The talent space is a fickle, volatile corner of the business world. When a corporate crisis strikes, it is often one of the first to suffer.
This is precisely the scenario we find ourselves in as a result of COVID-19. Not only is there a newfound reluctance from candidates to seek new professional endeavours during this time, but equally, many employers are now unlikely to commit financially.
What’s more, it is perfectly possible that the legacy of the pandemic could alter the complexion of the talent space for years to come.
Organisations must be mindful of how they will approach the issue once the virus has passed, ensuring that they have the right tools and the smartest approach to acquiring new talent once again.
In fact, global talent shortages were already reported to be at record highs prior to the pandemic, with 54% of companies complaining of not being able to find enough skilled applicants to meet demand. The current scenario may complicate this even further.
For some further perspective on what the world of recruiting might look like post-pandemic, we spoke with Katrina Collier, The Searchologist and author of The Robot Proof Recruiter.
“Many will find their role redundant as companies fight to survive and, in some areas, there will be many more people available,” she said.
“However, those people with skills that are in-demand will be more challenging to recruit than ever before.”
With the level of uncertainty that resides in the corporate world during this time, this is not a difficult scenario to envision.
For instance, one survey conducted during the build-up to Brexit found that nearly 50% of respondents cited reassuring candidates as one of their biggest challenges in navigating through the disruptive period.
Collier goes on to identify company reputation and employer branding as key elements in countering this uncertainty.
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“Companies will need to work on their reputation before they can commence to hire,” she said.
“Candidates will be more fearful to change roles and recruiters will need to listen carefully, provide empathy and use their powers of persuasion to reassure people that it is okay to move.
“Some may even flatly refuse to work in an office again.”
But of course, optimising employer branding can be a lengthy discourse that spans beyond just reputation.
Collier proceeds to identify some further potential focus points for leaders in preparation for this new era of recruitment.
“The plus side of this crisis has been unexpected breathing space,” she said. “Leaders and decision makers have had the time forced upon them to stop and reassess the direction they are heading.
“Many companies have discovered that their workforce can work remotely and flexibly and that they can reduce their company’s impact on the environment and improve their employees’ mental health. These can be selling points for recruiting in the future.”
This is a view very much founded in research. One study found that 99% of respondents said they would like to work remotely at some point, and another reported that 67% said they would quit their jobs if their workplace became less flexible.
Where employer value proposition is concerned, flexibility, freedom and work-life balance are undeniably strong selling points, and many more organisations will now be poised to offer that.
“Everyone is being woken up to the impact we have had on the planet and is discovering new and often better ways of working.”
Another solution for leaders and organisations in the midst of crisis is increased transparency and communication.
For instance, a Deloitte study earlier this year found that 66% of those who plan to leave their organisations also reported ineffective communication in the workplace.
Collier echoes this principle in her own analysis. “There has scarcely been a better time for leaders to develop better communication,” she said.
“Transparency is reigning supreme to keep employees engaged and attract new recruits in the future.”
She goes on to integrate her earlier point concerning employee reputation, suggesting that leaders should encourage their workforces to share with the wider world how they are being looked after.
Ultimately, with the business landscape currently changing at such an alarming rate, many organisations are likely to face repercussions if they do not adapt their approach to recruiting post-pandemic.
Collier concludes by outlining some of these potential consequences, positing that a more compassionate and “uniquely human” approach will create a better connection between employers and candidates.
“Any company that thinks its people are going to return to working in the manner they did before is in for a shock,” she said.
“Some people cannot wait to get back to the office whilst others never want to go back. Being inflexible in this regard will certainly impact engagement, retention and recruitment in a negative way.
“Take the time now to consider how you can work in the future and run through the recruitment process in the eyes of a candidate, and make changes to match this need for flexibility.”
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For more on effective recruiting amidst crisis, check out Katrina Collier’s brand new programme, The Robot-Proof Recruiter Mastermind