If there’s one thing we’ve learned during this incredible year, it’s that businesses must be prepared for any contingency. Staffing needs may skyrocket, or plummet, or do both successively within just a few months.
Who would have thought, as recently as this time last year, we’d see statistics like these:
- Online sales were up 76% in June 2020 compared with June 2019
- Amazon’s traffic increased by 28.1% between February and July 2020
- Ecommerce penetration was 20.8% in Q2 2020, up from 14.7% in Q2 2019
- 43.7% of top 500 retailers offered curbside pickup in August 2020, up from 6.9% in December 2019
- In a global survey, 63% of consumers said the way they obtain goods and services was “transformed” by the pandemic
- 83% of consumers expect retailers to provide flexible shipping and fulfillment options
- Before COVID-19, 7% of U.S. employees worked from home; as of June 2020, 64% did
- 67% of IT decision makers expect “expanded or universal work-from-home policies” to last long term or permanently
Although COVID-19 was, we sincerely hope, a once-in-a-lifetime event, some of the changes it caused are here to stay. And it’s not unlikely that the future will bring more shifts in economic trends, employment arrangements and buying habits.
HR teams need a robust, sustainable plan for staffing in these rapidly changing circumstances. Some of the issues clients ask us about most often are discussed below.
Surge in Demand
Online retailers experienced such extreme increases in orders that they couldn’t add staff fast enough for timely fulfillment. Brick-and-mortar stores had to man curbside pickup stations and contactless delivery systems. In-house HR departments were overwhelmed. However, few businesses see increasing permanent staff to cope with one short-term situation as a good solution.
Many new practices for contactless sourcing, interviewing, hiring and onboarding of employees were introduced to mitigate the risks of COVID-19. Having proved to also deliver time and cost efficiencies, these procedures will probably be kept in place after the pandemic. Yet, many businesses don’t have the budget to buy in specialized systems — nor the personnel to implement and guard the security — for remote interviewing, virtual reality office tours and comprehensive applicant tracking.
Many of the factors that contribute to productivity were stressed by COVID-19. Shortcuts taken in candidate assessment and new hire training for the sake of speed, had impacts downstream ranging from burnout, low morale and high attrition rates to costly mistakes and safety incidents.
Talent Gap Reanalysis
The staffing plans businesses made just last year were based on “normal” expectations: anticipated volume and timing of incoming projects, skills needed to complete those projects, market competition and economic trends. But nobody could have predicted 2020; and few even imagined that the plan should include a disaster response.
A New Solution
There’s one simple reason why businesses are coming to us with the concerns discussed above: they’re thinking that an outsourced staffing provider is the answer to all these problems. As a leader in the staffing industry, we give clients cost-effective access to high volume hiring capabilities, best-in-class technology and a deep commitment to promoting the success of the associates we send them.