How Do You Replenish a Decimated Workforce?

With unemployment up and the economy facing some serious difficulties, many companies have furloughed or laid off their workforce, if only to protect their assets and hope for a recovery when they can bring those associates back.

In the meantime, one of two things has happened: 1) the furloughed staff have been receiving unemployment for the last few months, or 2) they found work elsewhere. As a result, when employers open back up and begin calling associates back, they’ll find that a significant number of them are not interested in returning to their previous place of employment.

The first group presents an interesting conundrum for many employers, because their former associates may be earning more on unemployment than they were by working. As a result, there may be many people who feel they’re better off being unemployed than going to work. The second group may not be willing to return because they’ve already got a job they can depend on and is giving them what they need right now.

Photo of an empty factory. Companies may have a hard time replenishing a decimated workforce.Even so, as companies open back up, we’re going to have a whole different set of circumstances in that we’ll have more people than we’ll have jobs, at least for a while. For example, airlines, cruise ships, hotels, and restaurants have all downsized as tourism and business travel have dropped off. Qantas Airlines has already said they will cancel all international flights through the middle of 2021, and many countries are banning people from the United States from traveling to their country.

This pattern will continue to repeat in a lot of industries, at least until we can find equilibrium with vaccines and therapeutics. People will be afraid to travel, go to restaurants, or go to work, and that’s all having an impact on our economy.

But once that happens, or once people get tired of staying home, wee’ll see buying, spending, and all these recessed industries begin to rebound. And that’s when manufacturing will rebound as well.

So how can you start hiring back a full staff and make sure you get the best possible employees?

He Who Hesitates is Lost

Employers who want to improve their workforce can actually benefit during this time by being more selective about their hiring. For a relatively short period of time, employers will be spoiled for choices in finding top-notch employees. The best prospective employees will quickly become obvious as hiring ramps up, and you can find some excellent talent if you move quickly.

However, it’s important that you don’t be overly selective or move too slowly. During the last recession in 2008 – 09, it was terribly common for employers to take as long as six months to hire a single employee for a position that had been open for two years, even if they were losing money by not filling it. They would conduct interview after interview after interview, performing personality assessments, trying to find the exact perfect fit, instead of finding people who were not 100% matches on every single skill and training them to fit within their system.

I saw many employers who waited so long to hire new employees that they missed out on some of the best candidates. Those people were quickly snatched up by employers who could make a quick decision, and as a result, their top choice would be unavailable. As would their second choice. And their third. And fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on.

Employers who wanted to be selective and find the perfect employee ended up with someone they weren’t happy with. Some of them even found their only options were people worse than the previous person in that role. In some cases, they never found anyone to fill it in the first place. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of these fickle companies went out of business as a result of their indecisiveness and being overcautiousness.

In the end, if you want to find the best employees available, start with the best employees you furloughed and see what happens. Then, post the open jobs and find the top talent and rebuild your workforce with the best people available.

If you can also begin implementing digital manufacturing options at that time, you can revamp your entire company and hit the ground running.

I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including replenishing their decimated workforce. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Tama66 (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.