Five Strategies to Boost Workforce Attraction and Retention Amid COVID-19

28 Apr 2021

by Erik Collins

Pre-pandemic talent attraction and retention was a hot topic for many businesses and a top priority for human resource departments. Unfortunately, the pandemic is causing many organizations to stretch themselves in new ways to meet unprecedented demands. Employees are facing real concerns for their health, work-family arrangements and financial security. In this time of uncertainty, what can organizations do to ensure they are attracting, retaining, and motivating the employees they need to not only survive – but to thrive?

The pandemic has affected each organization in a different way. Some organizations have instituted furloughs, layoffs and closings to respond to COVID-19 challenges. Other companies have expanded and have even grown as their roles as an essential business has become more clear. Skilled individuals who have recently become unemployed may seek out opportunities with essential businesses, and those who are still employed in non-essential businesses may seek out better opportunities with essential businesses. Based on our work in Montgomery County, I’ve outlined several strategies for attracting and retaining workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic below.


Expand Your Hiring Pool

The pandemic has forced many businesses to think differently and adapt to telework — and many have found that a conference room or daily commute is unnecessary to continue producing quality work. Businesses have seen advantages to telework, which has allowed them to expand their hiring pool beyond their borders.


Speed Up the Hiring Process

Consider new methods for interviewing such as virtual interviews, virtual job fairs, and tech-enabled interactions like Zoom, Calendly, or text messaging to ease communication with candidates.


Connect with Businesses That Have Laid Off or Furloughed Workers

Partner with other local businesses to find permanent or temporary employment for laid off and furloughed employees. This type of partnership benefits one organization by easily finding talent and benefits the other by helping reduce unemployment insurance claims.


Provide Meaningful Benefits

The pandemic has affected everyone in significant, yet unique, ways. While all employees may be struggling in some way, their situations aren’t the same. Employers can help lift up their workforce by offering meaningful employee benefits.

Robust health care offerings may seem like an obvious one-size-fits-all solution, but sometimes voluntary benefits are actually what employees need. These include caregiving assistance, financial counseling, increased paid time off and other nontraditional perks. There are many low-cost options available and, better yet, employees can choose their benefits a la carte to meet their individual needs.

Look Internally for Talent 

If an employer is struggling to fill an important role with an outside candidate, it could be that they’re looking in the wrong place. Many organizations are now focusing on upskilling current employees and retraining them for more important positions. This can be significant for a few reasons.

First, outside candidates would need to be trained anyway, so upskilling a current employee wouldn’t be any more burdensome. Since they’re already familiar with the workplace and its operations, it may even be easier.

Second, many recruiting teams are expecting big slashes to their budgets in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, shuffling around current employees could help save the bottom line.

Finally, promoting employees from within the organization shows that an employer is willing to invest in their career growth. This sentiment can go a long way in retaining top talent.


Now more than ever, employers need to thoughtfully consider talent management strategies to optimize outcomes for all. The pandemic has expedited a colossal shift in the workplace. Businesses that take the time and effort to understand the COVID-19 era work environment may be better positioned to find and retain the best possible talent for success and longevity.