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Hiring in a Crisis: What to do, what to avoid

On March 14, 2020, the Department of Labor reported 3,976 unemployment claims for the state of Missouri, on par with the 3.5% unemployment rate reported in the prior month.

Seven days later, those claims jumped to a staggering 42,207 – yet another symptom of the global pandemic that has turned the business world upside down. Regardless of size, sector or location, COVID-19’s impact is becoming more apparent by the day. While many businesses are forced into massive layoffs, some industries are actually facing overwhelming spikes in demand for products and services. As a result, they’re beefing up their workforce with large numbers of new hires, while facing some of the most significant communication, transportation and logistical challenges of our lifetime.

Bringing on large numbers of new employees in a crisis can create its own operational nightmares however. Training, onboarding and key processes are too easily sacrificed to critical production needs. Doing so is just that: A sacrifice. And the results of that sacrifice may have both short- and long-term ramifications for your business.

If your organization is facing a similar challenge, here’s what you should keep in mind for recruiting and onboarding new team members during a crisis like COVID-19:

This may be an opportunity.

For some, especially those in manufacturing, this shift is a chance to fill ongoing workforce gaps created by historically low unemployment rates across the Midwest. Where recruitment was once limited mostly to the chronically unemployable and competition was fierce for those few quality candidates searching for new positions, businesses now have their pick of experienced employees – at least temporarily.

If your business falls into this category, but you’re struggling to find the right candidates, this might help:

Crisis Hiring Checklist

Communication is still king.

Despite the urgency to fill supply demands, now is not the time to abandon onboarding and training protocols. If necessary, triage your onboarding process so that new hires get the most critical training first, and then are put on an amended schedule for everything else. But don’t skip it completely – onboarding well is one of the most important things you can do for your business’s productivity and revenue.

Don’t forget about your current team.

Even more important than recruitment is retaining your existing workforce – especially those quality, experience employees who are difficult to replace. No matter what their position, employees at all levels of your organization are facing increased demands, pressure and stress right now. Make sure they’re getting the support they need to stay productive and committed. A big part of that comes down to internal communication.

Multiple studies show that in a crisis, employees consider their employer one of the most trusted sources of information. So make sure you’re:

  1. Providing your team with timely, accurate updates about how the current situation is affecting your business, and how that in turn may affect them.
  2. Rewarding successes and hard work, whether it’s a simple “thank you”, a team lunch or other recognition.
  3. Creating support systems for employees who may be personally affected by COVID-19, either through illness, loss of a second income, children at home or other challenges.
  4. Clearly communicating expectations and new/changing processes to avoid confusion. This is especially important with a rapidly expanding workforce, but also for current employees when logistics are changing quickly.

For additional communication resources, check out:







Source: https://labor.mo.gov/data