The past 18 months have taken all of us by surprise. None of us knew how vulnerable our companies were — even in one of the most thriving economic seasons we’d ever experienced. None of us could have predicted that we’d have to redefine the workplace and realign expectations we put on performance. Now as we move forward within a new economy that essentially has pushed a massive restart button on all of us, we have to revisit some of the most fundamental components of employment.

Finding Employees

Drive down the road and count the number of “Hiring Bonus” advertisements, banners, and window stickers you see. Pay attention to how many places are displaying “Now Hiring” messages online and at their location. Talk to managers or pay attention to hours of operation. Look online or out your window. It won’t take you long to see that there is a shortage of employees in the workforce right now.

If you are an employer, you have the unique challenge of finding employees in an environment where everybody is looking to do the same thing. And you have to find a way to do it without being overtly desperate. It’s a tough nut to crack.

Keeping Employees

In a competitive market, the quality employees you have begin to recognize their value. They realize rather quickly that they aren’t easily replaceable. While many of them appreciate your situation and therefore appreciate your loyalty to them, there is still the awareness that somewhere out there is a competitor of yours who is seeking to incentivize your employee to make a move (much like you’re trying to incentivize their quality employees to do the same).

Flexibility in your policies and opportunities for creativity in your workplace can help you retain the employees you value so much.

Whether it’s a revised “work-from-home” policy or a different structure to their work agreement, you may find that showing some flexibility and creativity helps you maintain strength in your existing workforce.

Moving Ahead

And of course, the challenge for the next steps is building a sustainable workforce that will stand up to the uncertainty of the next several months. With the potential of more lockdowns and limited opportunities for commerce still on the horizon, your leadership team has to determine where there is flexibility for the future. What you once would have considered a “must” may need to be a negotiable. What was once considered out of the question may need to become a possibility.

As you continue through the bizarre, unpredictable world of hiring in this economy, you’ll undoubtedly discover different companies doing unconventional things. Navigating the coming days, weeks, months, and years of your company’s workforce recruitment and retention is about much more than having a great place to work. What works today may not work tomorrow. So stay flexible, always learning and adapting to the environment we’re in.

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