Recruiting During a Recession

Recruit & Develop | 2 min read | May 26, 2023

- By Steffan Busch, Nexstar Recruiting Coach & Executive Recruiter

All over the news, we’re hearing about inflation. At the same time, we’re hearing about an impending recession and the layoffs that have hit Big Tech and many Fortune 500 companies. Scary stuff, right? And in the trades, we’re still seeing supply chain issues and rising interest rates, all while wages have climbed dramatically over the past two years.

What does all this mean for our industry? Should companies in residential PHCE follow suit and conduct rounds of mass layoffs, too? Or should we be instituting a hiring freeze at our respective companies?

In a word: no. Keep an eye on your profit and loss statements, of course, but no. This isn’t about us. You should always be recruiting. Broken A/C units don’t care about recessions! Our industry was a true essential service during the early stages of COVID, and will continue to be through this current economic situation.

Let’s start with the layoff question. Most companies conducting mass layoffs are big corporations. Most businesses in the trades are much smaller, and don’t deal with tens of thousands of employees. It’s a different playing field! And here’s a data point for you: 77% of companies are not planning to slow down budgeted hiring this year. In fact, 60% of companies are planning to increase their hiring! Who’s doing the most hiring? Small businesses. Another indicator that the recent layoffs are not impacting most of the labor force is the fact that U.S. unemployment is still under 4%, which is extremely low. The competition for talent remains as strong as ever.

So, what should we do, as employers in the residential PHCE industry? Well, the answer is right in front of you. Literally! Your top recruitment priority should be to continue to focus on employee retention. Retention is recruiting. The labor market for us is still tight, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete with rising wages. It’s been a candidate’s market for several years. I would wager those high wages have had an impact on your company’s bottom line. But there is a significant cost to employee turnover. Besides factoring in the cost of the employees leaving, remember there is also the toll turnover takes on the employees who stay.

Your next priority should be to tighten up your talent acquisition game. Your goal in talent acquisition should be to find as many “A players” as possible for your company and minimize the risk of a bad hire. Having a solid process that is intentional and consistently followed will help you accomplish this and avoid turnover.

Finally, consider this: with all these big corporate layoffs, there are now some very smart people open to work. Take advantage of the situation and attract them to your company and this industry.

Nexstar members, as you think about approaching your talent acquisition program holistically, contact your Recruiting and Talent Coaches Steffan Busch and Jason Florek. If you are interested in learning about becoming a Nexstar member, contact us today.

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