This article was originally published on May 11, 2020 in Human Resource Executive. Find the original publication here.
The coronavirus crisis has recreated the world in which we live in unfathomable ways. Social distancing has become a new communal value and toilet paper is practically a new currency. At the risk of sounding glib, it seems our reality is forever changed. But, Rudyard Kipling’s fatherly advice to “keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” would seem to apply. And in the world of human resources, I think it’s especially important that we follow it.
Here are five ways for HR, recruitment and staffing professionals to keep their heads through the coronavirus pandemic, even while others are seemingly losing theirs:
- Communicate Openly and Often. While panic is perhaps too strong a word (or perhaps not), great concern among our workforce extends beyond health. They know the power the economy holds over their employment options and all of us are worried about the impact of coronavirus on the economy. A recent survey from HR Technologist shows most fear the coronavirus will have a negative impact on their paychecks and their job security. Your communications should be accurate, consistent, and honest. You should also update your communications frequently, as the nature of the crisis and its resulting climate shifts day-to-day and hour-by-hour.
- Engage With Your Network Across Many Channels. When the message is as important as ensuring the health and well-being of your workforce as well as your business, you must ensure that everyone hears it – and that means using multiple platforms to deliver the same message. For example, a recent Ceipal survey showed that most recruiters believe that the use of chatbots is critical when reaching out to millennials and members of generation Z. In other words, the message that might be ignored or overlooked by one segment of your workforce via email blast is less likely to fall on deaf ears in another delivery/distribution platform – you need to find out what the best platform is for each segment of your audience and use them all accordingly.
- Anticipate a Recruitment Dip. While prognostication is not an exact science, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to envision a slow-down for hiring numbers through March and early April at the very least. This could change recruitment practices in the near term. The talent pool on the bench is likely to grow as workers are sent home due to shutdowns. Likewise, the overnight explosion of the remote workforce means candidates are likely to be more readily available to interview for the opening recruiters seek to fill. While this would seem a boon for recruiters, you must also keep in mind that many workers are still gainfully employed and will be very nervous about the prospect of leaving existing job security for a new opportunity in the midst of so much uncertainty.
- Ramp Up Remote Capabilities. Yes, there will likely be more candidates available for interviews and perhaps for subsequent placement as well. But, of course, those interviews will have to be remote. Whether it’s Skype, Zoom, or a more HR-specific and feature-rich platform, make sure you are prepared to run all phases of your recruitment practice remotely.
- Survive The Short Term, Plan For The Long Term. While such seismic shifts, as those we’re facing because of the coronavirus, can seem temporary (and many are), it’s important to think about long-term ramifications too. For many in this newly expanded remote workforce, there will be no turning back. If your clients fail to embrace this digital trend, they could be left behind and have a harder time attracting top talent. It’s your job to think outside the box and to help the candidates and clients you work with roll with the changes.
When it comes to your organization’s aggregated assortment of contingency plans, staffing and recruiting through a global pandemic probably never made the list of fully fleshed-out plans. But, remember, if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Now that covid-19 is upon us, it’s time to get moving. While it’s impossible to develop a perfect plan with such fluid timelines as well as so many other variables, there are many steps you can take today to ensure that you and your organization come out the other side of this crisis a little less battered.
As Kipling said, “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”