- Effectively managing the short-term effects of financial downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic can give companies more options when it comes to controlling long-term outcomes, Mercer said in an email to HR Dive April 20. Employers that lead with economics and empathy — by preserving jobs, for example — will be rewarded with loyalty from candidates, workers and customers, according to the human resources consulting firm.
- Reducing compensation and benefit costs are often the biggest portion of operating expenses, Mercer said. But before taking those steps, which have long-term effects, companies should consider taking the following actions: preserving flexibility by conserving cash and delaying increases and grants; evaluating potential compensation and benefit actions to take later to improve cash flow; and strengthening safety nets.
- Employers can also make efforts to preserve jobs by "identifying ways to redeploy employees within your company or even to other companies with substantial needs," Mercer said. The actions employers take "over the next few months, especially the longer-term strategies put in place, could determine how they fare over the next 12-18 months," Edith Clee, partner at Mercer, said in a statement.
Keeping people employed will require creativity and adaptation, according to Mercer.
A small group of chief human resource officers at Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow and Verizon came up with a creative initiative in response to rising unemployment in the U.S. Together they created People + Work Connect, a free platform connecting employers laying off or furloughing people with those in urgent need of workers, Accenture, which powers the tool, announced April 14. The platform allows companies to share the skills of their laid-off or furloughed workforces with others seeking workers and pools non-confidential and aggregated workforce information by categories.
"People remember who shows up during those tough times to help them through," Lisa M. Buckingham, executive vice president and chief people, place and brand officer for Lincoln Financial Group, said in a statement. "A small group of CHROs came together because we share a passion for making sure that we — and the companies we represent — are remembered for addressing this tough moment with compassion."
Redeploying workers within companies is another method to keep people employed, but it will require upskilling, experts said. "The future of work demands a near constant cycle of upskilling and reskilling to keep employee knowledge and capabilities current and organizations competitive," Kristen Fyfe-Mills, director of marketing and strategic communications at ATD, told HR Dive in January. And learning and development is moving toward personalized training to meet individual learning styles and needs.