As the economy restarts, how to fully reopen your business and reintegrate your employees’ post-pandemic shutdown is top of mind for many business owners. In this article, we will explore the best practices for shepherding your post-pandemic business into a world with a new normal.
Escape The Hiring Squeeze
Unless you’ve been living as a hermit for the past few months, you’ve probably heard about the widespread hiring squeeze – employers are suffering because they can’t find enough workers. Here are a few tips on how you can compete in a workers’ market.
Despite your assumptions about how the pandemic forced the economy to shed jobs, the reality is that right now is a workers’ market. That’s probably not going to change anytime soon. so shift your mindset, think of yourself as a “suitor” who wants to win over an attractive and popular mate – you need to stand out. Yes, that may sound a little dramatic but that’s the type of mentality you will need to attract the best and brightest workers to your company.
Don’t settle for scrapes.
Just because it’s a workers’ market doesn’t mean you should accept subpar employees. A matter of fact, now more than ever, it’s important that you maintain your high standards and search for the best that you can afford to hire. Even if you need to take on additional debt, it may be beneficial in the long-term to invest in high-quality employees who can grow your business.
Make an offer they can’t refuse.
While the obvious strategy for getting higher quality employees is paying higher salaries, you might also consider offering rare but value perks such as work-from-home opportunities, mentorship with more accomplished peers, access to valuable professional networks, and hard-to-find professional training that your company provides at no cost. Other valuable incentives might include a large amount of vacation time (six weeks or more), three or four day workweeks, free daycare, tuition assistance for private elementary or high schools. You will need to get creative and consider partnering with other organizations to provide valuable perks that can entice discerning workers.
Fix work culture issues.
Do you have a healthy office culture? Even if you do, and especially if you don’t, you must identify issues and fix them so that you’re providing an emotionally and psychologically safe place to work. Consider hiring a consultant to collect and analyze anonymous feedback from your employees so that you can identify workplace cultural problems that you need to fix.
Identify a clear path for advancement.
Many companies are unable to attract and keep high-quality employees, especially in a tight labor market, because there is no clear path for advancement. The most productive employees have a plan for their career, and if they can’t see how you fit into the plan in the long-term they won’t join your company or if they do join, they don’t stay.
Allow vaccinated employees to work unmasked.
For many workers in the restaurant industry, working long hours with a mask is uncomfortable. Employers who offer vaccinated workers the opportunity to work without a mask may have an easier time hiring people.
Prying Workers Off Their Couch
Many workers have spent the past year and a half either working from home or receiving workers compensation because their job was impacted by the shutdowns. But now that people have a taste for what it’s like to not come to an office or worksite, they are reluctant to return if they don’t have to. If you want to gain an advantage in this workers’ market, don’t fight this trend. Instead, find innovative ways to honor workers’ current needs while also increasing productivity for your business. For example, you might offer a hybrid work environment where workers have the option to work from home on certain days. You could also offer onsite daycare for workers who can’t find affordable childcare. And consider what jobs can efficiently be done 100% offsite. If you’re worried about worker productivity while working from home, consider creating clear benchmarks so that the employee’s productivity is measured not by how much time they spend on a task but by which tasks they complete. If you’re using that strategy, just be sure to set realistic benchmarks so that employees don’t burn out trying to reach unrealistic goals.
Is Mandatory Vaccination Okay?
Washington State has vaccinated over 70% of its residents but there are still many people who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. Can employers mandate employee vaccination? The answer is yes. A federal court has ruled that employers can require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The only exceptions are for employees who have religious or medical reasons for not getting vaccinated. However, some employers are opting to not require vaccinations since it is difficult to find workers right now.
Staying Healthy, Safe and Profitable
Whether your employees are vaccinated or not, you will need to create health and safety protocols to mitigate the harms of COVID-19. The pandemic is not over, the virus is still out there and mutating. So it’s up to you to continue to implement protocols such as mask wearing, hand washing, sanitation of surfaces, and social distancing when appropriate. Even if you have protocols in place already, it may be wise to adapt them to a world where many people are vaccinated. And if you have a business that is public facing, you might want to assume that every visitor is unvaccinated and possibly infected with the virus unless they prove otherwise. To mitigate the risks that visitors may pose to workers, consider the following:
- ask visitors to confirm if they’ve been vaccinated
- require unvaccinated visitors to wear masks
- keep workers and customers updated on the status of the epidemic by posting flyers reminding them to wash their hands and maintain social distance
- provide incentives (e.g. discounts, free stuff) to vaccinated customers
- continue to provide hand sanitizer and disposable masks to customers.
As you prepare to enter into the next phase of reopening keep in mind that things may change quickly.