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Three COVID-induced shifts impacting hiring

In a previous blog, we covered three steps for preparing the hiring process for when the COVID lockdown eases and the ‘lights turn back on’. Now is the time to prepare the hiring engine by refreshing (or rewriting) job descriptions, revisiting sourcing strategies, and optimizing hiring processes. That way, when it’s time to re-staff, you’ll be ready.

But the world has shifted. Even if the engine is primed and ready to go, you are no longer driving on the same road.

Are you ready to hire within this new world?

Here are three shifts to consider when preparing to hire.

1. Shifted talent pool

With entire industries struggling or temporarily shut down and over 30 million people filed for unemployment, the talent pool has shifted. It has greatly swelled and it’s teeming with talent rich in transferable skills looking to shift out of suffering and contracting industries.

This presents both an opportunity and a challenge.

Talent from other industries or disciplines may not know the job titles or industries to look for when searching, especially if the titles are industry specific. Even if they find the right jobs, they could get lost in unfamiliar jargon and fail to recognize the fit.

To take full advantage of this pool and the amazing talent within it, your hiring process should be:

2. Remote-only hiring

For the foreseeable future, a remote workforce will be the only option for many organizations. And this trend won’t end with the end of the COVID crisis. Even as we settle into the post-COVID world, remote workforces will stay, and with it, the need for hiring remotely.

A silver lining to this crisis is that organizations and individuals have jumped ahead in the ‘future of work’ trends for remote and blended (both onsite and remote) workforces. Benefits such as cost savings by not having to maintain large facilities, time savings by cutting out commutes, expanded talent pools unrestricted by location, environmental benefits, productivity benefits, etc. make remote workforces appealing. Knowing we must be ready for the next pandemic, or other crisis, makes remote workforces required.

To effectively support this new remote workforce, your hiring process should be:

  • Designed to support both fully remote and blended hiring. This includes applicant submission, screening, interviewing, negotiating, and hiring. Include clear explanations of the process for applicants so they know what to expect and put in place support to respond to applicant questions and requests.

  • Flexible to account for a full spectrum of qualified applicants. For example, take into account applicants in different time zones with different levels of technology, and those with disabilities such as the inability to hear, see, or type quickly.

  • Supported through training for hiring managers and the hiring team. Remote hiring steps are similar to the in-person equivalent but do have distinct differences that require training. For example, reading and reacting to social queues, applying expectations for professionalism, and communication strategies all require adjustments.

3. Distancing-friendly onboarding

For organizations that require employees to be onsite, eventually the remote experience will have to transition to in-person. But, thanks to social distancing, the in-person experience is going to require a lot of adjustments before it supports social distancing and safety standards.

Before bringing any new employees (or candidates) into a facility, have clear guidelines and procedures for both the new employee and the rest of the team. Generate clear communications so everyone knows the procedures and train the team on the procedures.

Physical procedures include, for example:

  • What safety products, if any, will you issue to the new employee – masks, sanitizer, etc.

  • What is your mask policy and what happens if the new employee (or candidate) doesn’t have a mask?

  • How will you handle eating and drinking during the onboarding (or interview) process (it’s hard to drink coffee with a mask on)?

  • How will you handle trash? Cleaning up coffee cups, paper plates, and other trash is no longer just a courtesy, it is now a safety policy.

  • How will you ensure the room or facility used for onboarding (or interviewing) has been properly cleaned and sanitized and is now ready for the next occupant?

  • What do you do if the new employee (or candidate) shows up and shows signs of being sick?

Other procedures include, for example:

  • What is the policy for new employees (or candidates) who don’t feel comfortable in physical environments and want to work from home? Note: include a procedure covering jobs that require physical presence where an employee discloses that they must work from home after being hired.

  • If the organization adopted work shifts, what is the policy for which shift new employees get? Take into account the variety of personal situations such as caring for children or other family members, pets, availability of public transportation, etc.

  • If the organization adopts break shifts, what is the policy for which shifts the new employee gets?

  • For employees that require a nursing room to self-administer shots, a place to smoke during breaks, etc. where do they go that ensures both safety and, if required, privacy? How are these facilities properly sanitized between uses?

Bringing It all together

As things turn back on, they will turn on in a world that looks very different than it did pre-COVID. There will be shifts in candidate pools, new expectations for remote processes including hiring, and new standards for on-site experiences. But, if it’s a world you are prepared for, it will also be full of opportunity.

Also keep in mind; ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’ And even then… it may still not be over.

There is a good chance there will be additional periods of lock-down, that the phases of reopening will not all move forward (phase I, phase II… wait no, phase I again), and that this won’t be the last time we face a serious regional, national, or global crisis that disrupts the ability to get to an office or travel. Before rebuilding the staff, have a plan in place for relapses and future crisis. That way you are not left having to go through the scrambled uncertainty again with your next generation of employees.

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