Navigating a Hiring Freeze: 3 Best Practices for Employers

Navigating a Hiring Freeze: 3 Best Practices for Employers
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While hiring freezes are often initiated to provide economic relief, they can pose significant challenges for human resource (HR) leaders, talent acquisition professionals, and department managers. Current and potential employees are often left feeling uncertain about how a hiring freeze will impact their future with the company. However, employers can take several measures to prevent employee panic and preserve candidate engagement during these temporary periods. We’ve prepared three best practices to help employers navigate a hiring freeze and emerge victoriously once it’s ended!

Communication With Current Employees

Communicating with your current employees is the first and most important step towards surviving a hiring freeze. The last thing any employee wants is to hear the news through the grape vine. Consider preparing a thoughtful, reassuring, formal message that is sent to the entire company before any public announcements are made with candidates.

After you’ve briefed your team, it’s critical to create continued transparency and keep the lines of communication open. Doing so provides clarity and gives everyone an opportunity to address concerns, ensure alignment, and maintain employee morale. Here are a few effective ways to maintain open communication when navigating a hiring freeze:

  1. Consistent Check-Ins: Devote a little extra time in your one-on-one (or team meetings) to gathering feedback, understanding challenges, or simply thanking employees for stepping up.
  2. Regular Updates: Follow up. Keep everyone informed on the status of the hiring freeze based upon what you’re able to share. If there are simply no updates be sure to communicate that as well.
  3. Practice Active Listening: Don’t respond immediately. Instead, listen intently to employee feedback, suggestions, and ideas. Step away and reflect on how to address any concerns or implement suggestions and recommendations. Then, communicate back!

Re-Evaluate Bandwidth and Priorities

During a hiring freeze, it’s critical to seriously assess your team’s workload and priorities to avoid employee burnout. When employees and managers are pushed to the brink–even temporarily–it can lead to lack of motivation, exhaustion, and ultimately separation. While it may be normal for everyone to feel stretched during a hiring freeze, the situation will quickly become magnified if there’s a sudden increase in employee turnover. So, what can you do to support an overwhelmed team and prevent employee burnout during these rocky times?

  • Become familiar with the signs of employee burnout (you can’t fix what you can’t see).
  • Act swiftly to prevent employee burnout (if something seems a little off, it most likely is).
  • Encourage your team to schedule paid time off (even though it seems counterintuitive).

There are several ways to ensure your team is supported during a hiring freeze without sacrificing productivity. For instance, you might agree to extend the timeline for a specific objective and key result (OKR) without completely abandoning the initiative. Review these six best practices on How To Prevent Employee Burnout for additional ideas.

Nurture Current Candidates

Maintaining frequent communication with candidates is also critical during a hiring freeze! It’s key to preserve the relationships you’ve already worked hard to establish regardless of where an applicant currently sits in the hiring process. Keeping candidates engaged continuously throughout a hiring freeze has the following benefits:

  • Protects your employer brand: Candidates have invested their time and shown interest in your organization, so it’s common courtesy to keep them engaged and updated on the status of their application.
  • Establishes a safety net: In the event of an unexpected voluntary or involuntary separation, your team can quickly tap into a network of top talent should you need to backfill a current position at a moment notice. 
  • Ensures talent pool integrity: Remember, the hiring freeze is only temporary. Maintaining strong relationships with candidates will reinforce the connection so you’re able to quickly gain momentum once the hiring freeze has been lifted.

Ultimately, a hiring freeze can serve as an opportunity to strengthen candidate relationships, enhance team dynamics, and prepare for future growth. Embracing these methods will help company leaders maintain a supportive work environment, optimize productivity, and retain top talent. However, keep in mind that–even under normal pretenses–it’s not always possible to speed up the hiring process. Evaluating whether a candidate is qualified for a position can take weeks or months. That’s why we’ve prepared a few ideas on how to nurture your talent pool. Be sure to explore these six interview strategies to keep your candidates engaged during a longer-than-average hiring process!

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