Updating The HR Playbook: Talent Acquisition Strategies Post-COVID

As the economy continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are heading back to work.  

As companies emerge from the rubble, they find that their employees aren't as keen to return to the pre-2020 work world.

An unexpected impact of the coronavirus pandemic was the massive shifts in employee expectations and the ways that job seekers chose to apply for jobs.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that hiring is climbing back toward pre-pandemic levels, employee satisfaction within the status quo has taken a nosedive. 

Many Americans are looking for new employers, and companies need to fight against their own turnover by creating an engaging work environment.

While employers try to shift back into the pre-pandemic workforce and expectations, employees are looking for something more than just a job.

For HR professionals, this means that recruitment of high-quality candidates may become more competitive as the labor market continues to grow. It's time to update the playbook.

Let's dive deeper into the impact and realities of the post-COVID workforce and how recruiters and HR professionals can adapt to see continued success in their companies.

Post-COVID Hiring and Recruitment Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to the economy, but one of the biggest impacts involved job seekers and hiring practices. Consider the following stats that speak of the shifting job market:

  • Gartner polls in mid-late 2021 show that 48% of employees will seek to work remotely "at least part-time" after COVID-19 - a change from 30% pre-pandemic.
  • Nearly 70% of workers in the US report they are more likely to leave their current company for a better opportunity as more options open.
  • 94% of employees expect the work-life balance to be a significant aspect of their overall compensation - including options for remote work and flexible hours to balance childcare and health needs.
  • 56% of surveyed employees believed that workplace culture outranked salary and benefits in their workplace experience.

These stats show that talent acquisition professionals need to change how they approach recruitment. Instead of seeking candidates that are just good at their job, companies should look for employees who have a strong work ethic and fit within the company culture.

That means looking outside of the box for new recruits - especially as workforces continue to shift toward a more independent workforce with part-time remote workers.

What Are Employees Looking For In Modern Work?

When a workforce faces a pandemic, a global chill spreads across the labor market. As employees become more concerned for their well-being and that of their families, they begin to feel far less secure in the stability of their jobs.

This was especially true if an employee's company did not have an action plan or had not adequately prepared for the pandemic's onset.

Even if an organization was well-prepared, it still crippled daily life across America and increased employees' anxieties about their future within the company.

While many companies resorted to laying off large groups of employees, others decided to shift their workforce to a flexible, remote model. For those companies, the pandemic was an opportunity - not a crisis - to reinvent and reimagine the workforce.

As changes became more widespread and likely are to stay, employees began making financially-savvy decisions about their own careers and employers.

They started looking for work that offered better compensation and benefits – especially health insurance – and opportunities for autonomy, advancement, and professional development.

The last few years have seen a rise in these expectations among employees across North America. The pandemic simply exacerbated the trend toward flexible workforces that are open to exploring career paths and learning new skills.

For HR professionals, this means that recruitment success could be at risk if they allow their talent acquisition strategies and practices to remain static.

Practical Tips to Boost Employee Engagement and Recruitment Success

When it comes to updating recruitment practices and strategies, the playbook doesn't necessarily need to be thrown out; it simply needs to be updated with new ideas that are relevant to today's workforce.

Let's take a look at 13 practical tips that HR teams can implement to engage employees and boost recruitment success.

1. Invest in Employer Branding

One of the most critical steps HR teams can take is to invest in employer branding. Employer branding encapsulates a company's core values and mission while also demonstrating how employees fit into that vision.

Ultimately, what is it about your company that makes it stand out from the others? What does it mean to be a part of your team? With 86% of Glassdoor users searching out companies based on their reviews, employer brand is critical.

Employer branding includes everything from company websites and marketing materials to PR events and employee engagement initiatives. This ensures that potential candidates know what your company stands for and the atmosphere at each company.

Employers need to create specific strategies for their employer branding programs, including what they want potential hires to know about the company and its culture. HR should regularly include this program in recruitment efforts and materials.

2. Fill Skills Gaps with Flexible Options

It is unlikely that companies will fully return to the pre-pandemic workforce and expectations, especially as people adapt to living in an environment where COVID-19 is a constant risk.

