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Local Business Market Trends & Insights During COVID-19

Posted on April 9, 2020
Cassee GerWritten by Cassee Ger | Email author
Washington DC business insights during coronavirus pandemic

Faced with unprecedented times, a declining economy, a new “normal” for most organizations, COVID-19 is changing the way we do business, and new trends are emerging.  Certainly, many organizations are facing economic hardship, and for other organizations, there is emerging opportunity.  Trends are emerging that not only impact how businesses are run now in this unprecedented time but lasting trends that will affect how organizations operate in the future, long after COVID-19.

An Insider’s Look Into How DC Employers are Responding to the Coronavirus

Here are a few of the trends and examples we are seeing across the Mid-Atlantic Washington Region among our clients and business partners.

Hiring

Business leaders, hiring managers and candidates are all navigating these uncertainties together and remain flexible while keeping safety the priority.

  • Industry-Driven Impact: We have seen a spike in hiring in the biomedical and healthcare fields and a decrease or a hold on positions for commercial and non-essential government contractors. If hiring is put on hold, organizations are using this time to build their passive candidate pipelines to ensure a quick start-up when business resumes as usual.
  • Candidates: Candidates who are in secure positions are more hesitant to consider making a move right now.  Candidates in unstable markets (hospitality, retail, etc.) are anxious to find new opportunities. Candidates are viewing companies that are operating in a virtual capacity as more progressive thinking and they are attracted to companies with this mind-set.
  • Virtual Processes: Many companies are implementing virtual HR processes for recruiting, onboarding, etc. Interviews are being conducted at the same pace, and existing tools are being used to conduct virtual interviews (such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype). Clients who had job fairs scheduled have transitioned them to a virtual job fair. 
  • Clearances and Background Checks: For positions needing a clearance check or a specific background check, the process has slowed significantly. In most areas, there are no options or resources for fingerprinting. With universities shut-down, education verifications are not able to be completed. Companies have begun accepting physical copies of diplomas to verify employment and degree requirements.

Policies

  • PTO: Many employees are canceling their planned time off and organizations are considering how they are going to handle the influx of PTO requests once travel restrictions are lifted.
  • Work Schedules: Alternative work schedules are being put into place based on building access, location, space, and the number of individuals that need to be in an office at one time.
  • Travel: Most organizations have implemented their own travel restrictions or revised travel policies.
  • IT Security: IT policies are being reviewed and revised to support remote workers and ensuring that the security of company information is safe from vulnerabilities.

Vendor Support

Many providers are finding ways to offer helpful resources in the wake of COVID-19. Below are a few examples:

Engagement

Social distancing shouldn’t mean disconnected!  Here are some creative ways leaders are encouraging engagement during this time:

  • Leaders are frequently touching base with their remote employees to keep that feeling of connection and providing regular updates.
  • Video chat is being encouraged and promoted at most places, to create greater morale and interaction between colleagues.
  • Sending care packages to employees
  • Providing snacks to encourage taking breaks and getting out of house when possible
  • Virtual happy hours or coffee breaks
  • Providing lunch vouchers to places like Uber Eats for employees to have a virtual lunch break with their colleagues
  • Playing virtual games together by using gaming services such as JackBox Games
  • Establishing friendly competitions such FitBit challenges or Funny Hat Day
  • Encouraging the use of leave for mental health

Cutting or Reducing Cost

  • Reducing or eliminating any unnecessary expenses or spending. 
  • Temporarily suspending pay increases or bonuses.
  • Delaying defined 401k contributions until January 2021. However, employers would be responsible for the interest on the delayed contributions.  Further information can be found here.  
  • Asking vendors for flexibility or alternative payment options. For example, some businesses are asking their landlord for the ability to make deferred payments on their office lease due to government-mandated restrictions.
  • Watching for risk. For those who provide products or services, maintaining a close eye on accounts receivables to ensure payments are still being made, and if not, working with those organizations on payment plans.

Furloughs/Lay Offs

Organizations are encouraging employees impacted to apply for unemployment.

If there is one take away from these local market insights, it’s safe to say organizations more than even have become resilient and have learned lessons that will transform the workplace and how we do work. Evolved hiring practices, policy modifications, remote working, redefined business strategies and keeping the wellbeing of the employees top of mind, there are so many positive things and inspiring actions that have emerged from COVID-19. 

To keep up with the latest emerging trends, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Page often for up-to-date information to help you stay informed. 

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