With welcome news this morning that hiring confidence is at its highest in 12 months, in the third and final part of his Talent Talks series around key changes in talent acquisition, Simon Hunt looks at the impact of COVID on recruitment and the employee value proposition (EVP) with guests Mani Kumar, Paul Powell and Tom Baker.
Mani Kumar started this part of the discussion by highlighting that firms have and will continue to need to understand how they can represent themselves virtually and gain competitive advantage. Hiring and engaging virtually requires a different mindset, there are huge differences in business performance currently with many organisations going through significant change, whether that is downsizing or aggressive growth. Companies have needed to change how they impact future talent from tangible experiences gained from going to offices, shaking people's hands and meeting face to face, to virtual and visual experiences only. The appeal must be tweaked and be “bigger picture”.
Paul Powell quotes the “power of induction” – more time is required to make induction impactful and effective. Working from home actually allows this to happen and can provide new employees with more facetime than they might ordinarily get. Virtual meetings, town halls, team meetings and functional meetings are all easier to “attend” for everyone and not limited by location for example. A structured induction where you can meet more people leads to increased knowledge to allow new employees to get to know and navigate an organisation faster.
It has, of course, forced the last bastions of presenteeism to have to try operating with a flexible workforce. Although most of us are probably currently thinking we can't wait to get away from home (drum roll…..We Gotta Get out of This Place - The Animals!), we are more than likely going to fall on a better balance of flexibility because employees want a balance and have been asking for more of one for years. Tom Baker mentioned that 70%+ of Lloyds staff when surveyed were in favour of 3:2 or 2:3 with some pliability regarding flexible working. The general consensus is 3:2 or 2:3 and either option offers a significant improvement for potential wellbeing and work life balance. The future of the office in its existing format will no doubt change consequently with locations becoming styled more like collaboration sites and touch points than high volume desk bases. This has the making of an exciting evolution regarding work life, business culture and performance. These hubs should be where groups meet to innovate, create energy, and drive growth. The more agile the business the better they seem to have responded to these changes in thinking and these are the organisations whose EVPs will shine through.
Mental health and wellbeing were building momentum as key topics before COVID and it is safe to say they are now, rightly so, at the very forefront of organisational thinking (and if they aren’t then they should be). No one in the workforce has had to deal with the experiences of the last eleven months before and how organisations support their employees and create cohesive cultures is evolving daily. Working from home does have some challenges – virtual meetings can be more intense; it can be harder to engage (reading the screen is much harder than reading the room) so people need to consider this and be open to changing approaches and styles which is hard and will continue to take time. Conversely to the new hub mentality for offices, virtual meetings can be much harder to create innovation, they can lack energy and stunt growth. Days in front of the screen all day are intense and exhausting. Employees need to assert better self-control to get up and out to break up a day. It is all too easy to become more desk bound as you bounce from one virtual meet to another. Because you are working from home colleagues think you are immediately available all the time. Organisations also need to understand the impact on different cohorts and how it impacts them – an obvious example being the younger employee groups who blend their professional and social lives, live in shared accommodation, and thrive off the buzz of the office environment.
We would welcome your thoughts on how the last few months have impacted your talent acquisition approach and process, and how you are adapting in this changing new environment. My thanks again to Mani Kumar, Paul Powell and Tom Baker for their time and fascinating discussion.