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17 Strategies to Boost Attraction, Retention, and Motivation During COVID-19

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How organizations and employees respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic will be a defining moment for all of us.  Many organizations are experiencing sudden economic fallout as social distancing mandates take effect.  Others with a direct role in fighting COVID-19 have found that they need to stretch themselves in new ways to meet unprecedented demands.  In this time of uncertainty, what can organizations do to ensure they are attracting, retaining, and motivating the employees they need to not only survive – but to thrive during recovery?  

Attraction Strategies

1. Speed Up Hiring Process

Consider new methods for interviewing such as virtual interviews, virtual job fairs, and tech-enabled job tryouts Leverage technology like Zoom, Calendly, or text-messaging to ease communication with candidates.

Share this article with candidates to help them prepare for a video interview.

    Potential Impact
    • Access to candidates more quickly, enabling hiring decisions to be made faster.
    • Speed increases the  risk of hiring the wrong candidates for the job and organization.

    2. Use Creative Job Titles

    Consider creative job titles that inspire and showcase impact/purpose – for example instead of HR Generalist, why not “HR Power Ranger”?

      Potential Impact
      • Allows culture to shine and boosts employee pride, while minimizing expenses.
      • Be sure to put some job title controls in place to manage internal equity.

      3. Offer Sign-on Bonuses

      Provide a bonus for high demand jobs to attract talent.

        Potential Impact
        • Increases expense, but may be necessary if talent is in high demand.

        4. Utilize Third-Party Recruiters/Staffing Agencies

        Engage a third-party recruiting/staffing agency, such as QTI, to help source and/or hire high-demand jobs on a permanent or temporary basis.

        Spend less time, resources, and money on sourcing, screening, interviewing, and hiring procedures to allow more time for other necessary activities.

          Potential Impact
          • Enables you to move faster and with better hiring quality.
          • Hire on a temporary or needs basis (e.g., week-to-week or day-to-day) to keep costs down.

          5. Temporarily Increase Base Pay for High Demand Service Roles

          Consider offering a temporary base pay increase for those roles that are performing essential duties and in high demand.

            Potential Impact
            • Increases expenses; however, may be less expensive than losing these employees.
            • Be sure to fairly determine which jobs get increases and to communicate that these are temporary increases.
            • May decrease morale for employees not receiving temporary increase.

            6. Connect with Businesses that have Laid Off/Furloughed Employees

            Partner with other local businesses to find permanent or temporary employment for laid off/furloughed employees.

              Potential Impact
              • Partnership benefits one organization by easily finding talent and benefits the other by helping reduce unemployment insurance claims.

              Retention Strategies

              7. Offer Flexible Work Hours/Schedules

              Consider offering staggered shifts or longer days to allow for an additional day off during the week.

                Potential Impact
                • Promotes employee retention.
                • Enables essential business operations to continue.
                • May require more management intervention to ensure all assignments/work is being covered.

                8. Offer Opportunity to Work Remotely for Jobs That Typically Can't Do So

                Consider back-burner projects or new organizational initiatives that would allow employees to work remotely, when the typical nature of the job wouldn’t

                For example, can a maintenance technician help research latest trends in machinery and tools to increase efficiencies/impact post-recovery?

                  Potential Impact
                  • Retains employees who will be important during economic recovery, while still bettering the organization.
                  • Draft a policy to set expectations and consider tools like 15Five to share those expectations.
                  • Productivity may be lower or higher depending on the organizations' remote work procedures and leadership of remote staff.

                  9. Re-allocate Employees and/or Responsibilities to Balance Workload

                  Assess essential duties for business operations and consider reallocating across other employees/jobs.

                  Assess transferrable skills from employees performing nonessential work to assist in high demand work areas.

                  Add back-burner projects to the mix of duties if any employee needs more work.

                    Potential Impact
                    • Mitigates the risk of employee burn out by having many share in the workload.
                    • Continuance of essential business operations.

                    10. Temporarily Waive or Relax Attendance Policies

                    Consider temporarily relaxing attendance occurrence policies, relieving employees who may need to be tardy or absent for situations beyond their control.

                      Potential Impact
                      • Supports employees who may be struggling to balance work and family needs.
                      • May reduce the number of employee dismissals due to attendance resulting in less hiring.
                      • Employees may abuse the relaxed policy.

                      11. Develop Paid Time Off Donation Policy

                      Develop a policy which would enable employees to donate their earned paid time off hours/days to employees in need.

                        Potential Impact
                        • Employee PTO is not equal for all employees due to variances in pay, which impacts accruals and payouts.
                        • Involve financial and legal counsel before making changes to leave policies.

                        12. Offer Opportunity for Negative Balances in Sick/PTO Banks

                        Consider temporarily allowing current paid time off or sick leave policies to sustain negative balances during this time.

                          Potential Impact
                          • Ensure that current procedures and/or HRIS can track this change. 
                          • Runs the risk of paying negative PTO or sick leave balances that the organization cannot recoup if the employee terminates.

                          Motivation Strategies

                          13. Temporarily Offer Premium Pay/Bonus for Extended Working Hours or Hazardous Conditions

                          Consider offering premium pay for employees working extra or critical shifts or for those who are at greater risk of COVID-19 exposure.

                          Some options could include a per hour dollar amount, a flat dollar amount per shift or an overall bonus amount, varying for full-time and part-time employees.

                            Potential Impact
                            • Provides recognition for employees that are necessary for continued business operations during this stressful time.
                            • Increases expense and may be administratively burdensome.

                            14. Provide Small Denomination Spot Bonuses for Extraordinary Work

                            Consider offering spot bonuses/gift cards for employees who have shown extraordinary work, effort, and/or are going above and beyond.

                              Potential Impact
                              • Shows appreciation for work done above expectations, which increases employee motivation.
                              • Ensure clear communication as to why the spot bonus was awarded and how it was determined to promote fairness and reduce entitlement risk.

                              15. Re-train or Cross-train Employees

                              Train staff for new roles and/or responsibilities.

                              Consider free online training (e.g., LinkedIn, Cousera) that might be available now for employees to learn new skills that could help with current and future business operations.

                                Potential Impact
                                • Develops employees to find greater meaning and impact in their ability to support the organization, which increases motivation.
                                • Enables essential business operations to continue.

                                16. Recognize Employees

                                Recognize the wins for employees on a more frequent basis given the need now is higher than ever.

                                Consider peer-to-peer recognition (e.g., point programs, virtual high-fives, etc.) in addition to awards and top-down recognition

                                Continue to recognize birthdays and work anniversaries through virtual celebrations.

                                  Potential Impact
                                  • Helps to decrease loneliness and isolation.
                                  • Keeps employees engaged and motivated.
                                  • Results in higher productivity.

                                  17. Engage Team in Improving Business Operations

                                  Consider brainstorming with and/or empowering team to identify cost saving or revenue generation opportunities.

                                  Consider an incentive for employees in generating these ideas to save money, for example for every $1,000 identified as savings, pay a one-time 5% incentive payment for cost savings.

                                    Potential Impact
                                    • Gives employees greater purpose and connection with others, which increases employee morale.
                                    • Requires time and potential investment to investigate and consider worthwhile ideas.

                                    Now more than ever, employers need to thoughtfully consider talent management strategies to optimize outcomes for all.  As we come together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, please contact us  if we can help your business with its talent strategies or any other HR needs.

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