As we grapple with the immediate effects of COVID-19 on our economy and move to counter its devastating long-term impacts on businesses, the workforce, emergency response infrastructure, and general commerce, it is important to consider what lies on the other side.
When we emerge from the one of most significant crises in our lifetimes, it is critical to reflect on lessons learned in both financial and human terms. For business leaders, COVID-19 has illustrated the undeniable value of flexibility, contingency plans, and resilience; the fragility and importance of personal interaction; the interconnectedness of services, products, and people; and, the power of shared prosperity. How do we use the lessons of today to shape tomorrow’s best practices?
Business success hinges on the employee. And, during this crisis, it’s encouraging to see business leaders begin to look at their workers in more holistic terms. Continuing the trend will be key to success in our post-pandemic world, and we believe Open Hiring can help address some of the labor needs heightened by this crisis.
Through Open Hiring®, a model pioneered by Greyston, organizations offer employment to anyone who wants to work with no questions asked, no resumes, no interviews, and no background checks. The model has a compelling value proposition: help individuals and local economies thrive while reducing recruitment cost and time. And, today more than ever, it is a meaningful business solution as today’s labor market shifts rapidly in response to consumer demands during the pandemic.
Many essential businesses, such as Amazon and CVS Health, now are hiring at unprecedented rates to accommodate increased demand. Post-crisis, companies that have had to lay off workers will need to rapidly rebuild their talent pools as they work to regain their foothold in the market. By implementing Open Hiring, corporations can remove barriers to employment, allowing them to fill vacancies quickly and provide opportunities to marginalized populations who have a hard time getting past traditional employment vetting practices. Greyston and its partners have proven that these screening processes are unnecessary and a poor use of resources. The Body Shop recently piloted Open Hiring at their distribution center, and saw a 60% reduction in turnover and 13% improvement in productivity after removing requirements such as background checks and drug tests.
Eliminating unnecessary screening practices generates significant cost savings for employers, who, on average, spend over $4,000 per hire on recruitment. But Open Hiring is not about saving money. Rather, it shifts investment towards a much better use of resources: a holistic employee support model. During this crisis, employers have become keenly aware that a productive workforce is a healthy one. Bottom lines suffer because of poorly protected workers and insufficient workplace safety protocols. Productivity declines due to employee illness, stress, and lack of supplemental training. Essential workers struggle as they try to address child and elder care needs, or access other suspended support programs. COVID-19 has revealed acute needs that always have been there and can be addressed by employers, either alone or through provider partnerships.
Management teams that invest in the wellbeing of their employees are rewarded with improved performance and loyalty. In turn, each individual has the opportunity to meet his or her personal needs, which translates into more engaged workers, and stronger families and communities. Employers must understand that, while physical health is essential, it is critical to support employees’ mental and social needs. Offering access to supportive services, such as workforce development and training, child care, housing assistance, financial literacy, mental health services, and wellness and nutrition initiatives creates an essential social safety net that staff across the organization may access. Services such as these have proven invaluable in supporting Greyston Bakery’s workers, who have been reporting onsite every day during the crisis. Having this system in place has allowed the company to be nimble and prepared in addressing their basic needs, and provide a greater sense of security when most necessary.
Businesses don’t have to develop their employee support models alone. For instance, Greyston has forged a strong, effective partnership with Westchester Jewish Community Services to care for our staff, and has a WJCS case worker on site, readily available to anyone who needs assistance. Business leaders would do well to reach out to local social services organizations to learn best practices and collaborate on initiatives that suit their particular requirements.
Now is the time to work together and across sectors to solve the complex human challenges we face. COVID-19 has highlighted business, infrastructure, and social needs that were there already, and we must seriously consider lessons learned and actively plan for a better future. Crisis demands innovation, and, every day, we develop new practical and social approaches to stem the coronavirus tide. These solutions can guide our new normal and ensure positive change. Through inclusive human capital models such as Open Hiring, companies can continuously invest in their workers to improve employee well-being while boosting the bottom line. It’s not charity; it’s good business.