If you’ve been following the news, you saw the shocking jobs report from May. In a nutshell, 2.5 million jobs were added, bringing unemployment down to a relative low of 13.3%.
That’s significant because economists predicted we would lose 8 million jobs. So in the end these predictions were off by over 10 million.
It’s good news, but it caught a lot of businesses flat-footed. Many of us were planning for a slower recovery or a longer downturn.
So what now? We’ve put together some thoughts for recruiters, HR leaders and business leaders alike to keep in mind…
Prioritizing Long-Term Talent Needs
Amid all the hysteria, the panic, the uncertainty, it’s awfully easy to lose sight of the big picture. When businesses saw the fastest, deepest economic shock in history, many made a decision that looked reasonable on paper – they let people go. They cut salaries and benefits. In industries like retail and travel, this was unavoidable. But in some instances, this only did more damage in the long-term.
They acted fast to cushion the hit on their bottom line, and while it may have helped in the short-term, many of these same organizations will now be unable to effectively meet demand. Customers won’t wait for us to recruit back up to capacity. The market won’t wait patiently for us to build a digital platform for our services. Likewise, employees that took a pay cut while their bosses did not will be incredibly resentful – dragging down performance for weeks or months.
The roller-coaster of the first half of 2020 has an important lesson for us. When the recovery kicks in, you need to be ready to spring into growth-mode, not hustling to catch up. That requires having qualified professionals in key positions and fully optimized teams.
Change is the Only Certainty
The massive discrepancy between economists’ predictions and the jobs added underlines just how fluid the market is. This report came just as the dust was settling from the initial COVID panic, and virtually no one expected unemployment to fall.
It emphasizes that business leaders, HR teams and recruiters need to work together to build resilient teams. When no one knows what exactly will happen next, the ability to roll with the punches and move with agility is crucial.
For recruiters, this means having a strong talent pipeline regardless of our current hiring needs. If hiring needs spike next month, a steady pipeline will dramatically reduce time to fill.
For business leaders, the focus should be on diversifying revenue streams and making sure every team member supports our bottom line. Additionally, it’s important to offer our teams a sense of hope and stability while being transparent about the state of the organization.
HR plays a crucial role in all of the above. HR teams can reinforce agility by focusing on reducing turnover, boosting engagement, and doing whatever they can to keep morale up through a stressful, up-and-down year.
Crafting a People Strategy That Supports Your Business Strategy
We all threw out our original plans for 2020 long ago. Any business leader worth their salt has shifted their strategy for 2020 in light of the pandemic and downturn. However, what a lot of business leaders are missing is a people strategy that supports our new goals.
If your organization is prioritizing digital platforms or solutions, then you need a comprehensive strategy for recruiting tech professionals. If you are looking to radically adapt your operations and develop new products fast, you need risk takers in key positions – balanced with risk-averse leaders to avoid unnecessary losses. If you simply need to prioritize your core business while trimming expenses, you need a professional who will patiently and carefully review all the data before deciding where to make cuts.
We spend so much time crafting brilliant business strategies. But our ability to execute rests on whether we have the right people in the right roles. A people strategy is about having carefully designed teams that directly support our organizational goals. Unfortunately, leaders rarely express their business strategy in people terms – it’s time to change that.
This is Not the New Normal
Everyone’s talking about “adapting to the new normal,” but the truth is that we are nowhere close to “normal.” Like it or not, the reality is that we’re in for a bumpy ride for the next few months, if not through the rest of 2020 and beyond.
That’s not too say that it will be all doom and gloom. The new job report is a great indicator of the coming recovery – the point is just that savvy leaders know we will probably see more ups and downs before the market stabilizes.
The best leaders know that every problem presents an opportunity. Although nobody asked for a global pandemic, it does provide an excellent opportunity to totally rethink your approach from top to bottom. If you’re looking to improve your recruiting process or improve team performance, we’d be happy to offer a free consultation on how you can make that happen. Click here to schedule a free consultation.