Updated: Jan 27, 2022
By Rayan Omer
Now is the time for HR professionals to lead the way in setting new strategic responses to operating the business during this time of uncertainty. A chameleon changes its color depending on the surface in order to adapt. HR needs to be versatile, like a chameleon, and adjust to the circumstances they are facing. While social distancing is still in place, working remotely helps protect the health and safety of your employees and potential candidates.
The shelter-at-home order and other health concerns have led many employers to conduct virtual or phone interviews. Here are five things to consider when hiring during the Covid-19 pandemic:
1- Implications of remote interviewing
Before the Coronavirus, hiring managers and employers heavily relied on face-to-face interviews to select job candidates for the organization fit. During the personal interview, one can easily assess body language and social cues. Typically, employers assess skills, knowledge, experiences a person would bring to the new position. More importantly, small businesses have an extra interest in assessing general competencies, such as the ability to work with others, communicate effectively, and respond quickly to customers’ needs.
When an employer adopts virtual hiring practices, it shows versatility and adaptability to difficult times; it shows that they know how to keep the ball rolling even in trying times such as those we are experiencing. Needless to say, choosing new ways of hiring, you're minimizing the damaging impact of potentially spreading the virus to interviewees and pandemic proofing your company for the future.
There are other advantages to switching your hiring process to a virtual format, besides minimizing health and safety concerns of Covid-19.
Virtual interviews are cheap.
One of the excellent advantages of doing a phone or video interview is that it's cheap, unlike having to pay for a candidate’s travel expenses if they live abroad or in another state. Most candidates expect employers to cover their interview expenses in such cases. So, if an employee seems to meet all the requirements in a job posting, before incurring any costs, it's a good idea to screen them further by phone or video interview. For more information on interview costs, please visit Balance Careers.
On the flip side of the same coin, the lack of body language in a phone or video interview is a huge obstacle. For instance, you can't tell if the candidate on the other side of the phone is frowning upon something you’ve shared about the company or how attentive they are since you can't see any facial expressions.
The average recruiting time takes about 38 days. According to LinkedIn, 70% of companies take about one to four months to fill a new position. Hiring the old fashion way is time-consuming. Trying to find the right time for the employer and the employee to conduct the interview is also a hassle that can be overcome easily with online interviewing. Hence, it's more convenient for both parties to find the right time virtually.
Some of the disadvantages of conducting a virtual interview besides the lack of body language cues are:
Technology is flawed
Technology is great, but it can fail you when you most need it. You don't want to have a lousy interview because the microphone is terrible or the screen is freezing. Technical errors make it harder for you to know the candidate and vice versa. An employee can also question your company, if something as necessary as your Internet is failing. So, small business owners need to make sure they have good Internet speed and the appropriate equipment before conducting any virtual interviews.
When using any third party to conduct your interviews like Zoom or Skype, an issue that could arise is the storing of personal data by that third person. The applicant must be aware that a third party could collect their information before conducting the interview. An employer should find a vendor that distributes consent forms to candidates before the time of the interview.
2- Hiring excellent virtual employees
Finding the right candidate could be a daunting task. It takes time, effort, and money. Employers have an incentive to get the right talent from the first time. The challenge is harder now, as the process needs to be done virtually. According to The Muse, the essential traits that employees working from home should have are self-discipline, effective communication, and a results-oriented mindset. Furthermore, they should be resourceful and technologically savvy.
According to Spark Hire, hiring the right candidate starts with where you are searching for them. Its’s all about sourcing talent. If an employer is looking for a loyal, long-committed employee, then a freelancer may not be a good fit because they may be juggling other jobs at the same time.
Using video screening is crucial. You need to know whether the candidate is putting his best foot forward during the interview process or not, such as whether they are dressed formally or casually, because they are at home. If an employer can do multiple video interviews for the employee with different interviewers, that would help eliminate some uncertainties. For example, did the candidate provide the same answer to both interviews? Was he on time for both interviews? Were they wearing professional clothing for both interviews? For more information on hiring the right candidate, check Spark Hire for more tips.
Getting to know the candidate helps with building rapport, honesty, and trust according to The Muse. These qualities will help you when asking about past behaviors, such as how did the candidate structure their day working from home in their last project.