Employers should be willing to consider different work hours, remote working options, and other benefits that can help retain their employees while enabling them to continue careers with flexibility.

HR professionals need to know what types of flexible options are available in their industries and how they can be better implemented into the benefits package. 

This way, companies can adapt to what people are looking for when applying for jobs or deciding if they should stay with their current employer.

3. Utilize Video Interviews and Remote Hiring

Employers need to do what they can to make the hiring process efficient and effective.

Can video interviewing be implemented into that process? Can it be used as a screening tool to reduce the number of time-consuming, in-person interviews?

This technology enables employers to conduct video interviews with applicants who are located anywhere around the world - which can cut down on costs and save valuable time.

Video conferencing isn't new, but it is becoming an increasingly popular way for companies to cut down on in-person interviews because it saves time and money and reduces unnecessary travel.

This type of remote interviewing also ensures employers are selecting applicants who are the best fit for the role. Candidates should be preselected before they ever step foot in an office, and video interviews can help streamline that process.

4. Consider Internal Mobility Options

The pandemic hit many company's bottom lines - with open roles being frozen or removed to focus on other areas. This can be detrimental to talented workers who are looking for stability and their own company's future growth.

An ideal way for companies to retain employees is by offering competitive benefits, including internal mobility options that allow employees to pursue new opportunities within the organization if they remain loyal. This provides high-quality applicants with more opportunities while also allowing the company to retain talent.

These types of options can include lateral movement, temporary assignments, and part-time work. This way, companies will have a larger pool of applicants considering their jobs while also having a group of accessible employees who are loyal to the organization.

Going back to tip #1, internal employees who feel that they have a place to grow and excel in your workplace will boost your employer brand - helping to attract better applicants than you might consider without this type of perk.

5. Get Social to Attract Talent

Today's employees are looking for more than just a steady income and competitive benefits - they want to be able to connect with their employer virtually, which is where social media comes into play.

Many companies have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and other social media platforms that allow job seekers to connect with your company - even if they are not actively looking for a new position.

Many of these pages are interactive, allowing candidates to reach out directly to the HR team, ask questions about open roles or benefits packages, or simply discuss what it is like working at their organization.

From the company's perspective, social media allows you to engage with applicants and remain active within their communities. You can share company culture, upcoming events or opportunities, as well as other things that people will find interesting.

The bottom line is that people want to connect with brands just like they do with their friends and family. Hence, companies need to embrace social media to interact with those interested in employment opportunities.

6. Implement A Strategic Recruiting Plan

In order for employers to attract top talent, they need to have a strategic recruiting plan. This will not benefit companies in the short term - it is an investment for the future.

The recruitment process should include:

  • Creating clear company values
  • Revamping job descriptions and advertisements
  • Making sure employees are brand ambassadors who are willing to promote open roles internally and externally
  • Implementing an employer branding strategy to improve brand awareness

Employers need to make sure they are utilizing all of the newest recruitment strategies available, including new types of applicant tracking software, social media recruiting efforts on popular platforms like LinkedIn, and job fairs that feature on-site interviews instead of just virtual ones.

7. Show Candidates The Value Of Being Hired

In today's world, it is becoming increasingly important for employers to show candidates the benefit of being hired.

Many applicants have many options when applying for a job, and employers need to sell their organization as the perfect place to work.

Employers should consistently emphasize in interviews how excited they are about the candidate and what their job would potentially entail. More importantly, how the candidate could potentially grow in their organization.

Today’s job seekers are looking for more than just an everyday job to clock in and clock out of. Many are also looking for someone who will become a mentor as they enter unknown fields, and as such employers should have talented and dedicated staff members willing to be mentors throughout the onboarding process.

8. Provide Enhanced Training Through Learning Management Suites

Employees want to know they are walking into a positive, learning environment when they accept a new role. To ensure that is the case, employers should offer training through learning management suites where employees can learn skills in their own time and at their own pace.

This benefits the employee and the employer because it shows potential hires that your company values their education and wants them to grow.

9. Make Transparency A Priority

The recruiting environment has changed drastically in the past few years, with millennials being some of the most sought-after new hires.

