At the start of 2020, many companies had doubled down on efforts to recruit and retain their workforces. Many of these plans focused on employee engagement, becoming a destination employer and continuous recruitment of high potential individuals.

But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those same companies that have since paused recruiting efforts  in the uncertainty have lost sight of their most valuable asset – their people.

Within the span of a few weeks, we witnessed a workplace arena of record low 3% joblessness to one of over 10 million people filing for unemployment. Despite the $2-trillion CARES act passed to provide relief, some employees may still perceive a lack of care from their employer.

While every company needs to make decisions based on its own unique circumstances, there are many firms with strong balance sheets, large backlogs of work and the wherewithal to use the current “stay home, stay safe” mantra as an extension of an employee-focused culture.

As entrepreneur-investor Mark Cuban recently stated: “How companies respond to the coronavirus is going to define their brand for decades.”

Define Your Brand

How do you want your company to be defined? What do you want your current employees to remember from this pandemic? And most importantly, how do you want your company to emerge from these uncertain times?

While these are stressful times indeed, it is important to remember that healthy relationships are often strengthened under stress. We have an opportunity to connect with our employees and strengthen those relationships in ways we have not discovered until now. We will all remember this time in history, and we will all remember how our employers treated us during this difficult time—whether good, bad or indifferent.

While all companies are being impacted by this change, some are being more proactive than others. The opportunity is here to draw in employees, reinforce your people-first culture and strengthen relationships that will bear fruit long after this virus is gone.

Stand by your people, and they will stand by you—but or course now do it with a healthy 6-foot social distance!

Despite construction industry expansion over the years, many firms have reacted to the current global health crisis by halting their recruiting process—an instinctive and seemingly logical response in the new socially distant environment, but one that will hinder your ability to identify top talent and slow potential for continued growth.

While virtual interviewing may not be the best way to scout candidates, it remains a viable option, leaving the door open to move forward while still conducting business. Keeping recruiting operations moving allows hiring managers to comb through more resumes than usual, and provides candidates more time to scout prospective employers.

Making no progress on the recruiting front adds to future challenges. Companies that halted recruiting could potentially find they are behind the curve when the time comes to return to normalcy.

One Top 20 ENR contractor that previously implemented a company-wide hiring freeze recently called back to clarify that they still seek to keep recruitment proceeding. Other employers are using this time to proceed with long deferred succession plans and to determine if there is a need to fill leadership gaps.

When employees return to work with the difficult task of picking up from weeks of delayed activity and meetings, it may be tough to simultaneously jumpstart stalled recruiting efforts. The time to build pipelines, connections and relationships is now.

Prior recessions have shown that companies can use these challenging times to unite and inspire their employees. This is a great time to build your brand and highlight your culture. Providing staff with open and honest communication in facing a tough and uncertain path ahead reinforces confidence and loyalty to current and future team members.

In times of uncertainty, look for the opportunity.

Mark DeVerges is senior manager of executive recruiter DHG Search and can be reached at

Contributing authors are Karen Calhoun, DHG Search manager who can be reached at; Stephanie Kaufman, senior associate, reachable at, and Ryan Krishnan, senior associate, reachable at

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