The pandemic has changed hiring as we know it, from the volume and type of candidates we’re seeing to how we interview, hire and onboard them. Hiring managers have had to adapt at lightning speed, reimagining entire staffing strategies within the space of a few months.
In a recent survey of 500 staffing professionals, nearly 90% said they’ve made adjustments to their hiring strategy in the wake of the pandemic. The biggest changes have come in the form of hiring freezes, budget cuts, reductions to recruiting staff and video interviewing.
While some changes are less than ideal and will likely be temporary (i.e. hiring freezes), other practices have proven to be highly effective and will likely stick around even after the virus’s impact has eventually subsided.
Six Hiring Trends You Should Prepare For As We Head Into 2021
In-person interviews were one of the first traditional hiring practices to go out the window with Covid-19, with recruiting teams quickly embracing interviews conducted via video conference. As early as April, 20% of hiring managers said they expected video interviewing to be a permanent shift in their recruiting strategy.
Video interviews offer mostly upside for both candidates and organizations, saving candidates the time and risk associated with interviewing in person and helping companies reduce their cost to hire. Video conferencing platforms have jumped at the opportunity to expand their user bases, offering discounts and other incentives to win corporate business. Microsoft, for example, began offering a free six-month trial of Teams to business clients without a current license.
Video interviews offer a reliable way for hiring managers to get a feel for a candidate’s personality beyond what’s apparent in a phone interview. Facial expressions, for example, have been shown to be a surprisingly reliable means of judging a person’s trustworthiness even absent of any contextual information about them.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Massive, mandated shifts in working arrangements due to Covid-19 have changed the way business gets done, with almost no sectors immune to the pandemic’s impact.
A recent Gartner poll found that 48% of employees plan to work remotely at least part of the time moving forward, an increase of 18 percentage points from before the pandemic. 74% of employers plan to make remote work a permanent arrangement for at least some of their workforce, with tech giants like Facebook and Twitter leading the charge. Even legacy industries like insurance have jumped onboard the remote work trend; in late April, for example, Nationwide Insurance announced plans to close five regional offices permanently while retaining those locations’ workers because the shift to working from home had gone so smoothly.
In the context of hiring trends, remote work and other flexible work arrangements have gone from nice-to-haves to non-negotiables for a large segment of the workforce, namely parents who have been forced to take on the roles of childcare worker and educator with school districts still closed around the country. If flexibility isn’t an option in your organization, some applicants will have no choice but to look elsewhere. HR leaders who respond proactively, however, have a promising opportunity to stand out from the competition when pursuing top talent.
In addition to shifting more workers away from physical offices, hiring priorities have shifted in terms of the type of labor that’s in demand. A survey of more than 700 HR and finance leaders revealed that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers, like freelancers and temporary workers, in order to save on labor costs.
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Organizations are also exploring other alternative solutions to meet their staffing needs while reducing expenses. One such solution is talent sharing, where talent is outsourced either internally to a different department or externally to a third-party company to fill staffing gaps. Another is via sliding pay scales, where employees who volunteer for a reduced workload are paid a commensurate reduced salary (i.e. 75% of the pay for 75% of the work).
Finally, 2021 will see a shift in organizational values that are at the forefront when hiring, with less of an emphasis on efficiency and more on resilience. In recent years, the priority has been on hiring employees who will help the company do things better, faster and cheaper. Moving forward, we expect to see a surge in recruiting strategies that focus more on longevity and on insulating the company from risk.
In-Demand Skill Sets
Not all roles will be equally affected in the post-pandemic hiring era. Roles that are more conducive to remote work, like office-based jobs, will be more insulated from dramatic hiring shifts than those that require an in-person component. We’re already seeing an increased demand for work-from-home-era skills like virtual collaboration and proficiency with digital project management tools. Soft skills like time management and adaptability are also on the rise on an employers’ lists of desired traits.
To keep pace with the shifting workplace landscape, hiring managers will do well to focus less on specific job titles (i.e. sales manager) and more on the necessary skills that will drive innovation and protect critical workflows (i.e. critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to manage a team). The same goes for how you approach internal development; rather than grooming up-and-comers for a specific next role, focus on developing skills that will open a range of career paths that can contribute to your organization’s broader success.
Greater Reliance on Data Collection
Even before the pandemic, organizations were moving toward new methods of employee data collection for information like performance metrics and feedback surveys. Now, two new factors have further catalyzed the push toward more data collection: the rise of remote workers and the need for personal health and safety information. In the Gartner survey we mentioned earlier, 16% of employers said they were using technology more frequently to monitor their employees with methods like virtual time tracking tools, computer activity tracking and monitoring of internal communications.
When collected correctly—for a specific purpose and within the proper legal bounds—employee data can be a valuable hiring asset for competitive organizations. For example, taking a holistic look at employee attendance records, commute time, promotion history and overall productivity can paint a telling picture of employee well-being and likelihood of attrition. Data on the company trajectory and effectiveness of new hires in their respective roles can shed light on potential recruiting issues with culture fit or adequate onboarding.
Protecting employee data is of equal importance to collecting it. Many HR benefits platforms offer anonymization features that strip out sensitive personal details while retaining the information necessary to identify trends. Proper encryption and preventative measures against data breaches are also paramount.
Crisis Response and Employer Brands
If you asked a candidate a year ago about the top factors they considered when forming an opinion about a prospective employer, you’d likely hear them mention things like equitable pay, work-life balance and benefits. How the employer reacts in times of crisis probably wasn’t at the top of many candidates’ minds. That has changed.
The pandemic has revealed a stark contrast between companies with and without crisis response plans when it comes to the impact on their employer brand. Companies that acted quickly in closing offices, scaling up remote work and taking preventative actions have fared much better in the public eye those that dragged their feet or flouted early advisories.
Major League Baseball, for example, faced public blowback and is now in the middle of a lawsuit over its unclear policies on ticket refunds for canceled games in the early days of the virus. Carnival Cruise Lines took a beating in the headlines for failing to take decisive action with infected passengers, resulting in hundreds of additional cases.
An organization’s employer brand has always played a big role in its ability to meet its staffing needs, and now crisis response is a key component of that brand.
Staff Successfully in the Post-Pandemic Era with 4 Corner Resources
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of recruiting as we know it. If you want to not only survive, but thrive in a post-pandemic economy, you can’t rely on outdated methods for finding and attracting candidates. 4 Corner Resources can help you stay on course in the shifting tide, arming you with a staffing plan that will set you up for success in 2021 and beyond.
We help companies of all sizes hire full-time employees, contract-to-hire workers and temporary staffers to meet your needs in a budget-friendly way. We’ll prioritize the skills that are most valuable for the future of your organization, like technology, leadership and problem-solving. We understand that culture fit plays a critical role in the success of every new hire; that’s why we take the time to get to know you as a company before diving into hiring.
Contact us today to schedule your free staffing strategy call. You can also learn more by browsing our areas of specialty and checking out additional resources for hiring managers on our Staffing Corner Blog.