It may seem impossible after dealing with the pandemic for so long, but we are finally on the cusp of the world reopening. There’s some variance depending on where you are, your vaccination rates, and other important factors, but the overall trend is that we're certainly inching closer to a post-pandemic world.
And importantly, that means a post-pandemic market.
Already we’re seeing reports of businesses being overwhelmed, significant and widespread customer support issues, and one customer service industry source reported that there was a 42 percent increase in calls logged in customer support centers in the past two months.
All of this has led to a lot of head-scratching as the cause, but it all leads back to one central theme: The world is waking up. Stimulus is hitting the marketplace, individuals are finding more opportunities to make money, and every sign indicates that things are only going to get busier. That’s clear even at the time of writing this, which is mid-March.
Now, the only question left to answer is if you’re ready for markets to get back in full swing again.
At this point, I have to hope that you have some sort of post-pandemic plan in place. But do you have the right people in place to execute that plan? Most indications are that we are very quickly returning to a full-employment state in most industries. A lot of people are still out of work (the service and leisure industries are reporting unemployment in excess of 20 percent), but demand for services is only going up, and it’s reasonable to expect employment opportunities to follow.
Airlines, for instance, have reported a drastic increase in business lately. Their numbers aren’t back to “normal,” but the increase in business may be indicative of what we can expect in other areas that were hard-hit by COVID-19. Hotels are reporting similar trends, particularly in tourist and optional travel areas, which had been particularly damaged by the pandemic.
All of these industries faced significant layoffs in 2020, and now they’ll have to determine how to replenish the ranks and meet the needs of people surging back out onto the job market. And if you’re looking to replenish (or even replace) elements of your staff, then you’re not going to find a better time to do so.
This is a seismic change, and accordingly, an entirely new hiring marketplace is going to change how you make important staffing decisions. Think back to how you handled the brunt of the pandemic. Who did you keep, and who did you let go? Are key positions filled, and do you have the right people in those roles to execute your vision? Your business has almost certainly changed over the course of the past year, and it’s important that you have staff on board who can help meet the new demand from the new, post-pandemic consumers.
Right now, the key is matching resources (specifically people) to the new tasks and change elements that you want to see. And don’t assume that your management team that has hung on through the pandemic is the right fit to make that happen. They may be, but sometimes a change in direction requires new people to drive it.
And that’s important, because this may be your last chance to reorient your business for success after the pandemic. If you want to make the most of it, then your leadership team needs to be carefully aligned with your new goals, and if you’re not there, then right now is the best possible time to upgrade staff and reorganize your leadership team for two important reasons.
First and foremost, a lot of really talented people have sat stagnant for the past year, and a lot of those people are ready for a change. If talented leaders have felt stifled by an organization that didn’t want to adapt to the new normal, then those people are going to be on the job market in a way that they haven’t been for a long time.
This is also a kinder move for your current staff. If you need to part ways with an employee, it’s often more merciful to let them get on with their life instead of waiting for the shoe to drop in a role that doesn’t fit them. With rampant increases in demand, a lot of people are going to be hiring soon, so you’re not going to find a better time to put someone back on the job market.
Doug Phares is the former CEO of the Sandusky News Group. He currently serves as managing director of Silverwind Enterprises, which owns and provides management services to small businesses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.