How COVID-19 will reshape the future of recruitment

By Robert Half on 30 June 2020

The impact of the Coronavirus has changed the future of recruitment in ways almost unimagined just a few short months ago. Social distancing has forced companies to cancel in-person interviews and replace them with video, and flexibility has become the new normal as more people work from home.

And while the virus may be temporary, its effects on recruitment will be anything but.

So, what are the key ways in which these changes have impacted recruitment? And how should company leaders plan for this new employment landscape?

Video interviews are just the tip of the digitisation iceberg

Due to social distancing rules, more companies are conducting job interviews by video. While it’s not a new concept, it means hiring managers will need to familiarise themselves more with the technology and modify their interviewing processes to fit this new medium.

That may mean conducting a few ‘mock’ interviews first to ensure any potential technical problems are smoothed out. Having a simple and uncluttered background will help participants stay focused on the questions. Finally, reserving 20 percent more time for video interviews gives participants a chance to deal with any communication issues.

Video is just one example of the growing reliance on technology taking place within recruitment. As social distancing continues to place limits on personal contact, electronic agreements, application tracking systems (ATS), secure virtual workspaces, remote onboarding, and more will also grow in importance as the different elements of recruitment adopt an increasingly digital-first approach.

Virtual onboarding could be the future of recruitment

An effective onboarding process for new hires generally improves employee engagement and productivity, speeds up learning and boosts staff retention. This applies equally to staff who will work partially or completely remotely, as it’s also important they feel welcome, supported and are well-equipped for their role.

A remote onboarding process should not skip over any of the key steps that make in-office onboarding effective. This means any remote onboarding plan must include things like introducing the new employee to their new colleagues, scheduling an in-depth discussion of their duties and expectations, and giving the new employee regular opportunities to ask questions and share their progress.

Keeping the lines of communication open is also absolutely critical while onboarding remote employees, as it will help them feel engaged and integral to the team. A good approach is to nominate a mentor who can be easily contacted by the new hire if they have any questions about their role and duties. The new employee’s manager should also be readily available, to ensure that any issues with the employee’s technology or work environment are quickly addressed.

Did you know that Robert Half can provide your business with virtual opportunities to interview top candidates? Contact us to find out more.

Temporary and contract staff will become more essential

Temporary and/or contract hiring has been a popular strategy within many companies during the pandemic, allowing them to staff up and down quickly and cost-effectively. In the foreseeable future, we can expect to see more employers adopt flexibility in favour of temporary hires as a way to make their business more resilient and productive in an environment of continued – and often unpredictable - change.

Working with a flexible workforce also has the benefit of significantly increasing the size and diversity of the talent pool available. In doing so, it’s important to keep in mind that every temporary employee might also have the potential of eventually becoming a permanent employee, so it remains important that you provide all employees, both permanent and temporary, with a friendly and helpful onboarding experience.

Hiring budgets will need to be more flexible

What does this mean? Basically, companies will need to be ready to hire if and when required, but they also need to be prepared for any sudden downturn in demand for their products or services. Therefore, it’s important to structure your hiring budget to account for this uncertainty.

Keeping some HR budget in reserve is always recommended, as this will allow you to search for and hire new staff quickly. As part of this expenditure, companies will need to focus on building a solid talent pipeline, so that they can respond quickly when the need to hire comes up. This keeps the company agile and adaptable, and helps prevent situations where it is difficult to attract or afford talent.

Time to hire will remain critical

The number of jobseekers is expected to rise further in many employment markets after support schemes for furloughed workers run their course and some companies are unable to rehire those employees.

This increased candidate volume will give companies more choice of talent but can also slow down the hiring process as more applications need to be reviewed. To secure top talent, companies will need to ensure they can hire the right people quickly and are offering competitive pay and incentives.

Professional development will be a bigger focus

With leaner HR budgets, companies are expected to increase their focus on professional development of their current staff, in tandem with to making new hires.

With ongoing digital disruption and changing customer expectations and expenditure patterns, having a clear overview of the required technical or soft skills you can, or cannot, develop in-house is vital to maintain a talented workforce. Conducting an internal skills audit can inform your employees’ training and development plans, and help you develop a forward-looking recruitment strategy.

Looking ahead

The future of recruitment may look more flexible and unpredictable, as both public health concerns and new remote working technology remain prevalent. However, companies that are willing to adapt and innovate in response to this new landscape will likely prevail in times of uncertainty.

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