Around mid-March, so many roles were put on-hold. Offers were retracted and start dates were pushed back indefinitely. After about a week or so of silence, some organisations pivoted, understanding they needed to find innovative solutions to the new reality. The way some companies searched for talent, approached interviewing and on-boarding all changed. Social distancing shocked the recruitment process in a number of ways and the level of impact depends on the industry. Some sectors like travel and hospitality were immediately very heavily impacted. Certain parts of the health sector received a blow, with other parts of industry experiencing a massive increase in response to fighting the crisis. There was a huge surge in requirement for healthcare and supermarket retail workers.
There will be many changes to the way we operate and live after this crisis has subsided and that includes the method companies use to recruit, which has been fundamentally transformed.
Internal Talent & Contractors
The Konnexus team as a whole has had many conversations over the last number of weeks with both Australian and International businesses. Social distancing has resulted in a number of changes to the ways employers approach and penetrate the market. Many organisations had to move away from advertising nationally or internationally, restricting their searches to the local geographic area. Another shift has been the larger focus on internal candidates, many of whom are being presented with the opportunity to step-up or diversify after external hiring was frozen and filled gaps. There has also been an increase in opportunities for contractors and temporary staff members joining companies who paused their permanent hiring process, but needed to fill the gap on an interim basis.
Permanent recruitment is still taking place, shifting from person-to-person and moving to platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. It has been a relatively seamless transition, people have effortlessly moved to video interviews.
How companies have adapted can sometimes be a signpost to their culture. In the early stages of COVID-19, some clients were allowing the candidates to opt out of face-to-face interviews and being flexible around the process based upon the candidate’s comfort level. When the more stringent Level Three restrictions kicked in on Monday 30th March, businesses adapted again. Some companies became flexible on start dates; others showed their flexibility in other ways (initially reducing hours or offering a mixture of working from home and attending the office on rotation).
The biggest question for people searching for a new job at the moment is what level of flexibility is there? How accommodating will new bosses be around home-schooling and working from home on a full-time basis? By being flexible, companies are really showing they have a strong culture and live by their values, not just saying it.
We have placed a number of candidates recently and the on-boarding process has become virtual too. The biggest challenge to managers with new starts is how to best engage with a new team member. When you on-board, part of the process is building rapport and connection, managing the emotions a new role may cause and when this has to be done remotely, it is testing.
Some companies are able to offer virtual-reality technology to give candidates the guided tour of the location. At the very least, regular videoconferencing is essential. Creating a sense of team, camaraderie and sense of belonging comes from giving clear information, being decisive and providing strong direction and leadership. You may only be speaking to them for up to 30 minutes of their working day, when in the office they would be interacting constantly. You need to ensure you are providing plenty of data, with scheduled conversations throughout the day and wider working week. Routine and consistency are essential for it to work.
We have all had to adapt almost instantly. Some of the new recruitment processes may become an ongoing fixture. Working from home for some businesses was viewed with derision, and now almost everyone has had to embrace it quickly. There has been a massive shift in working practices and this had impacted the interviewing process and hiring. It has required people to place themselves far outside their comfort zone, garnering a greater level of trust. Manager’s have had to adapt their style, creating new ways to manage varying personalities and different strengths of relationship.
No doubt the legacy of COVID-19 is that employers will have had first-hand experience of teams being productive at home. Some companies may consider the future reduction of substantial overheads (such as a huge office) or feeling the burden of providing a constantly engaging environment, especially if they have not seen a significant impact on productivity.
Whatever the outcome, we will definitely see a seismic shift in the perception of working from home and some companies (and families) will benefit massively, finding new ways to work and embracing innovative technologies as they emerge. In the next year or two, the recruitment process will look very different.
Watch this space.