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  • Brian Hatano

The COVID-19 Productivity Slump: How Businesses Can Recover Faster with a Recruiting Protocol

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With COVID-19 measures in place, I know a lot of people are tempted to take it easy with their work. But I hope more of us will do the opposite. Why? My understanding is that it’s good for mental health to stay active and face challenges, rather than spend time worrying or self-comforting.



I’ve heard we’ve had decreasing economic productivity even though the stock market had been on a record run for the past decade. Being forced into changing work styles, we have the opportunity to experiment with new ways of working and learn skills that can help us in the long run. But this is specifically about recruiting and team-building.


Why is it important to have a plan for recruiting?

(schedule with us for a free COVID-19 Planning Session)


Companies across the globe are going to lose productivity right now. In the Bay Area where I live, companies are required to have everyone work remotely, except for some specific essential functions. Some people may be able to be more productive, but the majority will lose some direct productivity initially and many, if not a majority will not be able to fully do aspects of their jobs, especially if they require advanced labs, shops or production equipment.

As a result, in 1 to 3 months, companies will be coming off what I guess will be a 30% to 80% productivity drop. If this productivity slump hits for a whole quarter, that’s potentially a 20% work productivity drop for the year.

My question for you is this: do you want both this year AND next year to take a financial hit from this virus? It’s possible to recover faster if we focus on two productivity enhancement areas: Cross-Training and Team-Growth.

This article will focus on Growing the Team through recruiting. Wouldn't it be better to come off a productivity slump with a productivity acceleration?



By implementing a clear Recruiting Protocol, your team, division, and company can hit the ground running once we begin to return to normalcy with the following steps:


Step 1. Adapt the Interview Process

Step 2. Prioritize More Aggressively

Step 3. Spread Out Onboarding


Step 1. Adapt the Interview Process

Depending on where you live and work, it may be acceptable to still do some onsite interviews, but for the purposes of this article, I'm going to assume most of us have taken onsite interviews off the table, at least for the time being.

The obvious adaptation is focusing on the remote interview, rather than face-to-face interviews. Instead of just doing 1 to 2 phone screens, assume you will need to interview 100% remote, or save a final handshake meeting for when after things settle. My hope is that this will help managers and team members focus on work skills, rather than gut feelings about candidates, which are notoriously wrong in predicting work performance.


Here's an example of an original interview process and how it can be adapted:



Step 2. Re-Prioritize Hiring

In addition to adapting your interview process, with COVID-19 effects taking us away from business-as-usual, it’s only reasonable to adapt hiring to focus more aggressively on stable priority hiring.

These are questions to help you as a recruiter or manager re-rank your top hires and take all the others off the priority plate.

  • What shifts can you make today to temporarily fill productivity gaps?

  • What roles left unfilled will hurt a return to productivity after COVID-19?

  • Are there positions you would regret starting to recruit for this summer?

  • Who could you potentially hire that would help make productivity and/or business results more resilient?

  • Who would be least productive if starting within the turmoil?

  • What roles are lacking clear definitions or don’t have the necessary consensus?

  • Are there hires that can go on without much hiccup, effort, or risk?



Step 3. Adjust Onboarding

In addition to adapting your recruiting process and re-prioritizing, it’s a good idea to shift onboarding to adjust for any challenges of remote onboarding, team support, work supply logistics, and other factors. Help candidates understand that they may need to accept a flexible start date, and plan it for as long as out as the team is comfortable waiting.

Be sure to speak with each manager or other stakeholders that needs to be involved and think realistically about when onboarding is ideal. While it can be courageous to keep pushing things forward aggressively, it’s careful planning will save a lot of headache.


At the end of the day, it would be the shame for the business to take an even bigger hit from COVID-19 because we took a complete hiatus from recruiting. From one Team-Builder to another, let’s keep pushing!




For further support:

Schedule a free COVID-19 Protocol Planning Session

Look at our Per Role $1500+ Recruiting Service (under construction)

Discuss how Interim Talent Acquisition Support can help you

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