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Hiring and Retention: Considerations for Your Post COVID-19 Workforce Planning

While it may seem that the COVID-19 pandemic will never end, the crisis will eventually abate, and organizations will need to adjust their workforce accordingly. Hiring will ramp up, and organizations will be faced with the challenge of defining and then executing a new workforce strategy, one that takes into account the lessons learned from this crisis. If they have not done so already, organizations need to begin their workforce planning post-COVID-19 and take steps to ensure that they have the skills and talent needed to meet their goals when the pandemic has subsided.

Organizations won’t look the same when hiring begins again in earnest. Few, if any, will look like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. The drastically different world we will find ourselves in will necessitate new approaches to how organizations are structured and operate.

For example, the pandemic has made it clear that organizations in every industry need to ramp up their digital transformation initiatives to increase flexibility, improve collaboration, and create more personalized employee and customer experiences. As a result, organizations need to create new roles, change existing roles, and attract employees with the skillsets needed to thrive in the transformed organization.

Workforce Planning Post-COVID-19

According to Frank Girimonte, associate principal at the Hackett Group, “Every industry is going to be impacted in different ways. Whatever strategies you had in place prior to this year are probably going to have to be thrown out and redone.”

Workforce planning post-COVID-19 will play a big part in determining which organizations thrive and which ones fail in the long term. CHROs need to have a clear idea of what their organization’s goals will be post-crisis, what skills will be required to meet those goals, and what roles will need to be either created or changed as a result. They will also need tools in place to be able to source new employees, evaluate existing employees, and plan for the future.

By understanding the needs of the organization as a whole and working with senior leadership, as well as other key stakeholders, HR will be able to build a pro-active workforce strategy (as opposed to a reactive approach of simply filling positions as they are requested). Developing this strategy as soon as possible allows HR to take steps to prepare to execute it.

Workforce Considerations Post Pandemic

When building out a workforce strategy, organizations should keep the following in mind:

  • In addition to replacing some pre-pandemic roles, organizations will need to hire for new roles that better fit with the changing business environment. It is important to define these roles as early as possible, as well as the skills they require.
  • For those positions in which staff just need to be replaced, both original employees and new applicants will put in for the roles.
  • Furloughed employees will come back to either the same role they held originally or a potentially modified role. This may require additional training to help them succeed in their redefined role.
  • When the pandemic has averted, and hiring begins to ramp up, high-performing employees will have options.
  • Organizations with augmented staff that it wants to retain will face competition from the employee’s old employers as well as new recruiters.

Put simply, competition for high-performing talent will most likely be fierce when the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

Lina Graves, Hirschfeld Properties’ chief people officer, said during a virtual conference hosted by SHRM that, "The truth is that even though we will potentially get a ton of responses to a job post, it will be that much more difficult to find the right people with the right skillset. A lot of people will apply for a lot of positions, whether they have the right skills or not. Organizations need to start looking for critical talent now because it will take longer than it did before to sort through all the applicants."

Hiring and retaining the best talent will be challenging, and those organizations that do not take steps in advance to establish themselves as great places to work will struggle to fill key positions.

Employer Branding Comes to the Forefront

In order to attract and retain the best talent and effectively execute their workforce strategy, employers need to focus on developing career path options, increase internal mobility, and invest in learning and development initiatives. More importantly, organizations need to ensure that they have a strong employer brand.

When given a number of employment options that all look equally good on paper, an applicant will frequently choose the option with the strongest employee brand. That said, most organizations are being put through what could be considered a “pressure cooker,” during this crisis. How well the organization copes under these pressures, and how well it treats its employees under these trying circumstances, is currently shaping its employer brand. Organizations that clearly put their employees first and stick to their core values during the pandemic will see fewer employees leave once hiring ramps up again and be well-positioned to hire top-tier talent.

"Certainly those who are able to stay true to their values can stay connected to their employees, even if those employees are forced to exit the organization." Says Jeanne Schad, a talent solutions and strategy practice leader at Randstad RiseSmart.

Integral to a strong employer brand is open communication, which has become essential during the COVID-19 crisis. According to a study by LinkedIn, updates that mention the Coronavirus get 30% higher engagement than the typical update. Further, LinkedIn updates in North America and Asia-Pacific regions that mentioned working from home see a 50% increase in engagement over the average update. People are paying attention to what brands are saying during this crisis and judging them by how transparent they are.

A Better Candidate and Employee Experience at Scale

An organization’s brand as an employer depends greatly on its candidate and employee experience. In can be difficult to deliver a strong candidate and employee experience, however, when trying to fill a large number of positions. To deliver a great experience at scale, organizations need talent management solutions that are built around the candidates and employees that they serve.

An organization’s talent management solution needs to be cloud-based to support a remote workforce. It also needs to incorporate automation in order to keep applicants engaged. Moreover, it needs to incorporate with the organization’s existing HCM. Modern talent solutions, such as Phenom, combines a candidate experience and employee experience tools with recruiter and management experience solutions, delivering an end-to-end talent management solution.

On the applicant side, a talent management experience solution should give applicants options in terms of how they communicate with your organization, be it email, text messages, or onsite chatbot. It provides them with an easy, seamless method for finding positions that they would be a good fit for encourages them to apply. These solutions can also email follow-up campaigns keep them engaged and your organization top of mind.

On the employee side, modern solutions can help existing employees find new opportunities internally and plan their career growth within the organization will help keep talent from looking elsewhere.

When shelter in place restrictions have been lifted on a large scale, many organizations will need to fill roles at scale. Having a sophisticated talent management system allows organizations to fill those roles without sacrificing either the candidate or employee experience.

For more resources on navigating your business through the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our virtual resources center.

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