Seemingly overnight, flights ground to a halt, cruise ships docked, Broadway dimmed its lights and concert halls emptied.
With no music festivals or world travel anywhere in sight, companies operating in the BEACH (booking, entertainment, airlines, cruises and casinos, hotels and resorts) industries faced losing workers almost immediately because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the economic fallout from the pandemic will go on to be responsible for widespread layoffs across many industries, recruiters can learn important early lessons by looking at what’s happening with BEACH businesses that were impacted hardest, and most immediately.
Despite the circumstances, many impacted companies will try to fight tooth and nail to protect their best talent, which means holding onto coveted skills until it’s time to decide between saving employees or saving the company. The latter being paramount in helping look after the people who are left. Decisions will be made similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, with meeting basic needs taking priority over all else. Unfortunately, the BEACH industries have found themselves in the direst circumstances almost immediately, so while others are stingily holding on to talent, the BEACH is releasing it.
That’s why research from McKinsey & Company shows that 92% of jobs in accommodation and food services, 89% of those in arts, entertainment and recreation and 51% in retail are vulnerable — staggering figures that include in-demand tech, e-commerce and marketing workers. As a result, the BEACH, already struggling through the crisis, has inadvertently created a talent jackpot for those companies still recruiting. CVS Health provided an early example, committing to filling many of its openings with furloughed workers from Marriott and Hilton while adding child, adult or elder care services and paid sick leave to part-time employee benefits to help entice new hires.
For those recruiting, the present situation has undoubtedly changed the supply of BEACH candidates, particularly those with tech skills. Until recently, unemployment in the tech sector lingered around 2.4%, lower than the national average throughout 2019. Long seen as some of the hardest-to-hire candidates, recent spikes in unemployment have flipped this market with McKinsey citing that 29% of these jobs are vulnerable, many for the first time in years, giving recruiting teams reason to move from passive sourcing to active.
Even so, recruiting tech candidates will continue to require a carefully orchestrated dance, getting in front of job seekers quickly and turning a spotlight on everything the organization has to offer from culture to compensation. That means taking an A-game approach that both acknowledges the value these job seekers provide an organization while recognizing the needs of each individual; needs that are rapidly changing. Remote work is one such example, as Twitter recently announced it will let some employees work from home forever.
The skills of certain workers, especially tech, remain desired, requested and marketable despite the conditions, and they know it. Combined with seeing the impact of COVID-19 on their industries firsthand, tech workers from the BEACH will be unlikely to make sacrifices in their search, looking instead to potential employers for evidence of stability and safety and leaving recruiters to compete for their attention.
Likewise, for BEACH employers eager to retain top talent, it’s important to promote the sustainability of the organization while demonstrating a vested interest in the well-being of employees. While it’s probable that the number of jobless claims might help keep some employees engaged, top performers won’t wait around for the next round of layoffs. Instead, they’ll start their search while still employed on their current employer’s dime. Even marketing teams, which some sources indicate have been harder hit than others, will only stay if the organization is viable and if they’re treated well. Employer brand still matters, as organizations like WeWork and ZipRecruiter continue to learn the hard way following deep workforce reductions.
Putting employee concerns top of mind will need to take precedence over reopening plans. As seen with the tech giants, those able to maintain productivity and performance remotely should be encouraged to do so. At the same time, those jobs that demand a physical presence should be protected against the virus at all costs. Music venues and theaters will need to rethink how employees interact with guests, as will airlines, cruises and casinos. Hotels and resorts will need to implement new procedures for hospitality and other services. In these instances, precautions will work to safeguard guests and patrons as well, to the benefit of the company.
Whether looking to recruit or retain, employers need to consider the position and perspective of BEACH workers at this moment, rather than wait around for the long-term lessons bound to appear. If the recession wears on, many industries will find themselves in the same unenviable position. Candidates affected by recent layoffs are likely to think before going to work for an organization that doesn’t account for what they experienced. Similarly, BEACH companies will need to take extra measures to keep retained employees healthy and happy as reopening begins.
Both require a level of concern and compassion not always seen under “normal” circumstances.