From Survival to Recovery: 5 Tips for Rehiring your Workforce

Meghan Peterson | May 19, 2021

How to hire people - If you leverage existing resources and implement the right tools, you will be well on your way to rebuilding a successful team.

Many companies had no other choice but to furlough or lay off staff at the start of the pandemic just to keep their heads above water. Over 18 million people were furloughed in April of 2020, far surpassing the 1982 record of 2.5 million people.

And since the public health crisis has continued much longer than anticipated, many of those employees have yet to head back to work. But as restrictions are slowly lifted, vaccinations rolled out, and industries begin to ramp up again, we can all celebrate, just a little bit. We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and it is now time for companies to plan towards rehiring a workforce.

So, how do you start to rebuild your employee base? Considering high unemployment levels and the increasing competition for talent, having a plan is key when it comes to ramping up hiring and recruiting – whether for in-person or remote roles. To help you out, we put together 5 tips for you to consider as you start to hire people and rebuild your workforce.

1. Take a safety first approach

The health and safety of your employees should be your top priority. If you plan to go back to operating in person (even partially), you need to create social distancing guidelines and enforcement rules for the workplace.

Be sure to include rules that make the most sense for your physical space and the number of employees you have today (and plan to have in the future). These rules should include things like: mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, daily cleaning procedures, and limits on the number of people allowed in an elevator.

At a minimum, be sure to follow the CDC guidelines and add any other procedures that your business needs in order to keep your employees safe. Prioritizing the welfare of your employees will help you to stand out for new (re)hires, and at the very least, won’t make potential candidates walk away due to a lack of what is now considered an expected workplace priority – physical safety and security.

2. Update your onboarding paperwork

HR professionals need to be sure their onboarding paperwork is in order as they rehire or hire new people. All the forms, from I-9’s to direct deposit information, should be updated for all hires.

And be sure to re-pull background checks. As a lot can change over the course of a year, it is important to cross all of your normal new hire “t’s” and dot the “i’s” as you call back employees that were furloughed or let go in 2020.

Now is also the time to also reassess your compensation packages and overall employee benefits. Are they the right fit for your current team and company or are they in need of updating?  And are you meeting the market need to bring in ideal team players to your organization or are you behind (or maybe even ahead) the curve a bit?

Finally, don’t forget that all new and returning employees must read (and acknowledge that they have read) your employee handbook as part of their new onboarding and orientation process. Be sure that this is one of the “t’s” you’ve crossed on your onboarding checklist.

3. Determine who to hire back (and who is willing to return)

You will naturally want to hire people who had the best track record to support the success of your company. That said, the skills needed to be successful in the roles you’re hiring for today may look different than pre-pandemic.

After all, it’s not very common these days for a sales person to do an “in-person” meeting so if your top rep from 2019 made most of their sales face-to-face, this may not be the right role for them for at least the next 12 months.

Consider the size of your talent pool while making decisions about who and where to hire from. For example, if you are looking to hire people for manufacturing, your talent pipeline may be small so it may be more cost and time effective to rehire former employees.

Not all of your candidates will be the right fit in the current climate. For example, if a retail store associate is only used to processing checkouts for in-store purchases, they will have to be trained on dealing with online orders. You have to decide if this is a skill that they can learn quickly or if you need to look for candidates that already have that skill. You can even consider adding real-world scenarios to your hiring process in order to identify these skills.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you that you can deploy tools like one-way video and live video interviews to help you determine who to hire back during this rebuilding process. These tools will help your hiring team screen through new hires, along with returning employees, and give you greater confidence in your final (re)hiring decisions.

Hint: When you’re not sure about a rehire, use the one-way video interviewing tool to interview your current employees about their experience with that colleague and ask whether they are a fit for the role they are applying for today.

4. Start building your talent pipeline

It is important to consider both rehires and new hires. As many companies have had to restructure, the qualities and skills that you wanted in your top employees a year ago may very well be different than what you are looking for today.

Even if you had employees who were ideal team players, you will have people that do not want to return or cannot return. If this is your reality, like so many companies in the rebuilding phase, you will immediately need to build a new pool of candidates.

In a candidate-driven market, now more than ever, it is important to promote open positions through effective channels and create a brand image that attracts candidates. So be sure to provide accurate job descriptions that clearly communicate why candidates should be excited to join your team.

For example, if you are a retailer, let candidates know about the flexible hours you offer and showcase other key parts of your culture. After all, in the eye of retail customers, your employees are your brand.

5. Leverage virtual hiring technology

The work needed to hire people and teams is immense. The average time to hire is 30 days, which is much too long given the current shortage in talent in many industries. 

There are tools that can speed up your hiring process and create more efficiency. A video interviewing and interview scheduling platform like interviewstream can increase your hiring efficiency by 20% and reduce time-to-offer by 58%

Using an on demand interviewing platform will mean that more than 80% of your candidates complete their interview in less than 2 business days. And yes, that is a number we pulled from our own platform data, so we know that this is how quickly most candidates respond. 

In a hiring climate where time, money and efficiency are top priorities, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Not to mention, using a hiring tool like interviewstream creates a fair and structured interview process, allowing you to avoid preventable employee turnover associated with hiring the wrong candidates.

Don’t forget to celebrate!

This year has been less than ideal, for everyone. So when you hire people, whether previous or new employees, make it matter. It is a BIG deal, so celebrate the win. Have a virtual happy hour, or if in person, bring in balloons, a cake, a lunch catered in…whatever makes sense (and is safe) for your business. Your employees will appreciate the gesture and it is another way to build a positive employee experience that will hopefully get shared with the world outside of your four still likely “virtual” walls.

As businesses start the restaffing process, and the economy opens up, keep in mind, effective planning is the key to companies being able to ramp back up quickly. Those who are prepared will have the advantage and if you leverage your resources and implement the right tools, you will be well on your way to rebuilding a successful team.

So as you head down the road of rebuilding your workforce, we would love to help you get the top talent in the door simply, quickly and effectively. Click this link and speak to a client success expert about how we can help you rebuild your workforce today!

About The Author

Meghan Peterson is the VP of Revenue at interviewstream. She combines her experience in sales, recruiting, and tech to support customers of all sizes in her role. If you’d like to pick her brain about her advice here or simply start a conversation, feel free to give Meg a shout at


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