Leslie Harding

Leslie Harding

  • preparing a document

Around the world, the shocking effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn are being felt by all. As of the end of May 2020, the unemployment rate is estimated to be as high as 20% in the United States. It will take many years for the economy to fully recover, but some states are starting to slowly reopen businesses, with new safety measures in place. 

As more businesses reopen they may be looking to hire for many reasons. Maybe they need more staff to implement safe cleaning procedures. Maybe there is pent up demand for their product and they are seeing an increase in business. Maybe some workers aren’t able to come back to work and they need to find others to take their place. Whatever the reason, business owners and human resources professionals need to be ready to meet the demand for new workers by sourcing and hiring the best talent. But there may be new challenges to consider in a post COVID-19 world.

Challenge 1: An increased number of applicants means increased administrative burden.

Before COVID-19, we were experiencing record low unemployment in the U.S. While that was a great thing for workers and for the economy, it did present the issue that it was difficult to find qualified workers for open roles, as most workers had jobs already. 

Now that we are experiencing record high unemployment, it may seem at first glance that it will be easy for companies to find workers as there will be a glut of talent looking for new roles. However, there are some downsides to consider. One is the heavy burden a large amount of applicants can take on an administrative team. It takes time and money to sift through job applications, and a sharp increase in the number of applicants could mean a big cost to hiring managers. 

Another thing to consider is finding the right worker for the right job. Many applicants will have been out of work for months, and they may be extremely motivated to find a job, even if it isn’t exactly what they want. While this motivation can be a good thing, it is important to consider if a candidate really will be qualified and stick with the job long-term. Turnover is costly, even more so when it occurs in the first few months of work. If a candidate accepts a job they are overqualified for or they don’t necessarily enjoy, that can negatively impact their tenure down the road.

Solution: Know what you want and keep your eye on the prize.

Now is the time to be especially cautious to find a great fit for both you and your new workers so that they enjoy their new role and want to continue working for you in the future. Determine exactly what qualifications you want for your roles. Be specific about education, certifications, and years of experience, so you can narrow down candidates to those with the right experience. 

It may be tempting to hire a candidate that is overqualified for a role simply because they applied, but it pays to be cautious. Discuss exactly what the role will be like with the applicant and make sure that their interests and desires align with what you need. Open communication now will prevent misaligned expectations in the future. 

Challenge 2: With an uncertain future, you don’t know if you can hire the new workers you need.

You are looking at curbside orders piling up, customers waiting outside, and workers scrambling in your warehouse. You know you need more help, but you’re nervous for what the future may hold. What if there are more restrictions in the future? What if business drops off because of the down economy? It may feel like it’s better to do nothing than risk overhiring or hiring the wrong roles. 

Solution: Create hiring plans for all possibilities.

Now is the time to create plans for multiple futures, then do your best to execute in a way that feels right for your business. Make a plan for business to grow slowly if consumer confidence builds slowly. Make a plan for business to increase quickly if consumer confidence grows quickly and state regulations ease. Make a plan in case your business gets shut down again, going all online or curbside only. Then take a look at early indicators in your area and execute. Nobody has a crystal ball, but knowing that you have plans for multiple scenarios and are acting with foresight will give you confidence to move forward.

Challenge 3: In-person processes and paperwork aren’t possible right now.

So you’re ready to bring on some new workers to the team. But you realize you usually have new hires come in as a big group, get cozy in the break room, and fill out paperwork altogether. Then you even have some go on to do training all day in-person, then out on the floor. You know this just isn’t feasible with new safety procedures in place, but you’re not sure how to get everything done to successfully hire and train new team members.

Solution: Automate your company’s hiring and onboarding processes.

Automating your processes gives you back valuable time. In the back office, you may already have some tools that make your life easier, like invoice management software or online timecards. Now is the time to expand your repertoire and invest in some tools to make hiring and onboarding go smoothly as well. 

For temporary workers, you can use a service like Wonolo to streamline the process of bringing on new people end-to-end. For all types of workers, it is essential to get set up with a service that can allow you to gather e-signatures for onboarding documents and store these electronically. That way you can avoid having to get paperwork signed in person, plus you can coordinate the hiring and onboarding steps with other team members or a hiring committee. 

Automation allows you to get your time back for more strategic, high-level tasks that take your expertise and problem-solving skills. With the time you have free from doing repetitive tasks and paperwork, you can work on new innovations and developments for your team, which is a win-win for everyone.