Dr Gabriela Whitehead, Head of Digital Transformation and Process Management at GISMA Business School turns the spotlight on recruitment during COVID-19, including comment on managing resources
All sectors have been aﬀected by COVID-19 and due to the measures and regulations to safeguard our health, and to help stop the spread of the virus, restrictions have now impacted both private and public institutions across the globe, as well as the daily lives of individuals. The world is united in the ﬁght against COVID-19, sharing knowledge, eﬀorts, and initiatives across diﬀerent areas and beyond borders.
Governments and policymakers have come together to ensure essential services continue to be provided for citizens, and ﬁnancial aid is supplied to the areas heavily aﬀected by the outbreak to secure businesses and support jobs.
For instance, during the ﬁrst half of 2020, the European Commission launched several initiatives to provide food, basic items and assistance to the most deprived, temporarily lifted taxes and customs duties on imports, and secured state loans and grants for the 16 member states of the European Union to help cover the costs of reduced work schemes and other similar measures adopted by small and medium enterprises. (1)
Countries around the world have adopted large-scale measures and implemented policies to mitigate the impact of the crisis, and to support incomes and businesses, however, the consequences of local lockdowns, workplace restrictions and closures of physical premises continue, and the loss of working hours is expected to remain high in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 at 12.1% and 8.6% of equivalent fulltime jobs respectively. (2)
Social responsibility: Recruiting a local workforce
There are several industries and sectors whose assets and services are considered vital to local economies, and therefore the continuity and maintenance of their operations are a top priority for governments. This includes the healthcare industry, food supply chains, providers of electricity, water and transport, public oﬃces and delivery services.
Recruiting within these sectors is prioritised and several strategies and regional plans are now in place to support staﬃng shortages. For example, in the UK, student nurses in their ﬁnal year of training have been supporting the front line at hospitals and healthcare facilities to strengthen the outbreak response. (3)
In such an environment, companies need to identify the key roles for the operations of their business to ensure the necessary human capital is available, as well as being ﬁnancially sustainable.
Cross-training current employees and mobilising resources internally has become paramount for the running of companies, as staﬀ may be unavailable during certain periods due to illness or quarantine rules.
In some cases, recruiting new employees may be necessary when not all roles can be ﬁlled in this manner or certain areas of the business require additional staﬀ members in response to changing levels of demands.
The unprecedented situation of the pandemic demands innovative solutions that support the continuity of business and organisations in the public and private sectors to meet the social obligations and responsibilities to help all citizens during this diﬃcult period. A key element is the availability of in-country workforce to staﬀ local companies to limit travel and help to contain the potential spread of the virus.
Job seekers need to self-evaluate their professional experience, knowledge and skills, and utilise those that can be transferred to diﬀerent professions and even industries, while recruiters and HR professionals need to identify the experience and skills during the initial screening of applications. For example, many positions that are usually face-to-face or require an on-site presence, such as teaching and front desk customer services, have now moved to the virtual environment to be managed and delivered via online tools, to fulﬁl the same role or to support diﬀerent departments within the same organisation.
Transforming the recruiting process sustainably
Already, workforce planning and recruiting during the pandemic have been aﬀected in diﬀerent ways, including the need for digital tools and online platforms to ﬁnd, reach and interview potential candidates, and the extent to which the job market demands are fulﬁlled by the existing pool of talent.
Job seekers are faced with limited options if they are only available for remote work as this means they are particularly vulnerable to the virus or need to be at home to care for family members. At the same time, international travel bans, lockdowns and regional restrictions limit the ﬂow of talent to fulﬁl positions that require speciﬁc knowledge.
The changes made today in the internal processes, systems and operations should be aligned with the corporate goals, economic targets and vision of growth within the market. The expenses incurred to adapt the recruiting process to COVID-19 should be absorbed as investments for the future including the digital transformation to manage the recruiting process via online platforms, HR employee training to screen the applications in accordance with the new requirements, such as the availability to commute to work and readiness to work in diﬀerent positions and the implementation of data protection rules as teams are geographically dispersed or working from home.
We will eventually overcome COVID-19, but as with all drastic events in our society, the social, political, and economic changes will become policies and laws, and ultimately become part of our everyday lives. Together, we can ﬁnd solutions and contribute to common initiatives to support the recovery of our society in ways that can be sustained to help the vulnerable and to support future generations to pursue their professional goals and personal expectations.
(1) European Commission: ‘Jobs and economy during the coronavirus pandemic’ (May 2020) (https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-traveleu/health/coronavirus-response/jobs-and-economy-during-coronavirus-pandemic_en#ﬂexibilityundertheeusﬁscalrules)
(2) International Labour Organization: ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. 6th edition (September 2020) (https://www.skillsforemployment.org/KSP/en/Details/?dn=EDMSP1_268024)
(3) Keeping student nurses on track during COVID-19 (July 2020) (https://www.bhrhospitals.nhs.uk/news/keeping-student-nurses-ontrack-during-covid19-2471/)