17 Things Your HR Team Can Do During a Hiring Freeze

What's one thing HR teams should do during a hiring freeze to turn it to their advantage?

To help you maximize your time, even during a hiring freeze, we asked HR experts and business leaders this question for their best pieces of advice. From redirecting your efforts to employee well-being to involving your staff’s advice, there are several recommendations that may help you keep things moving upward, even during a slow time, like a freeze.

Here are 17 tips these leaders suggest for taking advantage of a hiring freeze:

  • Direct Your Efforts Toward Boosting Employee Wellbeing
  • Refine Your Onboarding Program
  • Conduct Job Analysis of Existing Roles
  • Set Up “Talking Tours” to Collect Feedback
  • Remain Serious About Mobility and Development
  • Act to Protect Company's Human Capital
  • Enhance Your Website Design and Career Pages
  • Reallocate Resources to Focus On Internal Development
  • Hold Internal Employee Interviews
  • Upgrade Your Applicant Tracking System
  • Build a Talent Pipeline
  • Reassess Your Current Team's Skills
  • Encourage Adaptability Across Teams
  • Offer Upskilling Opportunities
  • Do a Deep-Dive With Workforce Planning
  • Refine Your Hiring Practices
  • Ask Staff What They Would Look for in Future Hires


Direct Your Efforts Toward Boosting Employee Wellbeing

Focus on employee satisfaction and retention by reevaluating your benefits package and incentives. Whether you can provide more paid time off, mental health benefits, or paid gym memberships, prioritizing the well-being of your team members will improve their positivity and productivity. 

While a hiring freeze doesn't mean layoffs are coming, it can cause concern among employees about the future of their employment with your company. But directing your efforts toward your talent will help ease those fears and keep your business running smoothly.

Shaunak Amin, CEO & Co-Founder, SwagMagic

Refine Your Onboarding Program

With retaining talent becoming a priority for businesses, there has been more emphasis placed on the importance of proper onboarding, and this is the reason why HR professionals should take advantage of a hiring freeze by refining their programs. 

There are few, if any, onboarding programs that could not use adjustments, as new technology and techniques can both streamline efforts and make them more effective.

Using the hiring freeze as a chance to investigate new software, looking into virtual reality programs, examine the different introduction-to-team techniques, and refine new hire support mechanisms, can go a long way in bettering your onboarding process and making it more effective. 

By taking advantage of a hiring freeze to better your onboarding process, you will not only make it more efficient, but reap the benefits of better employee retention as well.

Matt Miller, Founder & CEO, Embroker

Conduct Job Analysis of Existing Roles

While a hiring freeze may appear limiting, this can actually be an excellent opportunity to dive into existing roles and job descriptions.  

Taking time to truly assess the scope of your company’s current roles can help to identify organizational inefficiencies, skills gaps, and needed updates to job descriptions/titles. 

This will also allow HR to invest in employee development and career pathing based on the actual scope of work the team is currently producing.

Matthew Higgins, HR Generalist & Recruiter, MASA Global


Set Up “Talking Tours” to Collect Feedback

A hiring freeze can often present a unique opportunity for HR teams to stop and take a breath. It allows us to take stock of where we are in our journey and identify the gaps that need to be addressed.

This shouldn't be done in isolation. HR teams should set up "Talking Tours" to meet with multiple individuals across the organization and ask pointed questions about how people are feeling, their anxieties, areas in which they want to see improvement, and general feedback on culture and company direction.

Once this feedback is collected, we, as HR teams, can build a new roadmap to address what feedback we can, speak to the areas we can't and why, and help alleviate people's anxieties and concerns.

Noah Warder, Head of People, Guusto


Remain Serious About Mobility and Development

During a hiring freeze, HR should focus on internal mobility and career management for their employees. Using this opportunity to leverage some of the existing skills that are already within the organization not only improves employee engagement, but allows you to prioritize your workforce planning efforts using internal talent supply. 

HR should focus on creating internal talent marketplaces to make gig-type opportunities visible within the organization and allow employees to continue to develop and gain exposure.

By taking these actions, HR also sends a message to the employees that the organization remains serious about talent development and growth, helps engage employees, allows you to move skills to where the most significant short-term needs are, and avoid a mass exodus of employees while a hiring freeze is in place.

Dieter Veldsman, HR & OD Thought Leadership, Academy to Innovate HR


Act to Protect Your Company's Human Capital

Looking inside the company and evaluating its teams and individuals is a great way to overcome the hiring freeze period. 

Employees have priority in the selection processes for those essential open positions that have been frozen for some reason. Thus, investing in training, dynamics, and getting to know the needs and priorities of the company's employees should be HR's focus not only to fill an eventual priority position internally but to keep good levels of satisfaction and retention rates since hiring externally is not an option.

Ricardo von Groll, Manager, Talentify


Enhance Your Website Design and Career Pages

A hiring freeze doesn't mean you will no longer hire new employees in the future. That's why instead of leaving your website and career pages as is, use the opportunity to enhance them and prepare for future recruitment. 

Work with a professional web developer to polish your website design and make it more appealing to both active and passive candidates. This will allow you to attract talents more efficiently once you're ready to outsource skillful people.

