Our future beyond COVID depends on our ability to see beyond what is currently happening, and put the pillars in place to make that happen.

With the hospitality industry being one of the hardest-hit sectors from COVID-19, many workers are switching jobs or changing careers entirely. Restaurants are changing the way they approach foodservice by acknowledging consumer health concerns and avoiding unnecessary contact. These changes have led companies like Chipotle to adapt their original restaurant experiences and gear up for a huge wave of hiring. At the same time, many companies are cutting the size of their HR teams, leaving HR professionals with more responsibilities and limited resources. To keep furloughed employees engaged and maintain the candidate experience will require companies to find solutions that automate processes and ease the burden for HR teams.

Prep for what’s next now

This pandemic has dramatically pushed restaurants to adapt the way that they service customers, but rarely has that same attention been given to internal HR processes and technology. While hiring is stalled, now is the time to revisit your current HR tech stack. Identify ways to use tech to optimize and support the makeup of your current team, with an eye on the future of what their world may look like. Ask them what their current challenges are, and ideate with them on solutions for various future states. If there are concerns about team size related to tasks—find technologies that help automate tasks that don’t require the human touch. If they need more data to make better decisions—get your data in order, making sure to vary sources and so your HR team can learn over time. If there are concerns over the candidate experience—fix the broken parts so you can make sure you don’t lose out on quality candidates in the future. If the team has concerns about prioritizing candidates—find ways to assess and prioritize those candidates who will have the biggest impact on the business while engaging candidates more deeply.

Our future beyond COVID depends on our ability to see beyond what is currently happening, and put the pillars in place to make that happen. Many times the C-suite sees HR as a cost center, so it is imperative that HR leaders demonstrate how important right fit employees impact the business. Maximize the time you have and make investments that will pay off and accelerate recovery for your business, employees, and customers.

Engaging with furloughed employees

At the start of the pandemic, Google searches for, “What does furlough mean?” were up more than 5,000 percent, demonstrating that many Americans were not familiar with the full consequences of a temporary layoff before the pandemic. This lack of understanding means that while furloughed employees aren’t working, a business should clearly and consistently communicate with them. The intent is that furloughed employees will eventually be brought back, so it’s important to acknowledge the challenges they are facing and keep them in the loop with company news.

Before reaching out to furloughed employees, make sure you are sharing content tailored or personalized to their specific needs. In addition to providing furloughed employees updates on company initiatives and announcements, provide them resources on personal and professional wellbeing. Consider incorporating insights derived from your personnel files or a personality assessment to help these communications resonate more deeply with furloughed employees. For example, if an employee is lower on the openness scale, they will value process and love to structure days around a predictable routine. In this instance, you might consider focusing communications around the process of reopening, what remains the same, and what employees can expect to change along each stage.

Beyond content, think of ways that you can make your communication with furloughed employees unique to your brand. Recently, I was part of a panel discussing how companies can focus on hourly workers and  furloughed employees was a hot topic. One representative from Bartaco discussed how the chain is providing its furloughed employees with free meals each week. This not only shows Bartaco’s commitment and care for its employees but also provides a touchpoint with the employee on a weekly basis.

Prioritizing the wave of candidates

Moving into 2021, HR teams will be busy bringing back furloughed employees while also dealing with the wave of applicants looking for work. HR teams’ first order of business is to prioritize which employees to re/hire. When rehiring, first in last out doesn’t always make sense. In the hospitality industry, customer experience is key, so assess what types of traits are beneficial for you to deliver on the ideal customers experience.

With some furloughed employees giving up hope on their employer, many are in search of their next role. For businesses, this means an influx of candidates like they’ve never seen before. Recently, one of our customers in Australia received 145,000 applications in 48 hours. For even a well-staffed HR team, this is more than a significant undertaking.

Hiring is a long, arduous endeavor. This is largely due to various inefficiencies throughout the hiring process. Consider the job interview. Ben Dattner, an executive coach and organizational development consultant, wrote in the Harvard Business Review, that “only one in five interviews increases the baseline that a hired candidate will be successful.” This leaves companies looking for the same role over and over again. Rather than fall into the vicious cycle of work that ultimately, decreases efficiency, consider how to automate processes.

One way to automate is find functions that help sort and filter candidates. These tools, like high-funnel personality assessments, save time without sacrificing the integrity or quality of the process. For example, if you’re looking for high-energy servers at your restaurant, it doesn’t make sense to start interviews with job seekers whose personalities are poorly aligned. Taking personality factors into account is beneficial for everyone because it avoids mismatches, removing unnecessary challenges for managers and workers in the future. Personality assessments can also open the doors for employees who might be better fits in positions they didn’t apply for or know about. Without leveraging a personality assessment, you might have missed out on the employee all together or put the employee in a position not best suited for their personality.

For HR teams, the responsibilities of the job continue to increase. Manual and outdated processes no longer meet the needs of HR teams. To effectively communicate with furloughed employees and handle the wave of candidates, teams need to automate processes. Utilizing a personality assessment can help increase efficiency, decrease turnover, and lead to happier employees. Instead of fearing the wave of applicants, use this time to make necessary adjustments, basing decisions on science. In doing so, you’ll come out of the pandemic with the best employees for your company.

Dan Sines is Traitify’s CEO, co-founder, and Chairman of the Board. An entrepreneur to the core, Dan has an extensive background in user experience and graphic design. Having managed design firms and previously started a social media marketing & production firm with Josh Spears.

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