The pandemic has devastated huge swaths of American business, from retail to restaurants, airlines to advertising. The thought that companies should now begin to implement rehiring strategies might seem wildly counterintuitive. Actually, this is exactly the time to start if you want to maintain a competitive advantage in the talent market.
When we emerge on the other side of the COVID crisis, it will be a company’s hiring brand — not its service or product brand — that matters most. With an unprecedented number of employees furloughed or fired, companies will need to quickly scale up to meet customer demand.
Think about it: Let’s say you’re ready to more or less resume operations on August 1, but you need to hire 100 more people to staff up sufficiently. Figuring three interviews for each person, you’re now bogged down with 600 points of engagement. That’s unfathomable. You won’t be staffed up until the end of the year.
I faced a similar challenge five years ago when my firm was asked to hire more than a hundred medical device engineers for Verb Surgical, the new AI joint venture between Google and Johnson & Johnson, in six months. I knew that traditional executive recruitment techniques, which essentially revolve around cold calling, would not work. There were literally not enough hours in a day.
The answer was to create an in-bound social media platform for hiring. I posted a professionally made video about the job opportunity, and very soon afterward, hundreds of leading engineer candidates were contacting me. The objective — recruiting new talent — remained the same. What changed was how I did it.
Similarly, I have been advising companies during the pandemic not to reinvent the wheel, but to rethink how it rolls. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and rely on precedence as your only guidepost for moving forward. Follow these three steps instead to restart your company’s sputtering engine:
1. Differentiate Between What You Do and How You Do It
One of the most powerful things a business leader can do is focus on what your company does and constantly evaluate how your company does it.
Fast movers in the restaurant business are doing this right now. What they do is serve food, but they’ve quickly pivoted how they do it. They have innovated with call-in orders, new workflows to get food to front doors, social-distancing measures, and digital apps to push awareness of their businesses.
Similarly, proactive neighborhood fitness entrepreneurs have taken their services online. What they do is train people. They used to do that by working at a gym or visiting customers’ homes. Now, the progressive ones have hundreds if not thousands of members around the world taking their virtual classes.
Both of those examples highlight businesses that may never return to a pre-pandemic normal. In all industries, new categories of business will emerge from the current scenario. We may not even be able to imagine those businesses right now, but they’ll be commonplace five years from now. What these new ventures all have in common is the ability to rethink how business is done.
What you do should be very simple to articulate. How you do it should evolve.
2. Assemble Your Partners
Many business owners missed out on the first round of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program because they did not have the ability to fill out the critical paperwork in a timely and accurate fashion. That’s why every business should have a personal financial statement ready to go and updated quarterly. The time to scramble for such information is not when you need it.
You should have a banker, an attorney, and an accounting firm lined up as key partners as you move forward with your business. Manage, nurture, and contribute to those relationships. These are the key relationships that can help you navigate legally or financially turbulent waters — not to mention the tidal wave we’re experiencing now.
3. Implement Foxhole Evaluations
Especially in times like these, you should be evaluating all of your current employees and future hires. A small handful of overachievers with can-do attitudes are usually the ones to lead the masses to safety. These are the proverbial 20 percent who do 80 percent of the work.
Identify the people in your organization who either lead or follow with respect. Those who do not contribute — and perhaps even complain and cause more harm than good — have shown you their true colors. Audit and adjust accordingly.
Winston Churchill once said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” How your business adapts to the future is all in your mind.