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Reality check- Your “ideal company” should not take advantage of the “need” for a job to make unreasonable demands or behave poorly.

Unless you have been in a deep dark cave or deserted island without communication to the outside world (cue- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Cast Away reference)- you’ve heard or seen some news about Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) and it’s impact to human life, industry, health care and our communities worldwide.

As a former corporate supply chain leader, I worked on business continuity plans annually. Of course, we had business continuity activities to discuss disruptions in the supply chain caused by natural disasters – (fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) We even had internal business continuity strategies on political unrest, mass shooters, internet disruption, office contamination, etc. But never did we imagine or could plan for a world-wide pandemic.

I know you get where I’m going with this now- Covid-19 is the stuff that bad horror movies are made of especially for business.

Trust me, I’m not making light of the situation and companies shouldn’t either. People are part of your supply chain whether you recognize it or not.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a good example of how this pandemic will impact the hiring strategies at companies who don’t take heed to protecting or improving their recruitment process. There are just too many missing puzzle pieces at the basic level of needs for candidates.

Physiological- Food, shelter, sleep? (Do you have enough toilet paper? Can you find enough food? Can you pay your rent/mortgage? What day is it anyway?)

Safety- personal security, employment, resources, health? (Masks, sanitizer and gloves, oh my? Furloughs and pay cuts, – if you’re lucky OR lay-offs and unemployment- if you’re not; people are avoiding the doctor’s office and hospitals for routine or even urgent, non-pandemic medical needs)

Many of these basic needs may be scarce for many of us. I personally feel like I’ve entered an episode of Twilight Zone – the Rod Serling’s version and not the modern reboot.

So, what does this have to do with companies and their current hiring practices and/or retaining the workers they have now?

I believe that people will be shifting their priorities and what motivates them. They will be searching for job opportunities that help complete the missing puzzle pieces of their basic human needs of safety, security and staying closer to family and friends.  You can’t believe that you are the “Ideal Company” anymore and that people will make extraordinary sacrifices to work for you.

Companies will still need to work on attracting the best talent even in a higher unemployment environment. Getting top talent for a company cannot become a “post and pray” approach.

Here is a little story about what NOT to do- names changed to protect the guilty:

Joe is a well-liked, high performing expert at ABC Company and has a special skill set that would be hard to replace or redevelop. Lately, he hadn’t felt particularly appreciated for his specialty skills at ABC Company. Joe kept getting more work and hearing phrases like “we all have to do our part” but no one ever said thank you or we appreciate you, etc.

Joe was called by another company and he was curious enough to learn more and talked to the recruiter. He proceeded through the hiring process at the other company and guess what? He got an offer, accepted it and gave his two-week notice to ABC company.

This is what happened when the BIG Boss at ABC Company learned about Joe’s resignation:

The BIG Boss told Joe, “Well I think you should be careful and think before you leave to go to this other company because the first hired are the first fired”. The Big Boss didn’t ask why he wanted to leave or didn’t bother to ask what could they have done to help Joe before it got this far… he just tried to scare him to not leave.

Well, unfortunately the other company had to put Joe’s job on hold due to the Covid-19’s impact to their business. Joe came back to his leadership at ABC company and asked if he could stay. The Big Boss agreed and later was overheard saying “we’ll keep Joe now and he’ll want to stay”. Yes, Joe needs to stay right now, but I doubt Joe will want to stay as soon as the job market opens back up.

So, what can a company do now to stand out and win the ongoing talent retention and talent attraction war?

  • Communicate well and with intention both internally and externally.
  • Be realistic with expectations of current and potential employees.
  • Treat people with respect, understanding and thank them!
  • Keep investing in training, employee resource groups and diversity programs.
  • Streamline hiring and onboarding processes including more video interviews and shortened hiring timelines.
  • Train your hiring managers on proper interview etiquette/expectations.
  • More skip-level leadership/employee engagement sessions (ask the right questions and be ready and honest in answering them).
  • Engage with trusted recruiting partnerships internally and externally to help uphold best practices and the company’s brand reputation strategies.

And, DON’T STOP ACTIVE RECRUITING! Remember, this is a matter of business continuity and protecting your “people” supply chain.

My favorite quote is a suitable one –

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Some sage advice if you want to continue to retain and attract the best talent. Do you want people that NEED to work for your company or do you want people that WANT to work for your company? The choice is yours.

About the writer- Geneva Taylor is President and Managing Director for Tellis Executive Search, a search consulting firm that is a State of Indiana and Nationally Certified Minority-Owned, Women-Owned Business.  For more insights, recruitment resources or career opportunities contact her at geneva@tellissearch.com or follow them on LinkedIN, Facebook, Instagram or go to www.tellissearch.com.

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