It’s often said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” COVID made it necessary to find different ways to do business…and some of those “inventions” may be around for a while.
Earlier this year, I posted an IdeaXchange blog discussing trends in hiring focused on issues like generations and diversity. These are really evergreen issues that are always with us, even though the ways we deal with them keep changing. However, there is another issue that makes the trend conversation unique.
There is no question that COVID-19 has been both catastrophic and disruptive, both in people’s personal and work lives. Fear, isolation, insecurity, and other emotions have roiled all of us. But yet, while the pandemic raged, businesses still needed to ensure continuity and positions needed to be filled. Doing this during a time when people were working remotely posed some issues. So, how did companies respond and would they continue to use these methods going forward?
- Look to virtual – Whether it’s interviewing, onboarding, or training, companies have been turning to the internet and specific platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others to handle all of these aspects of the hiring practice. To be fair, this was being done before the crisis but on a much smaller scale. The benefit that companies now see is a reduction in cost and time for the company and the HR staff.
Bringing in a candidate can be expensive if the company covers those expenses and prohibitive if it needs to be handled by the candidates themselves. This is especially true during the interview stage where you speak with many more candidates than you are likely to hire. Obviously, this won’t work for every position, but for the ones that do, look to companies to continue to use and even expand this virtual approach.
- Be flexible – Again, COVID required companies to evaluate how to keep their workforce safe. For many, that meant remote working. Again, not every company can make this possible. Essential workers are essential for a reason. But, for companies that are able…consider this: According to an article in SHRM, “A majority of North American employers expect that most of their furloughed workers will return to work by the end of the first quarter 2021. Nevertheless, more workers will continue working from home on a permanent basis than before the COVID-19 pandemic.” Meanwhile, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research, the fear of loss of productivity from working at home proved the exact opposite. The productivity metric showed that workers were just as productive as they were in the office, if not more so. And a Gartner CFO survey showed that more nearly three-quarters (74%) intend to shift employees to remote work after the crisis ends…and intend to make it a permanent shift. This move actually helps with recruiting younger workers, from millennials through Gen Z and beyond. These generations often value flexibility in location and hours above other issues like salary.
- Shift to technology – Technology is always changing, but the pandemic has accelerated the move to automation and AI, including what are normally considered blue-collar jobs in warehouses and manufacturing plants, as well as in call centers. This will only increase as companies evaluate the ROI of investing in these technologies. In turn, this will change the skillsets necessary for new hires. It will be essential to communicate to candidates the exact requirements necessary to work at the position. This may force education to rethink how and what they teach students well into the future.
Ultimately the biggest change in the way companies recruit and work may be in their need to expect the unexpected – If we’ve learned nothing else, we have learned that we don’t have control over every situation…however, after COVID and major storms, we should be able to create disaster plans for health and weather crises. Every company truly needs to develop recovery plans should any disaster occur. We’ve learned that life is very adept at throwing curveballs our way.