This generation is looking for transparency at all levels of employment, so employers must adapt by giving employees clear expectations of what goes on inside the walls of the business.

Transparency in the recruitment process can take many forms:

  • Employment contracts with clear expectations and packages
  • Transparent schedules that show work hours and days off
  • Detailed information about the role to create a larger understanding of what is expected.

This transparency will also make it easier for employees to talk about their role to potential hires, making them more likely to accept a position - increasing your talent pool. The more talent you have under your roof, the better your chances of recruiting top talent.

10. Increase DEI Initiatives Across The Company

Not only has the need for transparency risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, but so has the desire for companies to express diversity and inclusion.

Employers should expand on initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in order to show potential hires that all are welcome.

This includes:

  • Sponsoring intentional DEI initiatives and training
  • Increasing the number of employee resource groups
  • Hosting community outreach events
  • Updating hiring practices (i.e. creating new job descriptions) to make minorities feel included
  • Planning company-wide cultural events like festivals or concerts, working with organizations looking to increase diversity, etc

The new workforce is looking for companies to be their partners in success, not another cog in the wheel. Plus, companies that enhance their diversity in management report a 19% increase in revenue.

11. Focus On Work-Life Balance

Millennials and Gen-Z team members are putting a high value on work-life balance because they know that life doesn't stop when you walk into the office. Work can be stressful and demanding, but it doesn't mean life outside the office has to stop as well.

Employers should provide a work environment that allows employees flexibility within their schedules so they can still have a fulfilling personal life without feeling too overwhelmed by job demands.

This means creating flexible schedules, allowing time off for vacation, and encouraging time outside of the office. Employee training can also serve as a way to increase the appeal of a company to candidates while simultaneously providing backup options when one person has to take a break.

Employers that present a more flexible work environment are appealing to potential hires because it shows they care about their employees' overall wellness. 

As employees feel cared for, they will be more likely to stay at their current jobs because it's not just a paycheck but also an overall sense of wellness.

12. Create Aspirational Roles

Employees are looking for companies that have roles that are aspirational.

They want to work for employers where there is room to grow, mentorship programs, and opportunities for career development.

It is important to create a culture that gives employees opportunities and creates an ideal work environment that benefits both the employee and the employer.

Employees want to feel like they are working for a company with a positive vision and one that cares about their well-being, so employers must put in the time and effort to make employees feel valued and appreciated.

In the end, it's more than just a paycheck: employees want to know they matter and that their work matters. When companies foster an environment of growth and development, employees will be more likely to stay with you for the long term.

13. Align Recruitment Strategies with Technology

Applicant tracking systems have become a cornerstone of talent acquisition as more and more companies recognize the competitive edge it gives them when it comes to recruitment.

Whether it is through communication tools such as mass emailing, job board integrations, AI recommendations, or simply by acting as a hub centralizing all recruitment operations, ATSs provide the indispensable tools to effectively execute TA strategies.

There are many benefits to using ATSs, but the most notables are that it allows for recruiting faster and higher quality candidates all the while reducing costs. This is achieved by leveraging technology to automate manual tasks and improve the quality of sourcing and screening, boost collaboration and collaboration between all stakeholders, and provide a better candidate experience.

Updating Your Playbook For Today's Workforce

When you invest time and resources into enhancing your recruiting efforts, you are investing in your company's future.

It is crucial to continually think about making an employer attractive for potential hires. Creating a positive work environment shows current and future employees that their needs matter and will be considered in the business's overall vision.

Updating hiring practices (more than just job descriptions) and creating a more engaging and open application process will create a larger pool of talent to choose from, meaning you'll never have to compromise on quality.

Take the time to think about what made your employer attractive when you were applying for jobs and what factors led you to stay with your company long term.

Talent acquisition in today's workforce is only going to become more important as the COVID pandemic continues to subside, but there are ways to make sure you're remaining competitive. With these tips in mind, you can build a robust and holistic talent acquisition strategy that will help you find the best talent available.

Discover how Manatal enables you to streamline your Talent Acquisition and make the process more efficient. Start your 14-day Free Trial today and leverage Manatal to supercharge your recruitment operations.

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