Talent Talk: Are You Properly Staffing for Stuff-Gets-Back-to-Normal Day?

The COVID-19 disease, and the measures required to mitigate its human effects, will probably leave our economy in a recession-like state. How deep or shallow that recession is, and how fast we come out of it, depend on the actions we take now. The U.S. Congress understands this, which is why it hammered out a $2-trillion bipartisan stimulus package in a week. There are actions plastics businesses can take right now, as well.

Panic and normal mode on dice
Image: Fokussiert/Adobe Stock

There are a lot of really smart people working on treatments and cures, and the pandemic will end. Although we don’t know the exact date, I’m calling that the time when Stuff-Goes-Back-to-Normal, or SGBTN, Day. While we take our precautions, we must simultaneously be preparing for what comes after. Every day we are taking actions to minimize the toll on our health — we must also act to minimize the toll on our economy.

Many plastics businesses are busier than ever these days, feeding the supply chains for masks, respirators, pharmaceuticals, food packaging, and much more. Moreover, the country is at the apex of a 180-degree turn on understanding how important plastics are to our lives and well-being. On top of that, this crisis has shone a light on gaps in our manufacturing supply chain, which will be good for American jobs going forward.

To the CEOs and hiring managers in plastics, I urge you to continue your hiring processes. If you do, you will be ahead of your competitors on SGBTN Day. If you “pull in the oars” or “pump the brakes on hiring,” you’re going to let a lot of companies ahead of you in line. This is not looking like the great financial recession of 2008, where it took two years or more for many industries to recover. If this is a short, shallow, or V-shaped situation, you will need a production-ready workforce and a leadership team already in place.

Keep in mind we were in a 3.5% unemployment environment just a few weeks ago. Yes, unemployment will spike but those largely are not going to be people with the compounding, molding, extrusion skillset you need. Have courage and commitment to maintain our U.S. workforce through this crisis, and faith that we will come out stronger on the other side.


Paul SturgeonAbout the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Paul at [email protected].

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