From the health issues to the requirements of lockdowns and social distancing, this period of time has changed everything. And it has enormous potential to change how we conduct the hiring process. While right now we’re in the throes of massive uncertainty – and some people are covering their ears at the mere mention of hiring new employees. At some point, we’re going to resume business — if not as usual, then as new.
Companies still need to hire. They may need mission-critical talent now or need to hire so new recruits are trained, ready, and integrated into operations for when business resumes. There may be in an industry that’s actually hungry for more employees. To stay in the horse race, we’re all going to need our workforces. But how do you hire when everyone’s at home, including your recruiters?
Here are 8 strategies that stand out:
1. Avoid Layoffs – If Possible
Companies may want to think twice about shedding employees entirely. You could be losing more value than you save — and will have to allocate considerable resources to replace the workforce reduced. It costs an average of 33% of a lost employee’s salary to find and hire their replacement, a 2017 study found — and that still holds. The average cost of hiring a new employee is still $4,129, as SHRM reported. Think about what happens when you’re back to the new normal and you don’t have the people you need to return to operational success.
You should also consider the cost of replacing talent because you will have to replace them. You’ll have to consult legal and compliance experts as well to make sure you’re not violating labor laws or liable for separation benefits, for instance. While your organization may be taking cost-cutting measures, there are certainly industries that are ramping up hiring.
2. Consider Alternatives
If there is an alternative to layoffs, consider it, from retooling (if it’s feasible) to furloughs and reduced hours. A late March Gallup survey on workplace disruption reported that 40% of U.S. employees say their employer has frozen hiring, while 33% say their employer has reduced hours or shifts because of COVID-19. Smaller businesses can apply for COVID-19 support and the PPP program if needed.
3. Commit to Great Remote Interviews
The best recruiters are almost aggressive about learning new habits, gaining the knowledge, and mastering the technology they need to compete. So, own the remote interview process: upgrade the tech and test it in advance; organize the interview and script out questions. If the interview involves multiple people, manage that carefully. If you are leading a hiring team, make sure they have the right tools and training to ace the remote interview process. The experience of an interview, particularly when there is no chance of going to the actual workplace, counts tremendously. Awkward or tedious interviews will convey the message that work culture at this prospective employer is likely lacking.
4. Prioritize Candidate Experience
During COVID-19, the candidate experience should be top of mind. People are stressed, sensitivities are high, and the hiring process is new (to many). Empathy and good communication are critical for bridging the gap between digital and physical. It’s good video etiquette to maintain eye contact: not a glassed-out stare, but rather looking at the face of the person you’re interviewing and transmitting your reactions clearly. Focus on the person you are interviewing, not the screen or the settings (another reason to have the tech well-rehearsed). Body language is more obvious in this virtual environment, and so is your tone. Make sure you provide time for candidate’s questions and answer them thoughtfully. If you have to get back to them, do it in a timely fashion.
5. Dress the Space
WFH — and HRH (hiring from home) — have created some interesting new behaviors: as in: Why fight the fact that we’re in the kitchen? Instead, embrace it and show the kids/spouse/peloton/pets. But this is a meeting, so go through the formalities. Dress the set and if you’re using the room as a background, make sure the background isn’t cluttered.
6. Dress the Interviewer
WFH casual is still dressed, so wear a great top or shirt. People are already creating new behaviors around remote culture, and that means it’s acceptable to wear sweatpants to the home office — because you can’t see them. But you can’t go casual on top. There’s been an uptick in people buying work shirts, but not pants, a Walmart EVP told a reporter recently. So, refrain from wearing T-shirts.
7. Go Faster
More than 26 million jobs were lost in the U.S. over the last five weeks as of April 23, and this workforce needs to get back to work fast. The smoother and more efficient the hiring journey, the better. Can you shortcut that endless application maze and do better than the average of 3 – 4 weeks to hire? One of the common snags in an application is the need to get questions answered, so make sure you are using AI and chatbots as well as beefing up your FAQ pages. Provide on-demand information and jumpstart the onboarding process with remote materials and coaching.
8. Stay Remote
Hiring employees and bringing them to a workplace that could compromise their health and safety is always an issue; now it’s tantamount to a lawsuit. And no organization without essential workers can overrule a mandatory work from home order.
Yes, COVID-19 is going to inflict some major challenges. It already has and it will continue to and that means we need to keep staying safe. But as far as the business of hiring goes, there is an opportunity here for everyone. If we can lean on technology and accept that there’s going to be a new normal, we can reach the next level, where we are able to recruit and hire remotely, as if we’ve been doing it all along.