No question, we are
experiencing a significant and unparalleled moment in modern global history. Last week, in something of an unusual but encouraging development, the U.S.
Congress worked together to create
bipartisan legislation that creates an economic life-preserver for workers,
companies, and industries that are in the cross-hairs of financial distress.
We applaud elected officials at the federal, state, and
local levels who are marshalling resources to care for people, activating
executive orders intended to keep people safe and calling for help to weather
this crisis in the American tradition of all-hands-on-deck.
economic indicators pointing in the direction of a significant global recession
in the next few months, workforce issues (e.g., layoffs, staffing, etc.) will
surely multiply quickly.
Labor economists direly
predict that new unemployment claims will continue to jump into the millions
over the next few weeks. With so many states
asking citizens to either shelter in place or stay at home, the service economy
is in deep trouble. Retail outlets, food and beverage establishments, social
clubs, airlines, hotels, and dozens of other business deemed non-essential have
little or no work for their employees.
However, not all companies are experiencing the crisis
in the same manner. One practice we are observing is companies voluntarily
taking on additional cost due to high business demand.
example, Amazon is increasing the overtime rate to 2x the hourly rate of pay.
Peloton Interactive is seeing strong demand for exercise equipment, and is
providing additional compensation for workers who deliver to the customer’s
home or workplace.
manufacturers such as Mondelez International and J.M. Smuckers are offering pay
increases, hazard pay, and special bonuses in order to keep grocery shelves
stocked with life’s necessities. CEO Richard Branson is donating $250 million
to preserve jobs for his furloughed airline and cruise ship employees.
Another rising trend is an all-out appeal for more workers.
Industries such as healthcare, pharmacy services, internet-based commerce,
certain types of manufacturing, and supply chain delivery are seeing business
running at peak levels. Amazon is forecasting the need for 100,000 additional
full and part-time workers. CVS Health has over 50,000 job openings across the
U.S. Home-delivery service Instacart announced it is hiring 300,000 new
Major grocery retailers such as Walmart and Publix have
announced they are hiring laid-off workers during this crisis. Twin Cities
manufacturer 3M ramped up production of n95 face masks, doubling global supply
in just days. A number of regional and national distilleries are now making
hand sanitizer to keep employees working and to provide a valuable commodity in
But make no mistake, many other businesses and
industries are in steep decline, such as the travel industry and automobile
manufacturing. And while we know it may be an instinctive reaction to lay off
workers amidst decrease in demand and volatility in the capital markets, we
strongly encourage business leaders to think strategically about managing your
know many of you are in deep conversations about the impacts of this crisis on
your workforce, and on your bottom line. With those insights, extend your reach
for solutions into your enterprise ecosystem (i.e., contractors, alumni, trusted
partners). Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer at i4cp reminds us that organizations
with this perspective are much better positioned to:
talent in ways that benefit both the organization and the individual.
people who have adjacent skills (i.e., key foundational skills) so they
can provide additional capacity—or substitute for others with key skills
who are unable to go to work.
- Borrow or
leverage talent/capability from other sources.
While some corporate leaders have stated publicly their
need for more workers during this crisis, they acknowledge that employees will
likely return to their chosen careers once the crisis subsides.
Think about your need for qualified workers, whether it
be diminished or not at this moment in time. Manage your needs from the
perspective of a global pool of talent, some in demand, some not, and reach out
to your counter-parts at other companies who may be interested in a temporary
We have heard it said many times: workers did not ask for this. So
until we take the collective precautions necessary to emerge from this global health
and economic crisis, we encourage business leaders around the world to invest
in your workforce, get creative in managing talent, make careful, thoughtful
decisions, and above all, optimize this opportunity to demonstrate an
oft-repeated mantra that employees are your most valued resource.
Mark Englizian is a senior
strategy adviser at i4cp, and a former HR executive who advises CEOs and Boards
of Director on human capital issues.
He also chairs i4cp’s
CHRO Next Board, a group for aspiring HR leaders.”