How an organization responds in a time of crisis defines their worldview and shapes their message of employee value moving forward. At no time is this more evident than now. Talent — contingent and full-time employees — are watching to see how they and their peers are being treated.
The employment industry inherently focuses on the future — finding the candidates who will fill positions in the coming days, weeks and months ahead. Advising clients on forward-thinking strategies. Assessing the influence of current trends on future scenarios is our most valued asset.
Defining moment. Just after I was asked to write this column, immediate, unprecedented factors took hold, shaping our world and testing us in all aspects of our lives to stay strong and think clearly. The uncertainty stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic has grabbed the entire world by the shoulders, giving a powerful shake to demand our attention. If ever history has stamped a time with the immediate urgency of a defining moment, it is this one.
Our attention to the staples of economic activity that provide the bedrock of modern life demands a scrutiny that many will find overwhelming as extraordinary demands are placed on our focus. How a company and its leaders navigate the choppy waters of this global health crisis will, almost certainly, define the work landscape for decades to come.
So, the question becomes, how do we pull back from the immediacy of the day-to-day rush of information to make informed decisions with a view to what comes next?
Predicting future needs. One of the most important things that an executive in our industry can do is to drill down on the basics and artfully apply the lessons of their experience. It may seem futile to think of foundation-building while the tremors of global events are still toppling towers of achievement, but recognizing that demand for “hard to access” skills will skyrocket as hard choices are made regarding workforce composition are first steps in trying to predict the needs of our partner organizations.
The caring approach. Because, really, this is all about caring. And caring about the health of the nation leads us to naturally strategize about which companies will need what skill sets that can help set the course for their future. This raises a number of questions. How do we identify and engage that worker for our clients, and for society? How do we get people back to work in a job that alleviates their fears by providing economic stability for their families? This classic “win-win” allows a business to trust its partner to deliver the right candidate and the candidate gains a career that banishes uncertainty and provides a meaningful outlet for their skillset.
The right fit. Attracting the right candidates to an organization has always been the core of our industry. The business world has expended a tremendous amount of energy in recent years, trying to identify adjustments to their corporate identity that will make them an attractive place for candidates to investigate. Now is a crucial time to isolate the key features of a company that will be attractive to millennials and Gen Z. If an organization wants to survive in the future, these workers are undoubtedly the key, but if an organization truly wants to thrive, they need to find the best, most-skilled workers among those demographics and build a structure that incorporates their ideals and priorities into their basic philosophy.
Amid Covid-19. In the near future, when candidates are considering employment options, they’re going to look back on this time and consider how their prospective employer took into account the health and safety of their employees during the Covid-19 outbreak. These candidates will closely examine the hiring company’s social media history and reviews from their current and impacted employee base on boards like Glassdoor. They will look for clues as to how their potential employer behaved during this tumultuous time.
When they look up your company, will they see evidence of indifference or caring? That answer is up to you in this moment.