Devin FosterAugust 10, 2020
Topics: Talent Experience

10 Powerful HR Insights We’ve Learned Since COVID-19 [Video]

Over the last six months since the pandemic changed our lives and the HR landscape, we’ve had the privilege of hosting guests with a range of expertise and experience on Talent Experience Live, a weekly show connecting our community with of-the-moment topics and trends in HR and recruiting.

Last week, we distilled their insights into 10 key takeaways. Get the highlights here—as well as specific in-depth guidance from our HR Resiliency Playbooks, which we recently released to help talent professionals adapt and thrive in rapidly changing industry conditions.

The List: 10 Insights to Stay Relevant in a Changing World

1. Be ready to take action.

Uncertainty. Helplessness. These are buzzwords of the pandemic, but early on it became clear that rather than giving in to the instinct to sit idle and wait out the chaos, the opposite was needed: action.

From CHROs to recruiters, combatting this lack of control takes the form of taking thoughtful action, whether by pivoting strategy to support remote workers or actively supporting job seekers in the pipeline.

In fact, the Talent Experience Live Show manifests the benefit of moving forward in the face of uncertainty. Originally planned to take place in-house, Phenom designed a well-equipped studio… and then everybody went home. For months.

We then decided to plunge ahead anyway and host the show remotely. And here we are, recapping months’ worth of learning from our peers that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

Forward motion is the key here. Will there be missteps? Most likely—but we can learn from them and continuously improve. The risk of waiting for things to return to normal far outweighs any potential stumbles as you propel into the future.

2. Embrace digital communication and connecting virtually.

The loss of in-person contact with talent candidates is profound, and we need to adapt to the absence of large-scale events like career fairs and individual meetings alike. Virtual events are how it’s done for now and probably for the foreseeable future. The key to making these successful will be using tools like live chat and chatbots, which enable talent professionals to quickly respond to candidates in a relevant and individual way.

Without the ability to communicate an organization’s culture through face-to-face interaction or on-premise tours, finding ways to digitally answer intimate questions like “How does a day in the life of this job look?” or “What’s the team like?” becomes vitally important.

The bottom line? Talent professionals need to create human interaction virtually, and embrace the tools and platforms that enable this.

RELATED: Accelerating Virtual Recruiting Playbook

3. Use your PTO—and encourage employees to do the same.

Working from home may sound like a way to promote a better work-life balance, but many have found that’s not necessarily true. One casualty seems to be taking vacation time—a 50% drop in requests for using PTO was seen this spring compared to last year, one study reports.

But taking a break to disconnect is so important to employee wellness and team productivity and performance. HR leaders should work to instill a culture that supports using PTO. Managers should watch for burn-out among team members and encourage using vacation time, remaining aware that some employees might benefit right now from using PTO in non-traditional ways to accommodate individual family needs.

4. Embrace transformation.

This point follows the first key finding regarding taking action. As individuals, departments, and organizations, we need to adopt the mindset that the old normal isn’t returning anytime soon. It’s time to throw out the old playbook—or at least adapt it.

This especially applies to employer branding, with the challenge lying in how to keep your brand intact and even improve it during these times of disruption. Even as the prospect of recovery moves within reach, a good deal of reshaping and transformation will be needed before successful forward progress can happen. It’s on HR leaders to act now, assessing the needs of the organization so that a transformation can be carefully orchestrated rather than allowed to spin up on its own, risking compromised strategy and goals.

5. Tap into your internal talent.

Before the pandemic – and the furloughs and hiring freezes that have affected so many companies – we tended to fill employment needs by seeking out candidates with very specific skill sets. Companies now are shifting toward the concept of an internal talent marketplace, tapping into the depth of skill and talent of the existing employee base to fill crucial business needs.

Closely related to the internal marketplace model is the creation of employee “gigs,” referring not to a side hustle outside the workplace, but to moving employees temporarily to help out with projects and needs in other departments.

As many organizations are finding, developing an internal talent marketplace and encouraging employee gigs helps drive agility, productivity and employee and customer satisfaction alike.

RELATED: Establishing Employee Agility Playbook

6. Candidate experience is more important than ever.

The upheaval in the job market has created a very stressful situation for candidates, who now face increased competition, hiring freezes and an uncertain future. It’s important to remove as much stress as possible from the recruitment process right now.

Attracting highly skilled candidates will depend on providing a seamless recruiting experience that promotes a high level of engagement, even in a virtual world. Again, implementing the right mix of technology and tools will be key. For example, on-demand video interviewing and using chatbots for screening and answering FAQs can help organizations communicate more quickly and intimately with candidates.

7. Now is the time to tell your own unique story.

It’s always essential to be authentic and stand out. Current times demand even more attention to developing a truly unique story and making sure it’s heard.

One way to ensure authenticity is to avoid clichés that have made their way into the employer branding vernacular, like “People Are Our Greatest Asset” or “We Treat Employees Like Family.” It’s time to go deeper and find an original way to communicate your organization’s employee value proposition.

From a practical perspective, once you’ve developed your story, capture it in a document and make it accessible so that it can evolve over time.

8. Diversity & inclusion is not “seasonal” – do everything with purpose, and do it year-round.

Diversity & inclusion have recently demanded the spotlight – but organizations can’t treat it as a trend, or as a one-day celebration of differences that recedes into the background over time. People want to see companies backing up their inclusion and diversity strategies with action, on both an organizational and the community level.

Specific actions might include appointing a committee and a communications point person. Develop a plan detailing how you’re going to diversify teams. It’s a process and a journey, not a one-day observance. Own the fact that it won’t be perfect at first, but getting it started is worth some initial discomfort.

9. Develop an omni-channel experience.

Because people are still mostly working from home in many organizations, they’re feeling siloed and disconnected. As mentioned, there’s no such thing as in-person events right now. Figuring out how to gather people and keep them engaged will take an omni-channel approach. (“Omni-channel” refers to using a combination of tactics and methods to reach people and disseminate content.)

In short, we need something more expansive than a one-size-fits-all approach to start the conversation with talent—and keep it going. This means identifying which methods will best suit your audience segments and your message (e.g., SMS, email, social media engagement, online events) and developing a strategy around them.

10. Be optimistic about the future.

The sentiment “We’re all in this together” might be overused, but it’s heard so often during these overwhelming times for a reason: There’s comfort in knowing that even though we face different challenges, we’re all united in trying to find a better way forward for ourselves as individual professionals and our organizations as a whole.

So, latch onto optimism. Find slivers of hope and positivity, and nurture them until they take on a life of their own.

Take Action—Get the HR Resiliency Playbooks today.

These step-by-step guides help you establish a strategy—and regain control in a fluctuating talent landscape. Download now.

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