Covid-19 Workforce Management Trends & New Realities

With each passing hour, the deluge of breaking news continues to build and dramatically impact the way we manage the workforce.  At Right Management, we work with thousands of clients across hundreds of industries and see it as our responsibility to share what we’re learning.  Below is a recap of the trends we’re seeing in Workforce Mobility, Workforce Development and Workforce Acquisition.  We’re committed to keeping this resource center up to date so check back often. One thing is for sure, we can’t wait for things to return to normal – we have to adjust now.  Let’s work together to prepare for the realities of our new normal.

Workforce Mobility Trends

It seems like yesterday that we were talking to clients about record job growth, shockingly low unemployment and the role Career Transition services play in a robust workforce management strategy.  Seemingly overnight, everything has changed.  We’re now talking about the vital importance of transition support in a market that may see record unemployment and overall underemployment. The companies we’re working with that have the best, most cogent responses to the coronavirus crisis are partnering with us in these key areas: Reduction Project Definition, Communication Planning, Candidate Selection & Risk Mitigation, Virtual Project Support Planning, Notifier Training and Outcome Measurement and Management.  We’re helping organizations of all sizes and industries tailor a plan that achieves critical financial relief while offering much-needed support in this unprecedented employment market.

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Workforce Development Trends

Over the past few years, we’ve participated in numerous exploratory conversations about digital leadership. Companies knew they had digital skills gaps that would need to be addressed but that was a challenge to tackle tomorrow, not today.  My how things have changed. Overnight, companies across the globe are dealing with the painful impact of their digital leadership gap. Teams once tightly connected through physical presence are having to collaborate digitally with poor results. The time to act is now. The most progressive and resilient companies we’ve observed are taking two key actions in the area of Workforce Development: invest immediately in training aimed at empowering proven traditional leaders in a digital-first context and target individuals actively looking to leave their current employers with the required skills. 

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Workforce Acquisition Trends

It is hard to believe we’re only months or weeks removed from working with clients cursing the talent gap.  While there’s still a profound skills gap we’ll have to work together to solve, concerns about available talent feel like a distant memory as we see open requisitions close and broad hiring freezes take effect. While we expect hiring to be dramatically reduced in the coming months, quality hiring may never be more important.  As organizations are reducing total hires, they’re increasing focus and investment on making sure any hiring they do hits the mark.  What we’ve observed thus far is an increased focus on Success Profiling, Sourcing and Recruiting, Behavioral Interview Training, Quantitative Assessment and Robust Onboarding.  Simply put as companies hire less, the need to onboard and retain top level talent is unavoidably obvious.

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Workplace Best Practices

As Workforce Management partners to companies around the globe, we have the benefit of learning as much or more as we teach.  No one knows their businesses better than our clients, but sharing best practices helps the leaders we support think creatively or challenge traditionally-held norms. Below is an overview of the immediate action the best prepared companies on earth took in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is our privilege to share this information with you and we’re committed to keeping it updated with the latest in effective policy and procedure.

Practice Social Distancing

Not everyone can work from home. However, those who can should. Those unable to work remote – production, healthcare, etc. – should take immediate precautions. We work with clients who’ve put this common sense best practice in place across their organizations.

To make this happen:
• Identify all roles capable of working remote and institute an immediate work from home mandate
• Test tools needed to support remote work – teleconferencing, home office setups, etc. and ensure access to training/support resources
• Distribute policies for remote team check ins and 1:1s to ensure limited disruption to communication
• Establish a cadence for corporate messaging – check in regularly and often with the entire company via meeting, intranet or blog updates

If Not Distance, Disinfect

The reality is, not everyone can work remote. We need production workers, health care providers, first responders and many others to remain healthy and active. To do that, we have to do our part as teammates.

We’ve seen a number of world-class companies immediately institute:
• Expanded space between employee workstations or production setups
• Barriers put in place to reinforce social distance and act as a helpful reminders
• Updated cleaning schedules that promote social distance but ensure sanitized work areas
• Staggered lunches to avoid large groups congregating in common areas
• Distribution of personal hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to all employees

When In Doubt, Stay Home

By now we’ve all heard we need to stay home if we’re sick. But has your PTO and sick day policy kept up?

We’re seeing many organizations:
• Update the PTO and sick day policy to exclude CV19-related illness
• Ensure individuals, managers, directors and corporate leaders know everyone needs to stay home if sick – no penalty, no lost time
• Broadly and regularly remind employees that there is no penalty for being sick or staying home – this is a unique, global pandemic

Eliminate Non-Essential Travel, Rethink Essential Travel

For many, business travel is a regular part of life. Given the breadth and velocity of the spread of Covid-19, many companies are restricting business travel altogether in favor of remote meetings. Unfortunately, restricting all business travel likely isn’t feasible.

