With most current news and attention directed to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be difficult to see anything other than cause for concern. However, in any challenging time, there also exists a profound opportunity.
At the start of 2020, many companies had doubled down their efforts to recruit and retain their employees. Many of these plans focused on employee engagement, becoming a destination employer and continuous recruitment of high potential individuals. However, many of those same companies that have since paused recruiting efforts have lost sight of their most valuable asset – their people.
Within the span of a few weeks, we witnessed a low unemployment record of less than 3 percent to over 10 million people filing for unemployment. The $2 trillion CARES act passed to provide relief; however, some employees may still perceive a lack of care from their employer.
While every company needs to make decisions in accordance with their own unique circumstances, there are many companies with strong balance sheets, large backlogs of work and the wherewithal to use the current "stay home, stay safe" mantra as an extension of their employee-focused culture. As Mark Cuban recently stated, "How companies respond to Coronavirus is going to define their brand for decades1." How do you want your company's brand to be defined? What do you want your current employees to remember from these months? Perhaps most importantly, how do you want your company to emerge from these uncertain times?
While these are stressful times, it is important to remember that healthy relationships are often strengthened under stress, making now a great opportunity to improve your retention culture. We have an opportunity to connect with our employees and strengthen those relationships in ways we have not discovered until now. We will all remember this time in history, and we will all remember how our employers treated us during this difficult time, whether good, bad or indifferent.
The opportunity is present to draw in your employees, reinforce your people-first culture and strengthen relationships that will bear fruit long after this virus is gone.
Stand by your people, and they will stand by you2.
Despite the construction industry's growth over the years, many contractors have reacted to the current global health crisis by halting their recruiting process. Such a response is essentially slowing their ability for continued growth. For some, this move is the first logical step that a company must take, but the truth remains that while it may not be convenient in a socially distant model, identifying top talent must still remain a top priority.
While virtual interviews may not be the best way to scout candidates, it remains a viable option, leaving the door open to move forward while still conducting business. When the situation hinders near-term hiring, keeping the recruiting operations moving allows for hiring authorities to comb through more resumes than usual, as well as more time for candidates to scout more prospective employers.
The thought of making no progress on the recruiting front adds to future challenges. Companies that halted recruiting could potentially be placed behind the ball within the industry when the time comes to return to normalcy. When employees return to work to pick up the weeks of delayed efforts and meetings, it may be difficult to simultaneously jumpstart their stalled recruiting efforts. Therefore, construction companies should stay vigilant with recruiting talent during these times – the time to build pipelines, connections and relationships is now.
Remember that economic downturns can present opportunities. Prior recessions have shown that companies can use these challenging times to unite and inspire their employees. These companies emerge more successful as they lean into the value of their employees, who are responsible for providing the greatest worth and relevance. The way employees are treated during a recession will have post-recession implications, so this is a great time to build your brand and highlight your culture.
This also means recruiting efforts should continue. Are you one of the companies that may regret cutting back on the hiring process? Or are you one of those that view this as their chance to pick up some high-quality talent? Top companies capitalize during a downturn as an opportunity to double down and continuously seek out top talent. In addition, companies that adopt a commitment to providing their staff with open and honest communication during times of uncertainty reinforce confidence and loyalty with their current and future team members.
In times of uncertainty, look for the opportunity.
- "Mark Cuban says how companies treat workers during pandemic could define their brand ‘for decades.'" CNBC.com, March 25, 2020.
- Please remember to practice healthy social distancing and stand no closer than six feet apart during this time.