The Upside to the Economic Downside!

The Upside to the Economic Downside!

by Sara Bennett | November 2, 2020

0 Author-Jeanne, Featured in Newsletter, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS


employers win the Northwest race for talentMessage to Northwest Employers:  When the Going Gets Tough, Look for New Ways to WIN!      

In our 40+ years of business, one thing we’ve learned from navigating the ups and downs of many economic environments, is that there is always an upside to every downside.   While economic challenges can drive companies to change in ways that seem without choice at the time, many of these changes get sustained long after the economic challenge because they serve people and companies well.   Companies who embrace these changes tend to thrive.    Those who don’t often are left behind.  

That’s particularly true for the people side of Northwest businesses where, despite the business shutdowns, we’re seeing employers finding reasons to add new staff, exploring new ways to get work done, and re discovering new staffing models that weren’t on their radar prior to the March/April Covid shut downs.   We’re seeing employers do things they had to do to survive, but that are likely to linger long after our economic collapse, in some cases allowing them to thrive in what lies ahead.  These are the upsides to any downside that are always there but sometimes get lost in the shuffle. 

Here’s just a few of the upsides we’ve seen Northwest businesses take advantage of as they manage thru their come backs:   

  • Many companies are upping the ante on hiring exceptional (as opposed to average) talent to fuel their build back.  Here’s the dynamic:  During the covid shut down, employers were forced to take stock of their talent assets –  the skills and mindsets of the employees they had in place pre covid and the skills and mindset they believed they would need to compete in the new business environment, post co vid.   As these employers downsized, and asked existing employees to “do more with less”, the employees who weren’t up to that challenge were often the first to be furloughed or in some cases downsized.  But as these employers reduced the size of their teams, they also  uncovered they could get more done with fewer employees.  This meant that when it came time to build back, employers have been more focused than ever on hiring exceptional employees – employees with the talent needed to be successful in their right sized businesses.   The opportunity Northwest employers have right now to reposition their teams for success in the future is a big upside to our current downside.   We’re here to help!  


  • Right sizing strategies work best when the candidate marketplace is rich with high performing talent – like it is now.   With unemployment in the local area in excess of 9%, and revenue strapped employers forced to lay off even their best performers, there hasn’t been this many high performers actively looking for several decades.  We’re seeing it now big time. And while its true that a large number of candidates available for work can overwhelm employers who rely on job postings to source candidates (too many candidates, too little time), for employers who know how to target, identify and tell their story in a compelling  right recruiting storaidentify and target exceptional talent, this is a great time hire “up”.  We’re here to heop en in a long while!  We think it wise for them to consider that opportunity (and of course we’re here to help).


  • Employers are able to cast a much wider net for the talent they need.   Virtual work settings have indeed become the norm, allowing employers to look for and find talent without geographical restrictions. Employees living in Everett can now consider working for companies headquartered in Tacoma– a phenomenon that prior to the mandatory lock down,  and the normalization of virtual work models, would not have been possible.   This means the search for the “best talent” needs to be broader and better than it has been in the past.  A companies ability to seek out, engage, and ultimately hire great talent is more complex than ever, but also more important than ever.   We’re here to help! 
  • The impact of lowered operational costs (minimized rent as just one example) stemming from the massive migration from offices to homes will benefit employers and employees for the next decade.  The success of work from home models will slow down efforts to bring employees back into traditional office settings for some time to come.  Whether building owners will be able to to lure these companies and their employees back to their abandoned buildings is yet to be seen, but clearly the upside of this particular economic downside are some renewed financial models about “employee costs” – perhaps encouraging more hiring in the future.  Employers who learn how to optimize performance in a virtual world will be the winners on the go forward.  Recruiting and vetting talent who will thrive in virtual work settings will be key as we are already seeing that not all employees can make that shift.  We’re here to help! 


  • One of the side effects of virtual work environments has been an increased emphasis on managers and employees working together to define work and setting clear (and often measurable) expectations for performance.   As work behaviors are no longer observable, managers have turned to other methods of getting information about what an employee is doing and how they are contributing – methods that, when properly implemented and executed,  improve how managers and their employees interact on issues related to performance.  Employees tell us there have  been more conversations to initiate course corrections when results are off.  We think this is a good thing that will impact how candidates are recruited, screened, evaluated and hired, in most cases reducing hiring mistakes.   Virtual work settings have not only required managers to better manage the results the organization needs but also to collaborate more effectively with their remote employees.    


  • Under the pressure to deal with a whole range of new work life situations,  Northwest employers have been forced to reconsider flexible work arrangements and have seen them benefit both employers and employees.  The challenges employers have faced not just to manage large teams of remote workers, but to rearrange work schedules to allow employees to be available for children doing virtual learning, has required forward thinking managers to re think the logistics of how work get done.  Simply put, flexibility is no longer a “nice to have” but an important  “need to have” in order to retain high quality employees and for many employers has been formalized into new policies and operating norms.   The good news in this change is that managers have uncovered that for most employees, holding them accountable for results, not just time at work, is a more productive and satisfying way to work – a management skill that will have considerable upside in the future.


  •  Employees are redefining what it means to have a “great job” or work for a “great employer”. Obviously the snack bars, arcade-like “play areas”, or Friday afternoon “wine” downs, are no longer easy elements to implement inside a remote work setting, a scenario which given  employers new opportunities to define who they are and what role they need to play in an employee’s life.  Employers have an opportunity to refocus their recruiting and retention practices around the intrinsic value of “the person and their work” , making sure they hire employees who are “good fits” not just for the social elements of the work setting, but for the actual work content and the employer’s expectations for results.   It also marks an opportunity to redefine what’s important about a company’s culture –  how employees are engaged, how leadership gives and earns trust,  what and how communications are delivered, etc.. The challenge of delivering these cultural features in settings without face to face interaction, has required both managers and employees to operate more intentionally.  From a recruiting perspective, what hasn’t changed is that offering work that engages the employee in ways that matches how they want to be engaged is what always makes the difference.   We’re here to help!  

Northwest employers who are poised to take advantage of the new opportunities created by our current economic shortfalls, are likely to experience the upside of changes that will endure for some time to come.  Northwest employers have already learned how to survive an economic crisis, now they must learn to thrive in whatever comes next. 


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte. 

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312, e mail us at or visit our website at www.

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