The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way HR work is done. From telework policies to Zoom meeting protocols, departments have had to respond quickly to a changing work environment.
Hiring new employees during a time of social distancing and economic hardship is one such area. While the economic slowdown has meant hiring freezes and slowdowns at some businesses, others continue to hire.
How can HR offices develop sound policies around hiring during and after the pandemic? What needs to change to hire in an increasingly remote world? What adaptations are necessary and what questions need answers before a hiring process begins?
To help answer those and other questions, here are seven tips on hiring during (and after) the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have Your Technology in Order
As many aspects of the hiring process have moved to a virtual space, it's critical that you have the technologies to support a new way of doing business.
Not only do you need the technologies necessary to manage remote hiring processes, but your staff and hiring managers need access to these tools. Your technology needs to be agile, functional in a virtual workspace and support workflows that may need to change quickly. Now is the time to evaluate your tools for:
- Candidate sourcing
- Recruitment marketing
- Applicant tracking
- Pre-employment assessment
- Virtual interviewing
Digital solutions allow you to operate in shifting norms and support employees and candidates who may be working remotely for extended periods. They also allow you to shift as needed or operate in a hybrid model where some HR employees and hiring managers are working in person and others are working from home.
Firm Up Your Pandemic-Related Policies
Work has had to change on a dime in the past few months. Now is a time to consider several of your policies as they relate to hiring and work. The pandemic is shifting policies in all areas of work. Ensure that you remain compliant with applicable laws by considering the following:
- Applicant and Employee Testing. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance on many COVID-19-related topics. Employers can test applicants after making an initial offer as long employees in a similar job are also tested
- Work from Home. Employers are allowed to require new hires (and employees) to work from home or to delay a start date, especially if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. Employers should also ensure that there are anti-retaliation policies in place for those who do not feel safe working on site if doing so would violate local, state or federal orders regarding nonessential businesses
- Required On-Site Work. Can you decline to hire someone who refuses to work from home or on-site? The answer is best made on a case-by-case. In some cases, the Americans with Disabilities Act's reasonable accommodations factors may come to bear on the decision.
Provide Guidance on Remote Interviews
Many businesses are shifting to virtual interviews, using technologies such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams to engage with candidates and connect search committees.
Is it legal for you to record the interview for those who cannot attend, based on your state's laws on consent? What will you do for candidates who do not have the required technology?
Requiring in-person interviews may become a safety issue and be against reopening guidelines, based on the state's public health mandates. Your business would need all participants to adhere to safety measures regarding distance, contact and mask usage, for example.
Understand the Rapid Changes in the Way Work is Done
Working from home is likely to be with us long after the pandemic is over. A recent survey showed that 77% of employees want to continue working from home at least once a week. Employers feel the same, with a Gartner survey indicating 74% of CFOs planning to shift some work permanently to a home environment.
What does that mean for the hiring process? Your company needs to be transparent with candidates about the work environment going forward. It also means finding new ways to ensure new employees feel connected to their teams, can train accordingly and be a part of company culture from a remote vantage point.
Expect a High Volume of Candidates
With the U.S. unemployment rate at 13.3% and thousands of newly graduated college graduates seeing their job prospects dim, the number of applicants for positions is likely to escalate. A challenging job market means more people who are under-qualified and overqualified will be submitting applications and resumes. This situation has challenges for employers, particularly in the time it takes to sort through candidates. It also means hiring managers may be enticed to go after overqualified candidates to "get a bargain." HR teams need to carefully guide those employees about best practices and the risks of hiring candidates who are not the right match.
Promote the Brand
Now is not the time to overlook the importance of your strong employer brand. Be sure to remain consistent in your hiring goals and values, your commitments to diversity, inclusion and fairness and your messaging. Brands take years to develop and can become undone if there is no consistent application of values, mission and vision.
Communicate the Changes
For departments and divisions that are hiring, take the time to walk them through the changes to policies and procedures for your hiring process. These changes are new and, in some cases, possibly unfamiliar to managers and search committees. That means more upfront and in=process check-ins and reminders for your HR team.
At Axcet HR Solutions, we are here to help businesses navigate the disruptions to the hiring process and the changes facing your business and teams. Our human resources staff are available to help develop policy, implement changes and ensure strong communication practices internally and externally.