How to Attract and Retain Employees During a Pandemic and Beyond


By James D. Roumeliotis

These days (as the writing of this article) ask employers in any sector as to what is their main pain point and you will most likely be told that staffing is definitely the one. Barely a sign that it is an employer’s market. However, changes in job vacancies will vary much by industry, geography, specific skills, educational level, and other factors. 

Seems that during the Covid-19 period, many open job positions actually pay less than the expanded economic relief unemployment benefits many people receive(d) under the March 2020 CARES Act in the U.S. and CERB financial support in Canada to employed and self-employed Canadians who were directly affected by COVID-19. In fact, an estimated 68% of unemployed workers are collecting more on those programs than they earned while working. That said, there is not much, if any, incentive for such employees to return or gain employment as long as they are receiving such payments. This is a dilemma which many employers are reporting with a lack of applicants and an increase in interview no-shows.

Possible solutions and recruiting strategies to make your business stand out to job seekers during the pandemic, and beyond, should include:

1) Apply a Timely Hiring Process

Consider new methods for interviewing such as virtual interviews like Zoom or Teams, virtual job fairs, along with scheduling technology such as Calendly and text-messaging to make communication with candidates more effortless.

2) Utilize Third-Party Recruiters/Staffing Agencies

Utilize a third-party recruiting/staffing agency, specializing in your domain, to help source employees on a permanent or temporary basis. This is a way to spend less time, resources, and money on the sourcing and hiring process to allow more time focusing on the operations.

3) Offer Hourly Wage Increases or Bonuses

Consider offering a temporary (or permanent) pay increase for roles with essential duties and in high demand and offer a bonus for high demand jobs to attract talent. Although this increases payroll expenses, it may be necessary to attract and retain the right talent.

4)   Offer Flexible Work Hours/Schedules

This may include offering longer days or staggered shifts to allow for an additional day off during the week.

5)   Offer an Opportunity to Work Remotely (with Jobs That Typically Can)

Since the Covid-19 pandemic shook the standard workplace, the physical office ambiance was quickly ─ and at some businesses, reluctantly switched to working remotely. Many employees had to adapt swiftly which they eventually did and now wish to continue with this convenience. Consider either carrying-on, offering the remote home office option or proposing a hybrid whereby some days during the week or month will require a commute to the physical work location.

6)   Emphasize Mid-To-Long-Term Career Growth Opportunities

To help candidates recognize the temporary nature of collecting their economic relief unemployment benefits, highlight the long-term growth opportunities available at your company. Consider including the opportunities with your posted job descriptions.

7)    Ensuring A Good Candidate Experience

Candidate experience isn’t only important for employer reputation, but it is also a factor when your top candidates are evaluating your job offer. The way you treat candidates during the hiring process is a good indication and impression you convey the way a candidate may be treated once hired. positive candidate experiences can enhance an employer brand and reputation and encourage good candidates to join, as well as existing employees in providing you with additional good candidate referrals.

8)   Consider Hiring for Attitude and Training for Skills

Don not solely hire well educated and experienced people. More importantly, seek motivated, dedicated, coachable and candidates with interpersonal skills. Moreover, make certain that the people you hire fit-in with your corporate culture. Your organization should also foster an atmosphere of innovation and creativity through leadership. These conditions can’t help but breed success.

In the end

Some of the above do not apply to every type of job. Though the hiring challenges during a pandemic are a temporary issue, it is frustrating enough when taking into account job seekers who may be earning as much or more money through economic relief benefits. But with the above recruiting strategies in mind, employers should be able to attract more candidates, make the right hires and return promptly to a new and refined “normal” type of business and beyond.

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Filed under 1, hiring, hiring managers, Hiring talent, recruiting

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