As always, it’s the small guy that shoulders the lion’s share of the burden. Small businesses and franchises are suffering. As the backbone of the American economy, their pain is everyone’s pain. Most businesses had to let staff go because they just couldn’t afford to keep on paying them. The US government says there was an increase of three million unemployment claims in the last week of March. In the meantime, under the new disaster relief legislation, the CARES Act, businesses need to re-hire their people by the end of June or risk losing disaster relief funding. Wages paid to re-hired employees under the PPP loan program will be considered a grant.  

But, here is the deal, all those great employees of yours might be hearing other job offers. Lots of employers will be up and hiring more quickly than others. Some employers will be spending their disaster loan money to pay a little extra to attract better people, especially those with training and experience. Other employers will be throwing health benefits into the mix just to get the right people on the team. After this virus attack, people are going to want affordable health benefits more than ever.     

The Devil You Know 

If you have had to let employees go temporarily or not during coronavirus, you might be wondering if just hiring new people could be a better way to go. It can be said categorically, it is not.  Post-shutdown if you want to get back to business quickly it’s going to take people who know how to do their ‘old’ job. If you only had to train one new person it can take weeks until they are productive. Just imagine having to train an entirely new workforce. Hiring your own people back is better for productivity, significantly cheaper, way less time-consuming, and obviously, the government is encouraging it.   

  1. Onboarding and training of new employees is an expensive time suck. Even if you get lucky and hire the right person the first time. Lots of times you have to kiss a few frogs to find your ‘prince’ of an employee.  Keep in mind the old saying, ‘Work smart, not hard’. Even if your laid-off employee was a ‘work in progress’ it might be worth adding some perks to get them back and pick up the training where you left off.  Remember, the only reason you had to get rid of this person was due to the pandemic. 
  2. Obviously productivity and experience go hand-in-hand. If that’s not the case with one of your laid-off employees perhaps this might present an opportunity to encourage them to consider other offers.  But normally the more somebody performs a job, the better at it they become. This is especially true with salespeople who develop their own style of presenting and closing sales. When new people are just starting out sales are hard to make.  They don’t have an established client base and it takes time to get up to speed on new products or services.  So even if they weren’t perfect, your experienced salesperson has both product knowledge and a CRM full of prospects.  In other words, it might be worth putting a little extra financial incentive in front of your laid-off sales team. They are most likely to have an existing pipeline that can be turned into cash flow the fastest. So unless you were seeing obvious issues with an employee before the shutdown there is no better experience than having done the exact same job. 
  3. Lastly but most importantly is Team Dynamics. It would be impossible;e to overstate the importance of chemistry.  The joy of bringing back your employees and giving everyone back some sense grounding that happens at work with your co-workers. You will have the important knowledge of how they work together as employees, avoiding any potential awkwardness or getting to know your periods with new teams. 

There are, however, exceptions to every rule. If you were having problems with a particular employee now’s the time to cut the cord. Perhaps you did not have sufficient grounds previously or the political price in the office was too high.  Then by all means let this be your opportunity to make a clean break. But don’t be naive, think ahead for any potential backlash from the decision. 


Romancing Your Employees

1. ‘The early bird gets the worm’. Employees are like family, only you spend more time with them.  Stay in touch, let them know as the situation changes.  It says you still care, even if you can’t pay them right now. Based on the message there are a number of channels to consider: An employee Facebook group is good for morale, it can also help maintain the worksite chemistry and sense of connection to co-workers and the company. Video conferencing has emerged as the overall best way to connect to discuss strategy, offer them their jobs back or discuss any individual retention incentives you might have up your sleeve.

To mitigate the costs of re-hiring, you can offer people a contract that starts at the beginning of June. In this way, you avoid CARES penalties. But watch out for that 8-week window that begins 10 days after you accept funds under the PPP Disaster Loan Program.  Because under the law, all wages paid during this window will be considered a grant and won’t need to be repaid. Ever. So use this to your advantage to get employees ‘rebuilding’ the business and getting ready for a ‘snap back’ in activity. The one we are all desperately hoping for.

2. Be prepared and come to the table with a few creative ideas on incentives or concessions you can live with to reward them for staying on your team.  While this does give them a little more influence it will also come with some added loyalty. You’re going to need that to rebuild after this shutdown. 

