How has COVID-19 changed the face of recruitment?

The current pandemic has changed many aspects of HR – from terminations to health and safety

How has COVID-19 changed the face of recruitment?

The current pandemic has changed many aspects of HR – from terminations to health and safety – but perhaps the most touched by the current state of affairs is recruitment. 

HRD spoke to Judene Pretti, director of the Work-Learn Institute (WxL) University of Waterloo, and the speaker at HRD’s "The Future of Work & Your Talent Pipeline: What is COVID-19 Teaching Us?", Pretti revealed exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of recruitment.

“I think there were immediate concerns across many sectors about what the economic impact of COVID-19 was going to be for organizations – and those concerns impacted recruitment directly,” she prefaced.

“For many organizations, there was a pause in their recruiting activities until they could figure out the short-term and medium-term impacts for their existing employees. Where recruitment activities continued, or when they resumed, there was a need to shift to more online interviewing, a trend that had been increasing, but COVID-19 necessitated a fast scaling up of those processes.

“A significant way that COVID-19 has changed the face of recruitment is by opening up a global talent pool in ways that haven’t been fully explored. Many organizations, through forced work-from-home practices, have discovered aspects of their work that can be done effectively in a remote setting. In making that realization, organizations have opened up potential new ways to access talent.

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“As far as screening potential employees, the criteria that have been important in the recruitment process – the ability communicate and work in teams, as well as a mindset for learning – has continued to be important. With the increase in remote work, there has been an increased need for technical skills and self-direction.”

As recruitment has become more complicated, and less assured, HRD wanted to know what other issues had become more prominent and which has diminished in the eyes of the C-Suite.

“The issues facing HR professionals will have varied substantially during the pandemic based on the sector they work in and the size of their organization,” added Pretti.

“For large knowledge/technical based organizations, the work of the organization may have been able to move online relatively smoothly. In those organizations, the challenges for HR professionals were centred on supporting managers and workers to set up home offices, figure out how to continue working productively and help employees balance the challenges of working from home with additional responsibilities (e.g. children completing online school).

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“The situation was very different in smaller organizations where it was not possible to move work online, and in those cases, HR professionals were working with management to determine what layoffs would need to happen. It would also be different for organizations involved in essential services where HR professionals were involved with developing health and safely protocols for staff who were continuing to work.”

The only way of really being safe in throughout this pandemic is through preparation. Future-proofing your people strategy now is the only way to really weather the storm ahead. As Pretti told HRD, advocated looking at what we’ve learned during the pandemic so far – and trying to elevate those findings.

“I think COVID has given us the opportunity to challenge assumptions about the way we work and how employees and organizations adapt to change,” she explained. “While it hasn’t been an easy transition for most, it is remarkable to look at the ways that work has changed in the past five months and what we have learned along the way. I think we can use what we’ve learned as we think about future proofing our strategies. What did our organization do well? Where were our biggest challenges? How did the strategies we have in place help/hinder us from being successful through this time of change?

“With respect to talent strategy, I have to put a plug in for work-integrated learning programs. Our research has shown us the many ways that co-op students adapted alongside the teams they were working with – highlighting how they were able to jump in and identify ways to support their organizations in these challenging times. We also saw many examples of students’ adaptability and resilience in the face of the pandemic and their continued desire to make meaningful contributions to organizations.”

Uplift your recruitment and talent strategies with the University of Waterloo’s webinar

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