How 2020 changed the hiring process forever

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Here, James Lloyd-Townshend, Chairman and CEO of Tenth Revolution Group, explores how talent management strategies have evolved due to COVID

The fallout from the global pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our lives. We’ve had to adjust, adapt, and reconfigure what normal looks like in so many ways, and not least in the workplace.  

Though the crisis is far from over, many businesses are now regrouping after the initial economic impact. Those organisations looking to assess their processes and rebuild their teams in the coming months could be about to find out that hiring has transformed quite dramatically.

Discussions around the future of work continue, but there’s no getting away from the fact that our day-to-day working lives have already changed.

The normalisation of remote work is the most obvious one—working from home is not just something that your techie friends get to do anymore. Workers from every industry, in a massive range of different roles, have seen remote work shift from a hypothetical perk enjoyed by freelancers to a practical part of life; a vital tool for keeping people safe.

Home workstations have less of a temporary feel about them than they did a few months ago. Ironing boards have been swapped for proper desks, and makeshift chairs have been exchanged for ergonomic replacements, as businesses increasingly embrace home working as a long-term fixture.

But the refining of our home office spaces isn’t the only sign that working, and hiring, are changing.

Adapting to changing expectations

For those looking to recruit in the short- or even medium-term future, certain considerations need to be taken into account. Since home and flexible working gained wider prominence earlier this year, many people have come to value the freedom and improved work-life balance that these approaches allow. Remote work isn’t everyone’s first choice by any means, but many workers are seeing how much having a little flexibility—or simply ditching the commute—can improve their lives.

From now on, there’s no doubt people will anticipate some element of remote or flexible work to continue. For much of the workforce, the long-term solution will likely be a hybrid model, a mixture of remote and in-office working that benefits both employees and businesses as they look to trim overheads.

What is clear is that now that employees have seen that remote work is possible in so many workplaces, taking what many see as a perk off the table will only hamper an organisation’s recruitment efforts. The wider acceptance of flexible working will lead to shifting expectations. Those employers who snap back to traditional ways of working, with no room for flexibility, will find themselves missing out on great talent. Today’s workforce doesn’t just want more money; great talent looks for purpose, flexibility, and trust, so if you can offer remote working, do.

Planning ahead

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that business continuity and resilience is key. Hiring the right people and having the right skills in place has never been more important than it is now, but what those necessary skillsets actually look like is shifting.

The global health crisis has changed the way we live, work, consume, and access services. Businesses have been forced to make giant leaps forward in terms of their technological infrastructure. As the world goes digital at breakneck speeds, tech skills are increasingly essential to the business-as-usual operations of even traditionally “offline” companies.

As a result, businesses need to reassess the kind of skills they’re looking for to make sure that, whatever the external circumstances, they have people with the experience required to operate their new systems.

We’ve witnessed first-hand this year how quickly things can change. It’s simply not practical to rely on external hires to patch over every single skills gap that crops up in a business as industries continue to adapt.

That means that organisations need to think about hiring for potential and adaptability. It also means they need to put more consideration into their internal development offerings to ensure they’re not going to have any yawning skills gaps in the future. With the economy continuing to be under strain and increasing demand for tech candidates due to the pandemic, businesses need to better work with what they’ve got.

That extends past upskilling existing staff to hiring too. Hiring managers need to think about what’s necessary today and what they might need from employees 12 months down the line. Try and refine both of these skillsets when setting out a list of job requirements. You may not find a candidate that can deliver everything that you might need tomorrow, but if they have what you require now, as well as the potential and enthusiasm to develop with your business, then it may be that you have the perfect hire.

Taking advantage of the new normal

The changes we’re seeing in the hiring market as a result of the pandemic present many unique opportunities for businesses on the lookout for new talent.

Take the rise in flexible working, for example. If the need for an employee to be “on location” 9-5 is ebbing away, that means businesses can fish from a much larger pond in terms of talent. The perfect fit for a role may be out there, but perhaps they could not commute to your location or required a bit of give in their schedule. Now, with the right approach, there are fewer barriers to hiring the right person.

Having a more flexible attitude to how people carry out their job allows you to open up to a far broader, more diverse, pool of talent. An inclusive workplace gifts you with a diversity of outlooks and ideas within your workforce. This is great news for innovation and productivity, enabling you to tackle problems from a broader angle.

Embracing these changes to the way we work means you’ll be able to get access to talent from a wider area too. People who genuinely enjoy a commute are, let’s face it, few and far between—rather than limiting yourself to applicants living within a commutable radius, you can now throw your candidate pool wide open.

This year has accelerated the evolution of work in ways we wouldn’t previously have thought possible. Adapting to these changes will be challenging, requiring an open mind and significant procedural upheaval. But the potential benefits for businesses and employees alike are striking, and that can only be a positive thing going forward.


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