In the midst of a pandemic, it’s hard to remember that at some point, the economy will come online again and companies will have to resume hiring—and in many cases, hire for spots that were vacated during the crisis. It’s going to be a big swing, from an economy with talent scarcity to one with potentially high unemployment and a remote work attitude. But how will recruitment planning look after COVID-19?
“I think HR will change drastically in the coming months, particularly in hiring and training,” says Emily Goodson, CEO of CultureSmart, an HR consulting firm.
As you’re prepping for hiring in the future, keep the following strategies in mind:
In the short-term
Have a succession plan
Now, more than ever, companies should be thinking about what happens if their CEO gets sick. Large companies tend to have these succession plans, but smaller operations often don’t document everything, which can leave them unprepared for emergencies.
“They need to talk about who’s going to be making those decisions,” Goodson says. “Outline, in every department, who makes the key decisions and, if that person is sick, who’s going to make them in their absence. I think that’s vital to companies moving forward.”
Get your remote technology online
Being able to offer video interviews will be important. It’s quicker and more efficient, and after months of remote work or video conferencing, recruits will expect that to be an option. But managing a remote workforce requires more than just installing Zoom.
“Yes, virtual interview technology [is important], but aside from that, companies need to make sure their learning can be done virtually and that performance management can be done virtually,” Goodson says. “If you don’t have it, you need to get it.”
Start your hiring patter now
If you wait until your company comes back online to start trying to fill empty roles, you’ll lose valuable time (and talent). Until the economy allows people to get back to work in offices, you should be actively working to fill the roles you’ll need in the future.
“Companies have to keep a steady ‘hum’ on in the public domain,” says Joe Mullings, CEO of the Mullings Group, a search firm in the medical device industry, and CVO of executive recruiting firm MRI. “They need to be on social media platforms, ‘We’re still here, here’s why you want to work with us when we come back online.’”
There’s a significant amount of work that can be done on this before society gets the all-clear. You can be completing initial interviews virtually, doing due diligence and reference checks on candidates and lining up the best talent to come on board. “When we start coming back online, the interviews we do with you are going to be finals,” Mullings says. “So, when that date comes around, my first three weeks are making offers based upon on-site interviews, so I can get my workforce back to work.”
In the long-term
Consider upping your benefits game
This crisis has led a lot of people to be more cognizant of the benefits their company has (or doesn’t have), and many workers may come back to hiring with very structured ideas about the kind of benefits they want and need. Companies may need to be prepared to offer more. That might mean better sick leave policies, more comprehensive health coverage, or other benefits related to people’s well-being.
“Some of the trends in benefits recently have been better education around workplace mental health, anxiety and financial wellness,” Goodson says. “I think the pandemic has highlighted why those benefits are important, so I think, in the long term, you may see plans addressing those areas more.”
Allow remote work
With three out of four Americans on some type of lockdown, there are millions of employees working remotely, and many are realizing that they’re just as productive at home. Many roles will go permanently remote, and companies run the risk of missing out on talent if they can’t adapt.
“The companies that will be best-equipped for hiring are the companies that master the art of remote work,” says Adrienne Cooper, chief people officer of Fit Small Business. “Organizations can be proactive by developing training methods to translate their in-person skills to the online world.”
Consider interim hires
You may have a lot of spots to fill when the economy starts running again, and that’s a daunting to-do at a time when you’re trying to get back up to speed as quickly as possible. You may need to fill some positions on a temp or interim basis.
“I may make a bunch of bad hires if I try to grab all full-time employees,” Mullings says. “Maybe I bring in people who come in for a four- to eight-week period, just to keep the oar in the water. So, I’m keeping the ship moving forward, and perhaps some of those convert to full time.”
Many companies have been very intentional about internal communications during this crisis. That’s been a big win—and is a practice you should carry forward.
“They’re doing them on a more consistent basis, which is all very positive,” Goodson says. “I think CEOs are being asked to be more intentional and to engage, and I’m hopeful that will be a permanent change that we see with HR departments and executive leadership partnering moving forward.”
Adjust your HR policies
If they aren’t already, codify your work-from-home policies. What’s expected of staff members? How will they stay connected and engaged? What platforms will they use to communicate? When is work time versus private time? How will pay and benefits be handled?
“During Desert Storm, we all had to pull together our military leave policies,” says Lisa Chenofsky Singer, an executive coach with Chenofsky Singer & Associates. “There’s always something that goes on, and you’re chasing the tail end of it, but hopefully you bring yourself around pretty quickly.”