Scrabble tiles spell SUPPORT.

Coping with COVID-19: Immediate Actions For Idaho Employers

For a long time, COVID-19 felt like the boogeyman. It was always serious, but it was lurking about in other countries and cities. It just didn’t feel like it would directly impact day-to-day life here in Idaho so long as we kept ourselves, our families, and our employees healthy.

After all, 2020 was looking like a great year. In February, the unemployment rate in Idaho was 2.7% and had been one of the lowest in the nation for several years. The labor market felt steady and like it was chugging along, as it had been for the last decade. Then just like that, in a matter of days, it all completely derailed.

Every business in every industry across Idaho has been touched by this crisis in one way or another. We are certainly feeling it here at TalentSpark, and we know we are not alone. Some businesses are operating with adapted hours and offerings. Others have moved operations and staff to fully remote settings. For some, work has never been more chaotic or demanding. And for many, work has disappeared altogether.

Across the state and nation, businesses have had to make the grueling decision to lay off and furlough employees. Since Governor Little declared a state of emergency on March 13, more than 30,000 people have filed for unemployment insurance — a record and heart-breaking statistic that seems to be growing by the day.

There are businesses on the other end of the spectrum, too. There is intense pressure on grocery stores, delivery services, and other essential businesses to keep their operations fully staffed. The urgency to hire for these roles is sky-high and putting enormous demands on HR teams to keep up.

As each day unfolds, we are learning and adjusting to the new market realities. We can’t predict the future, but we can do our best to prepare for it and help Idaho companies do the same. We’re ready and willing to help Idaho’s businesses, people, and communities.

Whether you are reevaluating hiring end-to-end in order to take your process digital, reestablishing your business after layoffs, or somewhere in between, there are things you can do right now to help see your business and your people through to the other side. Here are some immediate actions for employers navigating COVID-19.

For businesses that are continuing to hire: think through moving every part of your hiring process to online platforms.

First thing’s first: take the time to move the full hiring lifecycle to a virtual format.

The whole process. From the initial candidate search, to interviews, to making an offer, to onboarding a new employee. If you can map every single step of the hiring process and find digital solutions for each element (even if it's temporary), you’ll do more than keep your hiring efforts from grinding to a halt. You’ll also be setting up an agile hiring strategy for your company that is needed today and will be incredibly useful in the long run.

Another reason to think through and plan for the move to digital is to avoid potential bottlenecks in hiring. What interview tools can you add as substitutes or enhancements to get a more complete picture of a candidate in the absence of a face to face interview? What can onboarding look like in a 100% online setting? If courts and labs are closed, how can a candidate get a background check or drug screening done? Take time to think through these processes in advance and find solutions before they become bottlenecks to your hiring process.

While hiring fully online isn’t ideal, it’s also not impossible. What’s currently working in your favor is that everyone is in their homes and utilizing digital platforms to connect and get work done. If your hiring has slowed down, use this time to innovate and find digital solutions, so when the market picks back up, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Hiring in this new reality will be a whole lot easier with a plan and a strategy.

For businesses that are experiencing unexpected demand and need to hire ASAP: enlist boots on the ground help.

For those companies hiring for essential worker positions that needed to be filled yesterday: if there ever was a perfect time to outsource your recruiting process, this is it. Many companies in this position don’t even have a minute to take a breath, much less the time needed to review thousands of applications, perform hundreds of phone screenings, and extend offers to ensure their workplaces are properly staffed.

Bringing in boots on the ground help will allow your HR team to function more efficiently and effectively and move the hiring process along. What’s more, it can help cover routine staffing activities so that your HR experts and operational managers can stay focused on the most vital business priorities that are keeping your organization afloat.

For businesses that have or will have to make staff cuts: consider outplacement services to help protect your people and your brand.

Having to lay off or furlough employees is an incredibly hard situation. There is no amount of experience or preparation that can make that decision easier. It may feel like you’ve let your people down, but there are meaningful ways that you can still help them in this difficult time.

For most people, the scariest part of being laid off is the thought of reentering the job market and embarking on a job search. Whether it has only been a couple of months or thirty years, it’s nerve-racking to think about navigating resumes and interviews again. This is where outplacement services are incredibly valuable.

Working with an outplacement service provider allows you to offer employees support, tools and resources that will make the transition to a new job easier. An outplacement service works directly with employees in individual or group settings to give guidance and best practices around the nuanced things that come with entering the job market. This includes working directly with employees to develop strategies and brush up skills like writing resumes and cover letters, job searching techniques, and networking.

While layoffs are inevitable for many businesses right now, one of the best ways to protect your company brand is by offering kindness, empathy, and practical support to help your impacted employees secure future employment. This is what will be remembered for years to come.

For businesses that aren’t sure what to do: think about what’s in your control, then start innovating and planning for the future.

Though much of the future is uncertain, as business owners and leaders, our only certainty right now is that we will have to do something. We really don’t know when life will be back to normal and we can only “wait and see” for so long. It’s time to start focusing on what we can do and find solutions.

We can work together and overcome challenges to continue hiring great people for business-critical jobs. We can use the tools available to us to connect with people, regardless of physical proximity. We can plan and prepare for the new challenges and bottlenecks that social distancing has brought, and we can stay focused on doing what we need to do to keep our businesses, communities, and the local economy afloat. We can look for ways to support people and see each other through to the other side of this pandemic.

We’re thinking of you. If you need assistance with any of the above or if you need an expert from the recruiting world to chat with, know that the team at TalentSpark is here for you. Contact us any time; we’re ready to help!