You’ve likely had to lay off many members of your staff due to the economic realities we’re experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the needs of your company haven’t gone away even though your ranks may have thinned. How do you meet the requirements to keep your company afloat with fewer team members AND ensure when you’re ready to hire again you do so in the smartest way possible? Here are a few strategies to consider.
1. Find clarity
Clarity is the most powerful tool you have when your business is running lean. You’ve likely cut everything you can feasibly cut. Now is the perfect time to consider what positions are truly needed at your company when life starts to creep back to normal. Go through your standard staff roles and assess your job descriptions. Do they represent the best way for your business to move forward in these times of uncertainty?
As I have described in previous columns, “clarity” is the work you do before you post a job. The process requires you to articulate a business need for the position, set and communicate clear performance expectations, focus on what you need, and understand the return on investment and value of the position. Once you get this clarity, you can leverage it to create a great job description (and ultimately a great job ad) that will help attract the right employee.
2. Bring back workers—the right way
Once you’ve determined what positions within your company still make sense to keep and what roles need to be rejiggered with different responsibilities and job descriptions, turn first to your laid-off workers (at least those who you want to return). Hopefully you’ve already set the stage for quickly hiring back these displaced team members—you communicated and executed the required hard decisions with empathy and understanding.
Even if you aren’t quite ready to fully re-hire everyone, you can use a local staffing firm to payroll the workers as well as to help find more.
It may seem counterintuitive to pay the markup charged by temporary staffing firms when the unemployment rate is high, but this method can save you time and headaches. If someone doesn’t work out, you just need to let your staffing rep know, and they won’t come back; no need to fire them or try to coach them to success if doing so is fruitless.
Using a staffing firm also can help with the soaring amount of resumes you’re going to get with every job posting during this time. So, you may as well benefit from their database and advertising power, and let them spend the time screening the responses. When you add it all up, it’s easy to see why companies go this route.
3. Consider independents
When the time comes to re-add team members, you may automatically think of full-time W2 employees. Obviously, this is valuable and in some positions the only way forward; however, the gig economy is no longer a new thing, and many businesses large and small are seeing the value of working with experts on projects versus hiring employees to do many different but related things.
You’re likely already benefiting from this concept if you have an accountant and a lawyer who aren’t on staff. Perhaps you work with a sales trainer or a marketing firm.
Finding freelancers and experts works well in multiple spaces, including marketing, advertising, writing, graphic design, HR, and other specialty skill areas. You may find that partnering with an experienced virtual assistant suits you better than a full-time administrative professional does—or at least this meets your needs when you’re still recovering financially and want to limit overhead.
You can find these experts by asking your network or searching for people on LinkedIn. I’m a fan of Fiverr.com for simple projects. You can get professional and personal projects handled quickly and affordably, or you can use their vetted pros or business services for more complete solutions. Other people love Guru.com, Upwork.com, and Freelancer.com.