The Latest CandE Coronavirus at Work Survey: To Adapt and Build Anew

I’m not sure which one knocked more of the figurative wind out of me – the point that more than $6.5 trillion in household wealth vanished during the first three months of this year, or the fact that we went from the lowest level of unemployment in 50 years to the highest level in close to 90 years, all in the span of two months. All due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). It really felt like being sucker-punched after reading these facts in a recent Washington Post article, both quotes from the Fed and Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

The good news is that balancing lives and livelihoods, however precarious, is transforming daily. There are signs of hiring life, even with coronavirus spiking in certain regions and over 20 million still out of work. It may take years to heal the global economies and reduce the overall unemployment rate significantly, but our latest CandE Coronavirus at Work survey shows that hiring is up 25% since our last survey in April/May (121 companies responded then). That’s increased from 12% to 15% overall (our latest survey had 127 companies respond between May 15 and June 15). Laying off and/or furloughing is down 56% as well, from 35% to 15%.

Redeploying displaced workers has also increased 16% between our above two surveys, going from 32% to 37%. For example, many essential emergency healthcare workers who were hired to deal with surging COVID-19 cases that never happened in certain regions were redeployed to help take temperatures of staff and patients coming into their clinics and hospitals.

However, when it comes to displaying a coronavirus (COVID-19) message on company career sites highlighting the state of their current recruiting and hiring for candidates, only 36% of companies said they’re doing it (see Example 1). That’s only gone up about 3% since our last survey from 35%. It’s definitely a missed opportunity to be transparent and encourage candidates to consider their business and brand, even if they’re not hiring. There’s also been no change in the percentage of companies that have launched an up-to-date communications plan for their candidates and employees in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), but at least that’s 74% of responding employers, a significant majority.

Example 1. Companies with coronavirus (COVID-19) messages on their company career sites

How companies respond today will impact their business and their brand for years to come. About two-thirds of those responding to our latest survey (65%) say they’ve launched a public marketing and communications plan about how they’re responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) impact (see Example 2). That hasn’t really changed from the last survey, but again, those companies keeping their candidates, employees and customers in the know, can and will benefit more from those that have only gone dark and stayed quiet.

Example 2. Companies that communicate publicly

Planning today for tomorrow is critical. Those companies that have outlined a post-coronavirus (COVID-19) recruiting and hiring plans for the next 6-12+ months has increased 17%, going from 18% to 21%. And those that said they were working on it went from 45% to 47%, up 4%. The hard part here, of course, is the fact that organizations have to plan for multiple contingencies going forward, since we really don’t know what will happen in the next 3, 6, 9 or 12+ months.

With the recruiting and hiring planning comes the added responsibility of planning for employees and/or new hires who cannot physically return to the workplace because they, or family members, are at risk to COVID-19. Add to that those employees who refuse to return to the workplace because of safety concerns and/or they’re making more money with unemployment benefits. Plus there are those families, like ours, who have school-age children at home who will still require distance learning once school starts again the fall. Of the companies that responded to our latest survey, 84% said they are planning for the above, up about 6%.

A new question that we asked was whether or not companies are putting safety protocols in place for those employees who will return to the workplace at some point, if they haven’t already. The answer was that 90% said they were. Another new question was whether or not companies were providing more health and wellness resources and benefits for current employees and new hires, and 75% told us there were.

While my own crystal ball is usually cloudy with a chance of who knows what, there have been many great ideas shared as to what the world of work will look like in the near future, some of which we’re already experiencing like more flexible remote work for many different kinds of professional positions (sales, marketing, customer service, tech roles, etc.). That increased dramatically early on in the coronavirus lockdown and will continue into the future for many companies, and based on what I’m hearing, with a minimum only 20%-50% possibly going to back to work in the office. Many tech companies will continue to allow most of their employees to work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Lars Schmidt, a long-time recruiting professional, thought leader and host of the 21st Century HR podcast, created the Reimagining Work Idea Board and collected some very innovative ideas of what’s here and what’s coming. This included mental health and wellness support becoming a core company benefit, something we saw an increase of above. LinkedIn highlighted a few these great ideas, that also included more companies will offer onsite childcare or underwrite childcare expenses, something that has already significantly impacted so many families and employees who will struggle to go back to the office, the store, the plant, etc.

Lastly, to end with a little more good news, the industries that said they were increasing hiring in our latest survey include technology, finance and insurance, health care and others (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Industries increasing hiring

Nearly 30% of those are companies with 500 or fewer employees. And 44% have more than 5,000 employees (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Company sizes increasing hiring

As economies open up once again, there’s a lot of work to do. Rebooting recruiting and hiring continues to be top of mind and scenario planning helps to prioritize what companies do next. Balancing safety, lives and livelihoods will continue to be top priorities. Even in these uncertain times, candidate experience is more important than ever. And since there are many industries and employer still hiring, Talent Board’s 2020 CandE Benchmark Research Program deadline will be extended through September 30. That means there’s still plenty of time to benchmark your candidate experience this year.

Although we keep talking about “post-coronavirus” – and I even reference it in our surveys – the truth is, we’re never going to be beyond it. At least, not in the sense that all will return to the old world. We’re going to have to continuously adapt and build anew. And we already are. Be safe and well.

—Kevin Grossman, President, Talent Board

Join us for our upcoming Rebooting Recruiting and Hiring virtual conference on September 16-17 – two half-days of people, process and technology sessions that will cover the complexities of what’s next and what’s recommended.

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