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Should You Hire During a Slowdown?

hire during a slowdown

More than 60% of companies need more employees to manage workload, but many aren’t hiring due to recession fears. This is a 180-degree spin from the rapid-fire hiring companies did just a few months ago. There’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck, though. On the one hand, it’s wise to ABR (always be recruiting). On the other hand, you don’t want to run the risk of overhiring. So, should you hire during a slowdown? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out.


These are strange times indeed. In the past, hiring slowdowns came with high unemployment and a power shift for compensation and perks. But on the heels of the Great Resignation, job seekers still hold plenty of power.

For one, we’re seeing the largest pay increase for workers in 15 years, with an average increase of 4%. The reason for this bump doesn’t fall squarely in the hands of inflation. New ways of working and increased competition in the job market are causing companies to readjust their hiring practices and salary budget continually.

The effects of the pandemic and the shift to remote work cannot be ignored. Owl Labs reported that 90% of full-time workers feel as if they are more productive working from home and another 74% said that remote work is better for their mental health (some even saying they’d take a pay cut to stay remote).

People who recently changed jobs during the Great Resignation found they had the upper hand regarding bargaining power and may be happy to stay put for a while. Companies who think they can return to the old ways of doing things will find it hard to find and retain staff.


A startling 22 million jobs were lost early in the pandemic. People were laid off, took early retirement, or switched industries and careers entirely. To fill these job vacancies quickly, employers have been hiring at historically high rates and often filling positions with unseasoned, untrained workers.

Hiring new employees always comes with certain risks, necessitating the need for well-thought-out and implemented training programs. What’s more, training to meet customer service goals is one thing; but training for safety is critical. More than one-third of work-related injuries occur in employees who have been on the job for less than a year. If those employees are between the ages of 16 and 24, their risk for injury doubles.

With tightened budgets and a lack of employees, dedicated trainers can be hard to come by. Higher-level employees are being tapped to show others the ropes, productivity is declining, and stress is increasing. To lighten the load, employers should consider outsourcing training to a staffing partner.

“Hiring a staffing partner is a great tool during times of change,” says Stephanie Grubbs, Regional Managing Director of The HT Group General Staffing Division. “They can offer training and management—even onsite—to help expedite the process responsibly so that you utilize your resources better while the staffing shortage rages on.”

All this can take time, however, and waiting to hire, onboard, and train when you need help the most can be a devastating mistake.


Our economic climate has many employers thinking they shouldn’t hire during a downturn in order to avoid the risk of overhiring. It’s understandable as we recently watched many large brands like Peloton and Glossier lay off employees. But there are ways to prevent overhiring mistakes, including:

Keeping focus on the core business. Shiny object syndrome can devastate a company, as Glossier recently discovered. If your product or service lines are losing focus, it may be time to call an advisor to help clear things up. 

Thinking ahead. Peloton has repeatedly fallen prey to ramping up when they’re hot with very little consideration for what will happen when the trend stops. Market trends ebb and flow. Hire with that fact in mind.

Focusing on quantity when hiring during a slowdown. Rather than focusing on quantity, think about quality. Find candidates with crossover functional skillsets. “This will safeguard employees leaving due to lack of structure or being forced out because their one purpose for being there faded away,” says Paul McGaughan, Practice Director of The HT Group Technical Recruiting.

Considering a different hiring strategy. Hiring temp-to-hire or contract workers can ease some of the risks you take when you hire during a slowdown. Doing so allows you to fill jobs quickly without the long-term commitment that comes with direct hires.

Hiring stops-and-starts come with consequences. Even when facing uncertainty, employers that hire during a slowdown with a smart, measured approach are the ones who come out ahead. The HT Group recruiters can help.