Remember, you can only go so far with wages because whatever you offer to get them back, you will be responsible for going forward.  You might find flexible hours or work schedules could also be important to them. Maybe they need some immediate cash, like a signing bonus. This only works if you get the PPP money. But beware the ‘bonus’ part of any such incentive ‘might’ not be included in the grant money, it might need to be repaid as debt.

3. Health concerns are a major issue for everyone going forward. Employer-sponsored health insurance costs way too much even with the employees paying part of it.  Insurance deductibles are so high it’s not much of a benefit anymore. But the alarming rate that COVID-19 ripped across our nation will be stuck in the minds of employees forever.  

Giving employees a way to pay for expensive healthcare is priceless. Medical cost-sharing is an exciting new alternative to employer health benefits.  It is both cost-efficient and offers better protection for your employees. Some say it’s even better than health insurance, but that’s for you to decide. Compared to insurance premiums it’s about 50% less with Scoop Health’s medical cost-sharing.

Keeping employees engaged and healthy is going to be vital to re-start your business after the pandemic.  Until now, health benefits used to be optional. But going forward, health benefits could be the big difference in hiring good people, including your laid-off workers. If you would like to find out more, you can get the whole scoop at ScoopHealth.com.

Salary increases are likely to be way too expensive in the current economy. Negotiating better hours or flexible work times may be a way of actually decreasing your salary costs while still retaining your employees or hiring back former employees. 

Attracting The Right People For Growth

Perhaps you are one of the companies who got a boost in business during the pandemic and you need a few more good-hands on deck. Although this seems impossible for some business owners, some essential services are busier than they have ever been. A well-publicized example is Texas-based HEB, a large grocer retailer pledging to hire large numbers of employees during this turbulent time.

Perhaps your company, although probably much smaller than this retail giant, is also experiencing a surge in business, or perhaps you had a key opening to fill before the pandemic. Hiring new recruits in this climate is going to be difficult and has a new set of challenges. 

  1. For the time being, interviews are probably going to be done in a platform like Zoom or Go To Meeting as social distancing will hang on long after the shutdown and travel bans have widely been lifted. Besides, how much can you really tell about a person wearing a mask?
  2. You may even look at shifting more towards a virtual ‘work-from-home’ model as opposed to the traditional worksite. Plenty of businesses including Google and Twitter made the shift to an at-home work model. Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Tumblr and WordPress says he feels that the move to more flexible work hours is long overdue. He feels that this reactionary change will be with us long after the current crisis is over. This may help mitigate some of the losses of the pandemic, as overhead costs such as rent and electricity would shrink. That’s great, unless you are in the commercial real estate business. If Mr. Mullenberg is right, finding home-based talent may be much easier, because there is a global selection of candidates through sites like UpWork and Fivver.
  3. However, the advice of “keeping it in the family” still applies.  Where you can, rehire, and promote internally. Use new unproven people or contractors to fill gaps in your lower-skilled roles and specialized project work. In these turbulent times, sticking to what you know can add some much-needed stability.  

Your Post COVID-19 Employment Strategy

COVID-19 has taken business the world by storm. The heart of the American economy has been placed directly into the eye of the storm by the mandatory shelter in place orders.  While some businesses are managing to adapt to a stay-at-home mode, many remain low on cash and unable to operate. The instant end to all revenue left businesses with no choice but to dismiss staff. The CARE Act promises to give employers some relief but the funding comes at a price. Employees need to be hired back by June 2020 and employed for a minimum 8 weeks from the loan funding or businesses will have to pay the relief money back over 2 years. Re-hiring laid-off employees could be the key to a quick recovery.  As you develop your own post-COVID strategy remember: 

  • You are not the only offer on the market. Your employees now have the opportunity to shop around. Maybe they will find something they prefer rather than the job you’re offering. 
  • Act now and let them know you want them back! The quicker you act, the less opportunity other businesses have to snap up your employees. 
  • If you have open positions, try to promote from within before you look outside. 
  • Be prepared to add some ‘bells and whistles’ to your offer.  Things like good health benefits, might just ‘seal the deal’ in getting your people back. Scoop Health offers an affordable alternative to expensive health insurance. It saves employers up to 50% compared to traditional health insurance premiums. 


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