To protect employees who travel, we’re seeing the following policies enacted:
• Eliminate all non-essential travel – in-person sales meetings, conferences, group training, etc.
• Develop policies consistent with CDC guidance ( for those unable to stay home
• Coordinate with peers, vendors and clients to ensure social distancing practices are in place in both origin and destination locations
• Stay on top of confirmed cases occurring at or near airport facilities before finalizing travel (

Visit Virtually

Not only are we seeing broad visitor restrictions, we’re seeing organizations avoiding contact between colleagues from different locations. Inasmuch as Covid-19 is capable of spreading while patients are asymptomatic, it is better to be safe than sorry.

To avoid business disruption, we’re seeing companies:
• Eliminate visitor access for up to 90-120 days
• Eliminate in-person contact between employees from different locations – even different buildings on the same campus
• Develop access policies for essential or emergency visits – facility emergencies, health emergencies, etc.
• Proactively convert planned meetings to virtual meetings – plan ahead vs. responding

Invest in Supervisor Training

A recent Harvard survey revealed 65% of companies with employees in China are training supervisors to adequately respond to the Covid-19 pandemic while only 34% of those with employees in North America report investing in management training.

Without a doubt this will change as the virus spreads, but our most progressive clients are training leaders to answer:
• What is the message, how is it delivered, what does leadership support look like?
• How can we identify impacted employees and what is the recommended response?
• How do we respond to potential exposure?
• What information does enterprise leadership and human resources need to stay on top of trends?

Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas

With everyone working from home, keeping employees engaged and teams strong is a challenge that all organizations are facing. We’re going to have to get creative with how we interact – here are a few ways employees can stay engaged in a virtual world.
Video conferencing capabilities required (:

Virtual Happy Hour

Pop open your favorite bottle of wine or crack open your beer of choice. When everyone is stuck inside, what better way to let off some steam and bond with your coworkers than over a drink - a virtual drink of course.

Virtual Charades

This might sound silly, but it's guaranteed you'll get at least a few good laughs out of this one. In a time like this, we all need a good laugh. Plus, it's a great team-building exercise!

Virtual Potluck

Same concept as the virtual happy hour, but add food! We all love food, and we all need to eat. Call up your usual work-day lunch buddy and share a virtual meal - better yet, invite your whole team! Or company!

Group Giving

We all know that businesses are going to struggle over the coming months - especially the retail and service industries. Nothing brings people together quite like rallying around a good cause. Find a local place that may be struggling, and lend a hand.

Johns Hopkins University Global COVID-19 Case Tracker

Additional Resources & Info

Free Course: The Science of Well-Being By Yale University

Free Online Mindfulness Class for Kids By Mindful Schools


Meals for Students
During School Closure

On Wheels

Blue Cross
Blue Shield of MI

Health Alliance
Plan of Michigan


Home Education

Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19

8 Questions Employers Should Ask About Coronavirus

Michigan COVID-19 Updates and Hotline

Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

Novel Coronavirus Travel Health Information

TSA Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

US Department of labor Coronavirus Resources

National Restaurant Association Coronavirus Information and Resources

NAFSA Coronavirus Critical Resources

The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy and Productive Quarantine

COVID-19 and the American Workplace

COVID-19 Food and Safety Tips

Navigating Mental Health During a Quarantine

Michigan Food Pantries

United Way SE Michigan

Free Tools and Services for Businesses During the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 and car buyers: What car makers are doing to help customers during coronavirus

Enforcing Paid Leave Rights Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

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Self-Coaching 101 by Brooke Castillo

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Planet Money (NPR)

Freakonomics Radio


Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell

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Jojo Rabbit

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Knives Out

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Little Women




Imitation of Life


Sixth Sense

The Wiz

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The Crown


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Game of Thrones


The Mandalorian


The Big Bang Theory


The Haunting of Hill House

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel



Self Made

Little Fires Everywhere

The Riches

The Wire

Twilight Zone

The Game

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

The Man in the High Castle 

Tin Star


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We Stand By You, We're Here to Help

The Covid-19 pandemic reinforces much of what we already know. Our global partners are resourceful, empathetic and committed to coming together to solve big problems. If you or your company need a helping hand or a partner to bounce ideas off of during these unprecedented times, we’re here. As members of our local and global communities, it is our privilege to serve you as you serve your employees. If you fill out the form below, we will reach out to you within one business day.