Moreover, include in your career pages some of the best assets you can brag about your company. It can be brief clips of your inclusive work environment, photos of your charity events, or an animation that tells the history of your business. The bottom line is you must take as much time as needed and be creative with your career pages to ensure it captures the eyes of future job seekers.

Adam Garcia, CEO & Owner, The Stock Dork


Reallocate Resources to Focus On Internal Development

Reallocate HR resources to tighten up internal performance. During a hiring freeze, HR can focus its time and resources on refining employee satisfaction initiatives, reducing internal churn, and maximizing employee engagement to drive client retention.

HR carries out many duties outside of hiring new talent. Most salient is HR’s responsibility to measure and track employee satisfaction, engagement, and performance. New team-building activities, workflows, or other internal processes that facilitate teams and their work ultimately also benefit customers.

Some examples of improving internal assets or satisfaction might be to audit employees for internal mobility or cross-training opportunities. If any talent stands out, it’s worth flagging and developing programs to help retain and grow them within the company.

Jason Panzer, President, Hexclad


Hold Internal Employee Interviews

HR teams must get creative to keep hiring strong when an employee freeze is instituted. A hiring freeze is an excellent opportunity to discover hidden talent within your employee base. 

Instead of looking externally, hold employee interviews to identify internal candidates for open positions. This is a great way to develop talent from within and improve morale by showing opportunities for advancement within the company, even during a freeze.

Additionally, take this time to reassess your current hiring process and see where improvements can be made. Are you using the most effective recruiting channels? Are your job descriptions clear and concise? An employee freeze can be a chance to step back and ensure your hiring practices are as strong as they can be.

Jimmy Minhas, Founder & CEO, GerdLi


Upgrade Your Applicant Tracking System

Many human resources teams find themselves in a catch-22 during a hiring spree. Their applicant tracking system (ATS) is outdated and is slowing them down, but changing it out during a hiring spree will slow them down ‌when they least can afford it. 

HR professionals should take advantage of a slowdown in hiring to upgrade their ATS and other systems so that they are set up for success when hiring picks up again.

Atta Tarki, Founder & Author, ECA Partners


Build a Talent Pipeline

Take time to sort through resumes you didn't get to and build a talent pipeline. 

Often, when bigger companies advertise for a job opening, they receive more quality applications than they have time to review. In a hiring freeze, HR can get ahead of the game. 

When the freeze ends and the company can bring in new talent again, it's smart for HR to have built a list of candidates that can be reached out to for compatible roles. This saves time down the line and gives fair consideration to good applicants who have previously shown interest in the company.

Vimla Black Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO, Ourself

Reassess Your Current Team's Skills

Use the hiring freeze as an opportunity to reassess your current team's skills and experience levels. This will help you determine where any potential gaps exist and what kinds of roles you'll need to fill when the freeze is lifted. It may also help you identify areas where your team could use some additional training.

Tzvi Heber, Founder, CEO, & HR Head, Ascendany Detox


Encourage Adaptability Across Teams

Your present staff members are extremely valuable, and you will both benefit from encouraging them to be adaptable in unexpected situations. Find ways to use your present workers in cross-functional roles, and recognize their flexibility. Let them know that their efforts and adaptability are valued. 

Offer chances for involvement throughout the day and thank your staff for their hard work. You'll be far more likely to see great outcomes if you can include some ways to let off steam, such as quick team meetings once a week with an activity, or providing additional time off for employees who are feeling burned out or simply need a mental health day.

Jason Vishnefske, President, Santa Barbara Chocolate Company


Offer Upskilling Opportunities

When a company is unable to hire new candidates for a time, HR teams can use this period to offer upskilling opportunities to their existing employees.

Companies typically see employee retention rise when employees see that there is room for advancement, as well as ways to build upon their existing skill sets. This way, if a company needs a person with specific skills but can't hire them right away, they can instead train the right person to fill that role.

Victor Mathieux, Co-Founder & CEO, Miracle Brand


Do a Deep-Dive With Workforce Planning

During a hiring freeze, HR teams can shift their focus to workforce planning. Oftentimes, hiring decisions are made quickly or in response to a sudden need. 

During a hiring freeze, HR teams can ensure that current employees are being engaged sufficiently, identify any gaps, and assess future staffing needs. Through this analysis, HR teams can identify the types of roles that recruitment should focus on when the freeze is lifted. 

This is a great opportunity for HR to evaluate the current and future business goals and create alignment with staffing. This strategic approach will empower HR teams to reenter the talent acquisition space with clearly defined goals that align with the bottom line.

Brittney Simpson, HR Operations Manager, Walker Miller Energy Services


Refine Your Hiring Practices

One way HR teams can use hiring freezes to their advantage is to review and revamp recruitment policies and processes. It can be tricky to update these practices during active recruitment. 

However, a freeze means you can inspect your talent acquisition approach, hiring lifecycle, and interviewing system and make necessary changes without affecting current candidates or splitting your attention between this review and the review of live applications.

Grace He, People & Culture Director, teambuilding.com


Ask Staff What They Would Look for in Future Hires

A hiring freeze presents the perfect opportunity to see what your staff envisions as the perfect hire. 

Survey them, interview them casually and pick out the attributes they would ideally like to see in future hires. 

Hiring freezes don't last forever, and once you're back to it, you'll have a much more defined idea of who would be the best fit within your company's, well, current company.

Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist, Ling App


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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