Managing Human Capital in a Pandemic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States economy was experiencing an unprecedented expansion.

This expansion led to a fundamental challenge for companies throughout the country: recruiting and retaining workers in a labor shortage. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out over 20.5 million jobs and increased unemployment to 14.7 percent, according to the April jobs report. While this reversal of fortunes for the economy presents its own challenges, the importance of recruiting and retaining the right workers will remain during and after the pandemic.

The High Cost of Hiring

Many companies see recruiting and retention as a Human Resources problem, but the high cost of turnover indicates that companies should place much higher value on recruiting and retention, especially during an economic downturn. According to industry reports, it can take months of effort and thousands of dollars in resources to recruit, interview, hire, onboard, and train one employee. The time and cost involved in hiring only one employee show the impact turnover can have on a company, which is why it is more important than ever to hire the right workers for your company.

Tips for Proactively Managing Your Workforce During the Pandemic

Prioritize Talent Management

Because many companies see recruitment as an HR issue, often managerial employees involved in the hiring process can see recruiting as an annoyance. However, given the high cost of turnover, companies should accept that many managerial employees will spend a large portion of their time on selecting and interviewing potential employees. Mangers will value recruitment if the company values recruitment.

Reduce Turnover with Targeted Recruitment

Understanding the importance of talent management also involves targeting the right people for your company. You can manage this by tailoring job postings to seek people who will fit in with your company’s culture. Think about how you can incorporate your company’s values and culture into your postings. Additionally, placing value on interviews, mentioned above, can lead to hiring the right workers in the first place, rather than hiring a person to fill the position out of necessity even if they are not the best person for the position.

Incentivize Employees to Join Your Company and to Stick Around

Offering lucrative benefits packages may not be at the top of your list during an economic downturn, but pay and benefits are often the reason employees remain loyal to a company. Employees often feel that companies should better understand what benefits employees actually value. Generational differences, among other things, can affect which benefits employees value, so it’s important to have a good understanding of what your particular workforce values. Think also about offering creative non-monetary benefits such as a more flexible working schedule or telecommuting.

Understand How Generational Differences Can Impact Recruitment and Retention

Generational researchers confirm that right now is the first time in history in which five distinct generations have been in the workplace simultaneously. The different generations are motivated by different benefits. While previous generations like the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers place more value on pensions and retirement plans, Generation X and the Millennial Generation seem to value work-life balance, telecommuting, paid time off, and the ability to choose their own path to save for retirement. This difference is important because multiple surveys indicate that Millennials are the least loyal to their employers of any generation. Consider what benefits your employees value and think about offering more flexible benefits packages to employees who value flexibility over set-in-stone retirement plans.

Communication is Key

Communication is a low-cost way to reduce turnover and effectively manage your workforce. Getting the right message to the right people at the right time can be critical to help quell anxiety and instill confidence in your company’s future, especially during an economic downturn. Make sure your employees are informed when it comes to daily business operations, and clearly communicate expectations. Clear communication regarding the state of the company’s business and the company’s expectations for the employee lead to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover. Accomplish clear communication by establishing expectations and communicating the company culture in every interaction with the employee, including onboarding, training, and performance reviews. Communicating expectations, setting goals, and measuring performance based on the same, engender a sense of accomplishment and teamwork in employees. And, employees are less likely to seek opportunity elsewhere if they feel supported and fulfilled.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, companies that prioritize recruiting and retaining human capital will be in the best position to weather the resulting economic downturn and continue expanding.


This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.