This year’s peak season will be anything but “business as usual,” as COVID-19 adds complications to an already stressful time for many industries.
According to a recent consumer survey by Voxware, over half of respondents (57%) plan to ship more gifts directly to recipients than last year, and the vast majority (76%) plan to purchase more than half their half of their gifts online this year.
While much remains uncertain right now, one thing we do know: As consumer buying habits move online, online retailers and distribution centers will have to rethink their strategies for dealing with increased demand and high consumer expectations, while also keeping workers (and customers) safe.
Here’s a look at a few of the trends employers can expect for peak season this year.
Personal safety will be top of mind
Even with more people looking for work these days, the promise of a paycheck may not be enough to incentivize people to take a job that means potentially exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19. Employees need reassurance that employers are doing everything possible to protect them.
This means offering remote and flexible work options where possible and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) where needed and ensuring higher levels of sanitation. But it also means enhancing communication between employees and management to ensure employees’ concerns are being heard and met.
Interviewing and hiring will change
Virtual interviews via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or other video conferencing software have already begun to replace in-person interviews. But it’s not as simple as asking each party to log on. As this SHRM article points out, some states require that if a video interview is recorded, the interviewee will have to provide consent beforehand. When it comes to making a job offer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers guidance for employers.
For example, employers may screen job applicants after making a conditional offer, but must also do the same for all entering employees in the same type of job.
They also have the right to delay the start date of applicants with COVID-19 or its symptoms; withdraw job offers to applicants who have COVID-19 or its symptoms if they need the applicant to start immediately; require employees to work from home; and decline to hire applicants who refuse to work at the company's designated work location.
These are just a few examples of the many regulations employers must adhere to as they adjust their hiring practices.
Onboarding and orientation will look different, but remain essential
Onboarding new hires remotely isn’t ideal or easy; however, having a system in place that ensures incoming staff have the resources, knowledge and support they need to ramp up quickly has never been so important. Much like interviewing, traditional onboarding practices will also have to change, going from in-person, hands on-training to virtual training sessions and digital interactions. The content of these trainings will also have to be re-evaluated to ensure new employees are educated on new safety policies and procedures.
Employers will need to stay ahead of – and quickly adapt to – new rules
To ensure the safety of both employees and anyone they come into contact with on the job, and in keeping with new federal, state and local regulations, employers will need to implement various safety guidelines.
These regulations are changing as we learn more about the virus and its impact, so it is up to employers to ensure they are staying informed and accountable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers regularly updated resources and guidance specific to helping employers stay informed on how to keep workers safe and healthy amid COVID-19.
Having the right partner will be key
The higher unemployment rate means there is a bigger pool of talent to choose from. But too many candidates and new regulations can overwhelm your hiring managers and slow the process down, costing you critical time.
A seasoned staffing partner, such as Staff Management | SMX, can help you make sense of this new recruiting normal, scale your operations accordingly and get the right people in place to meet the challenges of an unprecedented peak season.
Not sure if you are prepared for peak? Download our checklist to evaluate your operation.