Lastly, you may want to test the candidates before having them on board with a work sample. Give candidates a task to perform, such as a presentation, design a brochure, or create a timetable for an upcoming project, before the interview. See their communication skills and work ethic in completing the task. You will know whether they are computer savvy, such as if they used a good location for the presentation without distractions. This test will give you a peek at how they would perform in the future.
3- Avoid Discrimination
Racism and xenophobia are spreading even quicker than the virus itself. Just like traditional hiring, an employer must avoid bias, discrimination, and exclusion. HR should continue to build leadership, honor diversity, and respect all candidates and employees.
An employer needs to talk about these issues and create an environment free from microaggressions within the workplace. Also, an employer should ensure that the employees continue to respect one another. It is vital to have a policy in place that provides anti-discrimination guidance and is implemented equitably.
Making the offer
After you have found your best fit candidate, and you're ready to make an offer, it's important to consider the circumstances the employees are in. Traditional offers, where an employer provides a certain pay in consideration of the employee's work, might not be suitable during Covid-19. In these hard times, maybe put in the offer a wellness program, or any other gesture that shows your company cares about its employees.
Any affordable gesture a small business owner can make would make their company stand out from other businesses. It would also attract great employees and bring good publicity. For more guidance in hiring amid a pandemic, check out Nasdaq.
4- The impact of Covid-19 on onboarding staff
For every new hire, an employer is required under federal law to verify the employee's identity and authorization to work in the United States. Under the I-9 rules, the employee’s presence is necessary for such verification, but the agency has deferred the physical appearance requirement due to Covid-19 and has allowed employers to comply with the process virtually. This deferral option only applies to employers who instituted remote work arrangements. But, for those employers who are working on-site partially or entirely, a physical inspection of original documents is still required. The inspection should take place within three business days after their return to work.
After our society resumes regular operations, this temporarily relaxed rule will no longer be available.
Lastly, small business owners should think about how they will be onboarding new staff. Creating a virtual onboarding process is very helpful. An employee can have access to their ID and password online, meet their coworkers, and know precisely how to communicate with everyone on the team. Platforms, like Slack, help bridge the communication issue, so the employee does not need to continuously check their email for updates.
5- Team building
It's hard to fill in the space that social distancing and working from home has created.
But, there are millions of other ways to build a team, other than meeting every day at the office. It's essential to build a team because, as a small business owner, you need your team to be collaborative, which helps improve productivity. One cannot be at their best performance if they are frustrated by other employees they work with every day!
Time Doctor has friendly, fun ways to build a team, like “take a peek at my house,” where each employer shows the other employees a peek of their home. Another example is sharing your bucket list. Lastly, if you don't have the time, it could be as simple as sharing a personal photo.
Keeping your staff motivated
In general, employees, who are working remotely, are less motivated. Therefore, it's vital to engage your employees to keep the productivity level up. Personalized recognition is indispensable to motivate your employees as each employee is at a different stage in life where priorities change. There is no "one size fits all" for employee motivation.
Having clear expectations
Some employees find it hard to achieve without direction. It's important to give employees the tools they need to succeed. Therefore, it's crucial to identify the short, medium, and long term goals of the company and inform everyone in the team. Another example of giving your employees the tools to succeed could be high-level information about the company, its rules, procedures and policies. All of this information would act as guidance for the employee when performing his job.
Trust your team
Some employers think that working remotely is detrimental for productivity, but research has shown an opposite effect. The freedom afforded by working remotely has led to an increase in productivity and attracts loyal employees who know their boss is flexible when needed.
Once an employer has set a clear objective of the deliverables, he or she must trust the staff to do them. Otherwise, a lack of trust damages the team.
Check in Frequently
Having regular check-in times is beneficial to your team. It helps to maintain the connection with employees and a chance to catch up after work is handled. But, an employer should be wary not to over-utilize this method. Otherwise, employees might perceive such check-ins as a lack of trust.
At last, a happy business
Lastly, it's crucial for HR to promote a calm environment, while urging leaders to act in a timely, accurate manner from all levels of the organization. Your staff, especially as a small business owner, is your highest valued asset. You need to protect and keep their mental, physical, and spiritual health high against all these uncertainties. For more information on checking on your employees’ mental health, see Shelby Matsumura’s blog on "COVID-19 and Mental Health: Are Your Employees Okay? "
For further information on HR best practices during Covid-19, please see TSNE MissionWorks.
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