The HR director called me into her office. Her face ashen, I could tell she was still reeling from what had happened; we all were.
Just two weeks earlier, the September 11 attacks had occurred, killing over 3,000 people. Our country was in turmoil and the tech economy hit the skids. The dot.com bubble had already peaked the year before, and now the death knell was here. Over 200 strong and growing in 2000 as a recruiting technology startup, we had already had a hefty round of layoffs during that summer of 2001.
We had to lay everyone off. Only those willing to work for 100% commission could stay to try and keep the heart beating. She told me I had to lay off my marketing team and then either choose to stay on for commission only or be laid off myself. I chose the latter. She handed me a small stack of envelopes and asked me to help meet with others outside my team as well. I agreed. Everyone knew what was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to let people go.
Today’s coronavirus (COVID-19) health care crisis is way too much, way too fast for way too many of us. Already over 5,100 have died in the U.S. and nearly 50,000 have died worldwide. Over 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment. (And in one day this article will be outdated.) Listening to many HR and recruiting leaders from companies in our CandE community that are the hardest hit is difficult to because there’s an evident feeling of despair and being overwhelmed. CareerXroads is also running a weekly COVID-19 round-up discussion that anyone can join.
Our last “coronavirus at work” survey from last week revealed that:
- 39% of companies said hiring has been impacted moderately; 38% say severely – but again, we know what a difference a day makes, much less a full week.
- 55% said they were still hiring; 45% said they’ve frozen hiring.
- For companies that are still hiring, 75% are scheduling more virtual interviews, an increase of 92% from March 2 to March 25.
- Industries that are still hiring include health care, technology, services, finance & insurance and fortunately many others.
We’ll run another “coronavirus at work” survey soon, but in the meantime, here are a few recommendations we’re hearing from our CandE community:
Be a mentor and a helper. Right now your colleagues and peers and maybe even you are being laid off. Small businesses everywhere are closing for good. Make yourself available to listen to those being impacted. Offer guidance and your network. Make recommendations on how best someone’s experience and skills can be leveraged elsewhere. Donate your time, money and even food to those in need if you can.
Laid off or furloughed. Being laid off is painfully clear. If you’re furloughing employees with the intention of covering health care benefits for an indefinite amount of time, and with the intention of hiring them back at some point, then you really need to be crystal clear about what that means and why the ambiguity of this health care crisis may obscure any relevant clarity. Be realistic with expectation setting but set them.
Put a coronavirus statement on your career site. Do you even have a coronavirus (COVID-19) message on your career site highlighting the state of your current recruiting and hiring for candidates? If not, you should, whether you are hiring or not. Now is not the time to be silent, because how you treat your candidates and employees now will define your business and brand beyond this pandemic. Here’s an example from Deluxe that states:
The health and safety of our employees and candidates is very important to us. Due to the current situation related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re leveraging our digital capabilities to ensure we can continue to recruit top talent at Deluxe Corporation.
Should your application progress, you may be asked to use one of our digital tools to help you through your recruitment journey. Our Talent Acquisition team will provide assistance on how to use our technology for video-interviewing.
Create a candidate and employee communications plan. One of our partners exaqueo has a great communications resources that you can check out here. Now is the time to be more transparent than ever, which isn’t easy for most companies without a global pandemic to deal with. Creating and executing an up-to-date communications plan in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) for candidates employees including your recruiting team and hiring managers today will define your business and brand in the months and years to come.
Keep measuring candidate and employee experience. However you’re addressing this health care crisis with your candidates and employees, continuing to deliver a positive candidate and new hire experience, while preserving your employer brand, will be critical in the months and years to come. The feedback you receive will be valuable in evaluating opportunities for improvement as well as benchmarking with other employers, like the CandE Benchmark Research Program, today and in the future.
Create a public marketing and communications plan. How’s your business responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)? You should definitely have a public-facing communications strategy, one that will ensure transparency on whether or not you’re still hiring and if you’re still in business (and fighting to stay in business) and how you’re conducting business. Here’s an email example from CVS Health I received just this week:
Work with your solutions and service providers. We’re all in this together, and many of you are in current contractual relationships with solutions and service providers. Many of them are eager to help you in these dire times. Meet with them to discuss how to maximize the agreement where your greatest needs are, even renegotiate the contracts if necessary. Unless your business has completely ground to a halt, let’s keep moving forward and doing business with each other as much as we can.
As I’ve mentioned before, many HR and recruiting leaders and their teams in our CandE community and beyond are doing what they can to mitigate this crisis, with empathy, transparency and positive communication and action. We thank you all!
For those organizations still hiring, we’ll keep spreading the word. That includes CVS Health, Walmart, Amazon, Kimberly-Clark, Sharp Healthcare, Safeway, Home Chef, Guardant Health, Trinity Health, most healthcare providers, and many others.
Like many others in our space, we continue to compile coronavirus resources and recommendations for organizations big and small across industries from a variety of caring sources, and you can find those here.
One more point to bring up: are you developing a post-coronavirus (COVID-19) recruiting and hiring business plan? Despite not knowing what will happen next it can and should be done. Companies big and small across industries have to sketch out what the post-coronavirus world looks for their recruiting and hiring, because at some point we’ll get past this, just as we’ve done many times in our past. Will you be able to ramp again quickly and get millions of people and businesses back to work and be competitive? Start planning for that now.
Bless you all. Be safe, keep helping each other and keep moving forward.
Kevin Grossman, President, Talent Board
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