Our team at Plus attempts to stay on top of the most current issues impacting the world of talent mobility, and in the midst of a global pandemic, there has been a huge impact. As we see record numbers filing for unemployment here in the United States, we also see that there are employers still hiring during the coronavirus pandemic.

Below, Consulting Services Specialist Michael Nesbit brings us some interesting insights on how COVID-19 is changing the recruiting and hiring process. Take it away, Michael:

Rethinking talent during COVID-19

The question that many are asking right now is about what hasn’t changed because of COVID-19. In a matter of months, businesses and other organizations have had to upend their processes for everything as social distancing, shelter-in-place orders and remote work have become the new normal. Every industry has been affected differently, but one common challenge that all organizations are facing right now is in the area of talent acquisition.

 “The way companies hire workers has fundamentally changed.”

This statement from Fast Company writer Stephanie Vozza encompasses in the simplest form what is happening because of the rapid changes to workplace environments. In the short time that it has taken for COVID-19 to force itself into the way companies operate, the hiring and talent development processes have had to adapt and counter. For many companies, talent strategy has taken the form of hiring freezes due to industry collapse, but for those organizations that are still hiring, the usual approach to finding, hiring and onboarding new talent is no longer viable. Vozza notes that healthcare, logistics, and certain manufacturing and retail markets are having to adapt the most due to huge increases in demand for the services they offer.

Social distancing has shifted the candidate pool to focus more on local talent due to travel restrictions. For companies that rely on face-to-face interviews, “many are pulling back on national or global advertising, limiting their geographic search,” observes Vozza. However, this adaptation is extremely positive for internal candidates, who might have greater access to open positions. Gig workers may also see some benefits as companies look to them to fill temporary and interim opportunities.

“How a company adapts its interview process can be a clue to its culture...”

Restrictions on interpersonal contact have made standard interviews difficult to impossible, but a number of companies are finding new ways to engage with candidates while following social distancing guidelines as much as possible, in many cases giving potential employees a greater glimpse into organizational culture and norms. Zoom and Skype interviews are the new standard, but companies with strong relational cultures are trying to leverage this unique time to build more lasting connections with interviewees. Vozza mentions that companies with regional branches in the candidate’s location are having local employees conduct interviews in the hiring manager’s place, giving potential hires both a contact and a relationship in their home location. Being flexible on start dates and initial working hours is also becoming an accommodation that many companies are offering to candidates to show a willingness to meet individual needs. As Vozza notes:

“The biggest question on people’s minds right now about switching jobs is will their new boss be reasonable if something comes up. By accommodating different comfort levels, companies aren’t just saying they have a good culture; they’re showing it.”

A strong relocation package may also become something that companies begin to rely on for attracting high-quality talent. Because of the uncertainty of moving during or after a major social upheaval such as the COVID-19 pandemic, offering generous relocation benefits that meet the needs of each individual employee may be distinguishing factor for companies. By offering to help a new hire or transferring employee with the mental and financial burdens that moving can create, companies can put their claims into practice, even if the logistics of moving are in flux as the world changes.

However, the talent management process doesn’t end with an offer letter. Onboarding is yet another hurdle that companies are having to approach with current events in mind.

“Onboarding is quite personal. How do you help someone new to the company feel immersed with the business and a part of it?”

This quote, again from Vozza, is the key question for the post-hire phase of talent acquisition. A company may be able to find an incredible candidate who is perfect for a role, but without effective relationship building and immersion in the company’s world, onboarding can devolve into a disorienting and frustrating experience. With many new hires being immediately settled into working at home, companies need to be able to offer high-quality resources that help integrate employees into both their role and their team, and resources need to be easily accessible. Good communication from managers and teammates is also critical for success, both from a workplace and a social perspective. Some managers are using virtual reality office tours for showing new employees around, while others are ensuring that regular video meetings are incorporated into onboarding. Teams are finding creative ways to socialize, whether through daily Zoom or Skype check-ins or through virtual lunches and games. Being adaptable and creative with technology may make or break a company’s ability to manage new talent.

COVID-19 isn’t finished changing the business world yet, but the changes that it forces on us may not all be bad. Companies that are engaging with the talent management process during this time of uncertainty may well find new and better ways to make the often-disliked job-searching process more enjoyable for everyone.

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