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A few smart tips for Hiring in the time of Coronavirus

We are in unprecedented times. Should we be hiring? Should we be laying people off? Should we just hunker down and sit it out. But a crisis like this doesn’t need to stop your business.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
A businessman in a suit surfing an ocean wave while storm is coming

It feels like the world has gone mad in less than two months.

Stockpiling of toilet paper, fisticuffs in supermarkets, cancellation of conferences, closures of borders, entire companies working from home, travel plans disrupted, businesses having to close their doors, job losses already starting to happen, billions being wiped off world stock markets, and the cricket, footy and Easter Show now beyond our reach, has left us reeling.

It is the economic impact that has the business community caught like a deer in the headlights. We don’t like unpredictability. We don’t like words like ‘recession’, ‘financial crisis’ and ‘bear market’. They scare us and require us to change the way we think and the decisions we make. Our default position is to batten down the hatches, stop spending and ride out the storm.

What are smart strategies

But while being cautious is a smart approach, a crisis like this doesn’t need to stop your business. Perhaps there’s a silver lining if we look for it. In fact, it may be the opportunity you need to review some things. Take stock, if you like.

And when it comes to hiring decisions, there are some really smart things you can do.

1. Don’t panic!

We’ve ridden out these things before. In fact, sometimes the best time to make bold decisions is when the market is confused and anxious. Breathe in, breathe out… and stay focussed on your business goals.

2. Show compassion and understanding

Understand everyone is anxious. Your teams, your clients, your suppliers. And when people are anxious they sometimes aren’t at their best. Be the person who provides reassurance rather than reproachfulness. Work through this time together. You may see your future leaders emerge.

3. Lead from the front

Our teams are looking to us for calm, considered and consultative leadership right now. We owe it to our people and our businesses to provide it. Make clear decisions, communicate them patiently and support people in their efforts to implement any new processes. People may demonstrate a level of grit and loyalty previously unseen.

4. Look for the opportunities without being an opportunist

Sadly, some businesses will not survive this crisis, despite every effort to prevent such an outcome. While we don’t want to be circling vultures, the reality is there will be highly skilled people in the job market looking for new opportunities. People that may be able to take your business where you want to go when all this settles down. Because it will.

5. Refine your Job Descriptions

A big contributor to poor productivity, workplace disharmony and staff turnover comes from poorly designed or written job descriptions – if both you and your new hire knows exactly what they are meant to be doing from the get-go, then happier and more profitable times lie ahead for everyone. Turn your feelings of being overwhelmed into action that will set you up for a stronger future.

6. Pay people what the job is worth but perhaps ask them to work less hours for a while

Sometimes, when we are anxious, the default hiring decision is to just get someone to do the job at the cheapest possible price. All this usually does is set you up for a problem further down the track. Instead, think about how you can attract the right person, pay them the hourly rate the job is worth but perhaps have them work less hours for a while. Research tells us that part-timers are more productive anyway! Your recruitment partner will be a great sounding board here.

7. Choose your recruitment provider carefully to save money where you can

Even in tough times, hiring still happens. Look for a recruitment firm who will work with you as a business partner and help you steer your way through the fog. A firm who offers flexible pricing, value add-ins and current market advice, so that every hire is the right person in the right job at the right price. A Trusted Adviser rather than a transactional service provider just looking to make the next placement. They will be your biggest ally in getting your team to where it needs to be on the other side of this.

Life still continues

But most of all, keep breathing, turning up and leaning in. Try not to buy into the fear and panic. Like all financial downturns, this too shall pass. And we all want to still be in business when it does.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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