COVID-19 Will Change Who We Hire and How We Hire
To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a disrupting force on most businesses would be an exercise in gross understatement. This disease, and the global reaction to it, has changed our lives in so many ways. With luck, vaccines will be developed and distributed across the globe mitigating it’s impact. That unfortunately could take a year or more. But even after the threat of COVID-19 has subsided, it will have changed so many aspects of life.
At Innovo Staffing we are, of course, interested in what the job market will look like after COVID-19. We think there will be many changes, some being previewed today, that will impact on who we hire and how we hire them. We would like to take this opportunity to share our observations from the employer’s perspective, the candidate’s perspective, and how the changes will impact employment in key industries.
The Reluctant Migration to Remote
Before state-mandated “stay at home orders”, many in senior business leadership positions were reluctant to embrace the idea of remote workers. This reluctance is probably based on cultural norms that dictated that employees come to work where they can be supervised and leaders get plush corner offices and handsome mahogany conference tables to sit at. That’s an oversimplification, but there really are no legitimate business reasons to object to remote work for some positions and the list of benefits has a positive impact on productivity and bottom line.
Progressive organizations that are attempting the digital transition already know that much of what defines the company, numbers, designs, ideas, supply chain management, payroll, etc. exist in the “cloud” where any authorized person can access it. And they can access it from anywhere at any time. No need to drive to work, sit at a desk, and only access the work from 8 AM to 5 PM.
COVID-19 forced the issue. Companies who wanted to remain “open” without being physically “open” quickly learned that could be done remotely. Senior leadership learned the conferencing, project management, and messaging technology needed and sure enough, work got done.
For positions that do not require a physical presence, which is many in the finance, engineering, professional services, and information technology arenas, remote workers make perfect sense.
COVID-19 Introduces Global Workforce and Smaller Conference Rooms
For companies willing to adapt to a non-traditional workplace, employing remote workers will offer two challenges. When a physical location is not a relevant issue, new hires will be drawn from a massively expanded talent pool. Secondly, with nobody physically showing up for work, what do you do with space you currently have.
We will leave the facilities question to property managers and others to address. However, your staffing processes are in for a major shock.
- When your talent can live anywhere, expect to be flooded with applicants when you initiate a sourcing campaign. Can your HR handle the influx of prospects? Do they have the tools to identify prospects who are likely to succeed working remotely?
- Is HR equipped with the tools and skills to recruit and interview remotely?
- How will your onboarding process change?
- Will you have different pay scales for remote workers? If a worker in Des Moines can remotely fill a position based in Philadelphia, will his or her compensation be based on market conditions in Philly or Des Moines?
- How will you manage the corporate culture and get buy-in from both physical and remote workers?
- What will you do with all those empty conference chairs?</h3>
The talent challenges will be formidable as will be the leadership skills required. If an organization is counting on a return to “business as usual” they are going to be in for a rough ride. However, the disruption caused by COVID-19 may bring about more productive and efficient enterprises by necessitating companies to embrace the digital world. It may also provide career and economic opportunities for rural populations that did not exist before.
There is a lot More Fish in the Sea Now
Over 40 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits since the first stay-at-home orders were issued. Some of those jobs will never come back because the employers will not survive the shut-down. For others, particularly those that had a job that requires physical presence like machinists, retail sales, or healthcare-related occupations, reemployment is likely. But for those who have positions that can be performed remotely, the job market may look quite different.
If remote work-from-home becomes a new “norm” (and early adapters like Twitter, Facebook, and Google have all committed to remote workplaces) employers will have much larger talent pools to draw on when career opportunities open up. If an accounting position in Philadelphia can be handled equally well by an accountant in Raleigh (or Manitoba, CA for that matter) candidates may be looking at an exponential increase in competition.
So, How do You Stand Out in a Crowded Field?
The post-COVID-19 job seeker will be a master of as many project management, collaboration, and virtual communications tools as he or she can manage. The candidate will be “ready for their closeup” and completely comfortable and confident with video communications. In this early phase of remote work, finding a qualified candidate who is already skilled in the tools the company is using is a plus.
But, just as it is today, networking is where a candidate wants to depend on the bulk of job search time. Physical networking, getting together for coffee, or attending a Chamber event, is probably not going to happen for a couple of years or more. However, social media and video conferencing provide the candidate with multiple networking channels.
Being out of work is always a stressful experience. UCLA coach John Wooden once noted, “The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.” The key to navigating this new market place is keeping the faith in your abilities. Remember, while employers have more candidates to choose from, you have more jobs to explore.
Consequences of Remote Working on Job Markets
While it appears that remote working is the most viable response to the limitations that COVID-19 has imposed on the economy, the practice may have unintended consequences on key industries and “essential employees.”
- The pandemic has significantly reduced the mobility of the world’s population. Few people are commuting. Airline schedules have been slashed. Public transportation is running on reduced schedules. Mother Nature loves it as the atmosphere is noticeably cleaner. However, reduced mobility means reduced demand for fuel, and fossil-based energy companies are seeing dramatic losses. Areas that are heavily engaged in fossil energy like Houston, Dallas, and the fracking operations in North and South Dakota could see a permanent loss of employment even during post-COVID-19 times.
- Downtown business districts will have significantly smaller populations as companies reduce their real estate footprint to match their smaller physical employee headcount. Vacancy rates of office buildings could skyrocket. Downtown businesses such as restaurants, dry cleaners, bars, and others will have a difficult time remaining open.
- Will H2 visas become irrelevant? Foreign high skilled engineers and developers highly valued by American companies have had to obtain an H2 visa yo work in the states. The government has never agreed to issue the number of visas that business has asked for. If remote working is adapted, foreign talent can “phone their work in.”
We are in for a change. At Innovo Staffing we don’t claim to have all the answers…yet. But we can assist you with the latest trends in remote hiring and the recruiting techniques associated with it. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.