learned during this time may point to a new direction for your company as you work to minimize market or organizational threats and maximize and prepare for future opportunities. As you contemplate that realignment, defining what you need from your people to move forward is essential.
That may require re-tooling and developing the skills and capabilities of your current employees. Perhaps it will require letting go of some staff who lack the competencies or behaviors that you will need. And perhaps it will require hiring different talent for what your new future requires.
Now is the time to think critically about what and who you will need on your team. You may not have the financial certainty at this point to hire new talent, but by defining what you will need today, you can start the process of creating space and structure for that talent. Doing so means that when you can afford to hire, you’ll be clear on what you’re looking for.
2) Fill your funnel early. Under the best of circumstances, finding and hiring the best talent takes time. Over the past few years, Affinity’s average fill time has remained 45-60 days, and that was during times of historically low unemployment rates.
With economic disruption and unemployment at record highs, we don’t know what the fill time rate will be going forward, but there is a silver lining: In recent years, many employers have felt the need to hire substandard talent to fill critical positions because there was simply not enough talent available with the skills necessary to perform at the level needed.
We anticipate that current market disruptions mean that, for the first time in many years, there is going to be a large pool of highly-qualified talent available that was not available pre-pandemic—talent that may be open to entertaining new opportunities who may not have felt that way two months ago.
Once you’ve determined what you need, don’t wait to start looking. Even in this market, quality talent is still challenging to find and takes time.
3) Use technology. Despite recent efforts to ease up mandated stay-in-place orders, most indicators point to the continued need to socially distance for the months and perhaps year ahead.
With new-found experience managing a remote workforce, many companies now have the tools and mindset to be able to identify, hire and manage remote employees. With geography being less important than before COVID-19, your pool of potential candidates exponentially increases.
Now is the time to start embracing video interviewing. Many platforms make it easy to meet and manage your employees face-to-face without leaving your home or office. We believe the new normal will find many companies using expanded technology for both video interviewing and managing ongoing performance as a standard practice for some, if not all, of their open positions.
4) Make offers, even if you’re not quite ready. You can lock in A-team players now with the understanding that onboarding may look a little different and may be slightly postponed. Consider offering delayed start dates, sign-on bonuses for delayed starts, and remote work or online training.
Things are uncertain for everyone, so candidates will be understanding of extended onboarding timelines. By getting commitment on both sides of the table, there’s less risk of losing them to another offer.
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