Recruitments in the times of COVID-19

Author: Jitender Panihar
Date: 26 Mar, 2021
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Everything about the last several months have been unprecedented, fearful, and uncertain. However, despite the state of a pandemic and global crisis, economies are still holding up, businesses are continuing, and people are living their normal lives in this new normal. Recruitment during a crisis like this is no easy matter. There have been changes in the hiring needs, the way we hire, and the talent pool available. There has been a paradigm shift in recruitment strategies in terms of numbers, processes, mindsets cycles, communications, etc. A digital transformation has been imperative in continuing business and hiring as well.
While I hope everyone out there is keeping safe and healthy, here is a countdown of a few crucial elements in your recruitment strategies which would be essential to keep your hiring efforts fruitful:

Remote recruiting:

While the world adopted to the new normal, recruiters are grappling with new issues almost every day. And they must regularly come up with creative solutions to unprecedented problems. Recruitment has historically been a very high-touch human process. And thus, their challenges are multifold. They must effectively work from home themselves, fight to source the best candidate in these uncertain times, understand and communicate hiring freeze, conduct virtual interviews, support hiring managers with virtual interviews and debriefs, rescheduling interviews due to tech issues, and onboarding remotely. They are the ones who are instrumental in helping interviewers and hiring managers through this paradigm shift of decision-making mindset. They must be at the top of their game to ensure they have the maximum productivity in the world where budgets and headcount are constantly getting reconsidered. Recruiters will need to be strategic, far-sighted, and flexible in their approach.

Employer branding and Hiring Communication:

Focusing on your employer brand right now will mitigate the sense of uncertainty and make a positive impression on potential candidates and your current employees as well. Although there has been a considerable change in your candidate behavior and media consumption, employer branding approach needs to be tweaked according to what your values stand for and what works during a crisis like this.
Communicating what your organization is doing during these times for the employees and the larger community is highly relevant. Job announcements highlighting that you are still hiring instills confidence in your potential candidates as well. The internal folks also get confidence in the growth and vision of the organization. Full transparency in terms of what we communicate and when do we communicate externally as well as to our internal folks is crucial. This is the time one must be transparent about negative actions like layoffs and furloughs as well.
One also needs to be careful about the tone of communication since the times are sensitive as well. Share human stories, their challenges, and how you helped them overcome those.
Influential storytelling will be at the core of all recruitment branding exercises. These will always have a positive impact on your audience. At MoEngage, frequent COVID appropriate content helping your internal folks with updates, wellness options, etc. has gone a long way in making our employees trust us. Now is the time for empathy and support for each other so communicate more often and effectively. Communications should be built around the themes of stability, hope, and security. Visual imagery around collaboration and teamwork would be a positive change.
Send those achievements and accolades to your offered candidates so that they take pride in the organization they are about to join. Keep the conversation going even with your future candidates and preserve your pipeline.

Emphasis on Diversity hiring:

As remote work gets embraced by organizations around the world, the need for physical infrastructure would eventually vanish leading to an opportunity for those who prefer to be fluid. Remote work will expand the talent pool and open vast opportunities for recruiters. Empowering hiring managers to target a healthy diverse ratio in individual teams and building a pipeline of leaders within the organization is the need of the hour. In a world full of uncertainty, diversity in the workforce will lead to a more resilient team. Even the LGBTQ+ community and the differently abled talent pool could be a great option due to the lack of superfluous barriers.

Virtual Interviewing:

A digital transformation for all processes is imperative for business continuity and so is the case of interviewing. However, this requires a paradigm shift in an interviewer's mindset. In-person interviews due to the synchronous communication process have always helped in building rapport. In a LinkedIn survey, 58% of TA professionals said that a major impact of coronavirus was going to be transforming in-person interviews into virtual ones. However, in a digital world, things need to be revamped to ensure we have a similar impact and choose the best candidate.
We need to be mindful of the fact that not everyone will have great access to tools or the internet, so rescheduling interviews will be a common event. Also, we need to be mindful of the candidate’s familiarity with tech and tech platforms. Be accommodating of tech glitches and audio delays. Your candidate is at home too, along with the family or pets, so also be accommodating of disturbances or occasional appearances in the videos. At MoEngage we believe in tailoring our recruitment tech to improve the candidate experience because whatever process we create today would be the future of recruiting as well. Getting hiring managers to make offers to people they have never met before and will not meet for some more time is tough, but the times need us to keep pace.

Virtual Onboarding:

We do miss the times of one is first day in office, getting to meet new people and new teams, being a part of induction team building activities, and getting queries solved real-time and in person. However, virtual onboarding is a reality and is likely to stay for some more time. There are a few things that need to be sorted to be able to still provide a stellar employee experience during onboarding:
  • Invest in a plan - Logistics, assets, culture deck were all the essentials’ elements in onboarding, they still are. Providing the asset, tech support, list of communication tools, and resources will make your new employee feel empowered. Make sure your onboarding checklist is detailed. Do not forget to add that personalized touch to the onboarding kit that you send or present during onboarding. This always adds that feel-good factor. Candidates need to have a clear understanding of who they are supposed to reach out to in their initial days for support.
  • Get the team involved - Introducing to the team in person would have been the best part. However, with the given conditions, an ice breaker with the entire team is a mandate to make sure the new employee feels a part of it. Assigning a buddy for the initial days has worked well at MoEngage. Arrange for virtual coffee meets for the teams often to ensure continued cohesion. Hiring managers also need to stay involved in the onboarding process.
  • Engage from the start - This world needs a revamp on how we engage our employees and even during the initial days. You might need to draw a balance between how much information you want to share during the onboarding to not make it boring. However, it is important to ensure your new employee knows most about the organization and the team and the work that he is going to be a part of during the onboarding itself. It would be great to add quizzes/polls/visuals/short videos in your sessions to make them more engaging.
  • Culture since Day1 - Now that the physical boundaries of an office and in-person togetherness is missing, we need to make sure, we do our best to make the new person induct in our culture. Make sure she/he knows what works at your organization, what are your core values, and what is your decision-making process.
  • Ask for feedback continuously - While we are all new to virtual onboarding, it would be great to get feedback and work on those areas to improve the processes. The conversation should continue till the first few months of joining the organization to understand specific needs and support.
  • Getting the onboarding/orientation right will make your employees feel welcomed, engaged, and supported.

Biography of the Author

Jitender Panihar is the Chief People Officer at MoEngage Inc., Bengaluru. He comes with a rich experience of more than 12 years of delivering change and transformations across Indian & APAC geographies. His specialties include- HR Strategy, Organisation Design and Restructuring, Leadership Development and Alignment, and Talent Management. Prior to MoEngage, Jitender has worked with major companies like- Healthkart.com, PwC, and Deloitte. A recognized professional, he has been named among the Top 100 HR Minds in India 2018 by World HRD Congress and Top 100 Training & Development Minds in India 2018 by World HRD Congress. Jitender has also been recognized as an HR Rising Star of the Year 2018 by the HR Association of India.
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