COVID-19: Changing the Face of Recruiting

coronavirus pandemic hiring staff

Coronavirus is changing how businesses attract and hire great employees. Charles Hipps, Founder and CEO of Oleeo, looks at how the recruitment process is having to adapt to COVID-19 and discusses the opportunities and challenges posed by the pandemic.

Everyday businesses adapt to better suit their environment, whether it’s from new forms of technology, a competitor, or new leadership. However, these changes are usually gradual and bring with them the opportunity to effectively prepare. What we are currently facing is something very different, and something no business could have prepared for.

Businesses have had to scramble to adjust to new social distancing and lockdown measures, and move employees out of offices and into their homes to work remotely. With this in mind, it is easy to see why recruiters and HR teams, who have spent months planning are now unable to operate as they have done previously.

So, how do they find the top talent and keep them engaged? Well, the more traditional routes have to be adapted or forgotten, and new techniques need to be implemented in order to stay ahead.

Virtual meetings

Firstly, people need to better understand virtual events. I appreciate that it seems overwhelming to have to restart the whole planning process, but virtual events are not a last resort, in fact they play a crucial role in attracting and engaging the very best talent.

These events can be telephone or video interviews, with systems like FaceTime and Skype transforming the way in which virtual meetings can work. There is always a sense of pressure when entering unfamiliar territory, but these virtual events can still be easy to manage.

Quality performing recruitment technology enables businesses to automate the interviews and events virtually ensuring good engagement with the very top candidates. By adopting this approach, companies can:

Support the creation of the event as well as managing the attendees

An online event can be created using pre-built RSVP forms or it can be built from scratch then posted and promoted on the company website and through its social media channels.

Use wait lists if space is limited, with auto-placements issued to candidates when spaces become available.

Make it easier for business participants to be involved

Members of the recruiting team can allow business users to participate at the event with just the click of a button.

Provide visibility and transparency

Being digital-led will mean organisations can automate pre-event and on-site candidate registration, using mobile devices that do not require WiFi. This allows them to virtually track sign-ups and capture data in real-time.

Increase candidate engagement and improve post-event communications

Spend time nurturing the most promising candidates and store instant feedback to alert the business to those classified as ‘priority applicants’.

Communicate with the talent after the event

Businesses can use relationship management tools, such as automatic invitations to post event surveys, to keep in touch with top talent and gather MI on what they actually thought of the event.

For example, Expedia does this successfully through its ‘automated keep-warm strategy’, helping it ensure that quality applicants are not left out in the cold waiting for some form of interaction from the company.

Look at insights to calculate the ROI

By using reporting tools, businesses are able to track effectiveness, cost, team efforts and conversion rates. This helps when wondering whether to run a similar event again, and analyses whether great talent was recruited because of the event.

Companies must remember that this is not an opportunity to present long promotional content about themselves, nor should they putting a camera in a room and hoping people attend.

There has to be a change in thinking surrounding virtual events, as it can have a significant impact during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a more long-term fix too.

Engagement is key

Given the current situation, it is more important than ever to keep the audience engaged. Teams must remember that it isn’t just them making a judgement call, candidates are considering them as a suitable employer.

With this in mind, the way businesses engage with applicants and handle comms around this pandemic are of huge interest.

Intelligent engagement is critical here. Organisation’s need to make sure their employer value proposition (EVP) is clearly visible and demonstrates the company’s commitment to prospering in the face of uncertainty, whilst also looking out for the welfare of its workforce.

Candidates find a lot more meaning in experiences expressed via EVP messaging that they feel invested in and that offer them reassurance. For example, by sharing crowdsourced stories in an employee engagement campaign.

Don’t try and translate everything in one go, deliver it via step-by-step content and trust the audience to absorb it in their own time. Keep people engaged by issuing the relevant content in segments, with a variety of bitesize formats, audience interaction, emotive storytelling and videos, alongside the usual polling, quizzes and Q&As.

Bulk hiring

For some, it’s important to consider how to cope with a need for more workers. One story that caught my eye recently was how Amazon plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US to deal with a surge in online sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon said it would look to hire people who had been working in badly-hit industries such as hospitality, travel and entertainment, as they are now facing many weeks out of work.

Similarly UK supermarket chain Morrisons announced it is to create 3,500 new jobs to expand its home delivery service amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Embedding new processes that automate recruitment and redeployment has the potential to result in millions of pounds worth of savings. This might be through better diversity hiring and spending efficiencies in the long-term, or saving on costs like postage, printing and staffing. It also means companies are able to ensure a better diverse representation in offices that serve diverse communities.

Time is of the essence with such hiring. Marks & Spencer use our technology to speed up the time to hire, now typically taking just three days to move from application to onboarding. It is important to remember that this speed does not mean M&S are foregoing the need for quality, in fact the testing phase and face to face interviews are included within these timescales.

Striking a balance between quality, volume and speed, in a way that keeps customers, employees and business leaders satisfied, is a key talent and business challenge for retailers, and it is essential that recruitment practices take this into account. Such an approach will be essential to recruiters seeking to cope with pandemic-related staffing.

About the author

This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Charles Hipps, Founder and CEO of Oleeo, the leading talent acquisition technology pioneer.

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