Should You Be Hiring During the Pandemic?

Sep 7, 2020

The first few months of the Pandemic, as things worsened from February into April we saw a lot of companies begin mandating work from home policies, furloughs, lay-offs, and permanent closures. Many industries were impacted by the pandemic with varying results. Some of the hardest hit industries were ” Airlines, Hotels, Restaurants, Movie Theaters, Live Sports, Cruises, Film Production, Automakers, Oil & Gas, Retail, Tech, Conventions, Food Service, Theme Parks, Gyms, Construction, Transportation and more. These were all major industries that saw at least a 10% up to full shut downs. Virtually no sector was safe from the impacts at one point and time. So when should you consider hiring people back?

As we navigate recovery going into month 7 of the Pandemic here in North-America we have seen some companies find ways to recover from or at least mitigate the damages by pivoting and changing the way their services are delivered or departments are run or a shift in personnel and departments. It is still hard to say when would be a good time to start recruiting people back to your business and focus on growth rather than sustaining the business. But despite the circumstances, the focus needs to be on growth.
Not all pivots result in improved business performance. Their are three conditions required in order to maximize your chances at a comeback.

First, the changes must reflect the trends that have come as a result of the Pandemic and what consumers are demanding, such as remote working, shorter supply chains, physical distancing, consumer self-analysis, and further leveraging technology. For example, if social distancing remains in place for the foreseeable future, the video interviewing technology offered by adaptive recruitment firms will be a commonplace tool leveraged by companies for hiring going forward. This reduction in in person interviewing and a greater reliance on assessing people fore hire virtually is well underway and should be a tool in your toolkit. (To learn how we can help you with your video interviewing process CLICK HERE!)

Second, your company must not lose sight of it’s original mission, the adjustments should still be in place to serve your original product and services and help you deliver them in these challenging times. Example, Some restaurants that have in house breweries have shifted to food delivery services like Uber Eats, Door-Dash, and Skip-The-Dishes. Many have leveraged 3 or more delivery services and also brought staff back on as delivery drivers. They have also reduced their menu options based on the availability and cost of certain items due to the disruption to supply-chain. Focusing on the most popular and affordable items. Restaurant Breweries have even adapted their breweries to product hand-sanitizer in place of beer, and becoming an additional resource for people to access sanitizer, a high-demand products. Consumers can order food, beer and sanitizer in one order. These adjustments to reduce costs while still meeting demand give companies the opportunity to achieve some growth and even hire back their people, even if for different functions than in pre-pandemic times.

Thirdly, pivots must offer a sustainable plan to profitability, one that preserves and even increases brand value in the minds of consumers. The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic does not necessarily spell the end of entire industries or companies. It does highlight weaknesses in business models that fail to adapt toward the new normal characterized by shorter supply chains, remote workers, physical distancing, consumer introspection, and increased use of technology.

For example, you may need to reduce the size of certain departments or eliminate them altogether. Others, you may want to allocate more resources. Your marketing department may require more people to help get the message out and deliver your new strategy messaging to the world. You may need to reduce your human resources department and internal recruiting team during the hiring freeze. When recruiting efforts do pick back up, it would be advisable to contract out aspects of the business that may be a little harder to predict, like your hiring efforts. Instead of hiring back your internal recruiting teams, companies have been looking to third-party recruitment firms or external recruiting agencies to assists with their hiring needs. This avoids the cost of salaries, benefits, and having people on salary year round, when hiring may only come in sprints periodically throughout the fiscal year. That way you only pay a recruiter for delivering a hire and simply pause or discontinue the relationship once the hire is made.

So all in all, whether you can begin hiring again will have a lot to do with how well you and your team have strategically managed the pandemic. A reduction in one department may be necessary to make room for budgets for departments that will help increase profitability. Perhaps dissolving certain office spaces in place of remote work will reduce costs as well. Like, the increased hiring of marketing and inside-remote sales people and the dissolving of strategic office space and a reduction in your internal recruiting department or middle management may be a necessary choice to make in order to grow. So your teams may change, but most certainly some will be growing while others may become unnecessary in the new normal.