The COVID-19 pandemic has caused turmoil with our work environments these last weeks and has had a major impact on how companies are recruiting new talent. Employers and their HR teams have had to use more innovative methods to hire and onboard new recruits while also simultaneously providing support for their employees as they transition to remote work.
That’s why we assembled a panel of senior HR, Finance and Operations experts from across Corporate America to get a better understanding of how recruitment activities have been impacted and the challenges COVID-19 is presenting when it comes to attracting, on-boarding and retaining talent.
We asked our panel 5 key questions related to the impact of COVID-19 and will be serializing this session over the coming weeks. In this second video our panelists reveal that hiring has still been taking place even during the height of the pandemic. To find out more about the hiring hotspots and how recruitment has continued in these challenging conditions, do watch the video now:
Our thanks go to our expert panel members for their time and for sharing their insights so openly:
Jenn Ryan – SVP Operations – Xometry
Douglas Krieger – Director Global Sourcing – Herbalife
Julie Bank – SVP Human Resources – Brighton Health Plan Solutions
John Rorick – VP, Client Services – AgileOne
Steve Lagnado – CFO – Insider Inc
How has the pandemic affected you in terms of hiring and how has it changed the focus going forward?
When the pandemic struck, the business operations of a lot of companies were thrown into disarray. The SVP Human Resources of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, Julie Bank, talked us through the challenging phase of shifting from office to remote work – something the business was unprepared for and found it had to implement within a remarkably small window of time. “It’s been such a whirlwind, but we were hit very early on… We made the call that we were going to close the office, a few hours later, we were instructed that we would need to close the office” Julie recalled.
“We had to deploy an office that was not set up for virtual work to be a virtual work environment. I’m talking about calls and claims staff with dual monitors, towers. This was not an organization that was ready to go virtual. But we got it done. Thanks to our superior IT team and a lot of – 48 hours of – really long nights where we were deploying machines to individuals, we got an office of 40 people working by Wednesday. We got the call on Saturday and by Wednesday, I had everyone phased in. By Wednesday, everyone was working remotely, so we got it together pretty quickly.”
In the midst of all the chaos, being forced to transition to work remotely in such a short period of time, Julie insists that working from home has been shown to have its own benefits. She explains that her company now has promising candidate pools in locations where they typically wouldn’t have recruited from. Despite having leaders who used to be fiercely against remote work, the realization that being remote would enable them to tap into people with competencies across the country is a change they are ready to accommodate going forward.
How is the pandemic affecting in-demand skills and the ability to make the perfect hire?
As companies gradually resume their hiring activities (for organizations who had put recruitment on hold because of the pandemic), there are clear signs that hiring managers and recruiters will be looking for different skill sets and looking to recruit from a much broader pool of candidates as location isn’t as key when you’re recruiting people to work virtually.
Jenn Ryan, the SVP Operations of Xometry explained how their recruiters are now more focused on candidates with skills that can be optimized for remote work. “We’re looking for people that are broader. We need people who can identify when you’re working remotely, you need to be able to identify a need and move toward it, even for an individual contributor. So I think we’re spending more time on how the person approaches work rather than looking at a boilerplate set of credentials. And we’re really doing more situational interviewing to look for that.”
Not only is the pandemic disrupting traditional recruitment strategies, from the interview to the on-boarding process, it is also going to change the very questions asked during interviews. Julie Bank projects that post COVID-19, more candidates are going to ask recruiters questions regarding how successful an organization was during the pandemic. People will want to work with companies they can trust to look after them before they consider joining your team – and the pandemic has really made this a focal point.
Are you an employer of choice? How do you treat your people? How are you planning on protecting people going forward in light of COVID? What did you do and how did you lead during this change? These are what we consider “the questions of the future” in the recruitment landscape and recruiters (as well as employers) should be able to confidently answer these questions because it’s going to tell a lot about you (the organization) and what you were able to accomplish in a very stressful time.
Following the pandemic, it is likely and expected that more companies will have a contingency plan in place that will help them prepare and better ready themselves to handle the effects of a pandemic like this and other unforeseen circumstances in the future. Julie Bank did admit that while her company had contingency plans, they didn’t have one to cover a pandemic of this scale. “We have a task force. We had it. But, we did not have it for a pandemic that was going to wipe out every single office that we had – and that was the gap. We weren’t prepared for this; that in a minute, every office was down.”
The pandemic still needs to fully play out and it’ll probably be years before we fully understand all the ways in which it’s impacted our workplaces and the jobs market. But one thing is certain, this pandemic is going to change employee and employer behavior – together with their respective priorities – and in all likelihood there will be some very interesting changes in the world of work that come about as a result of this.