The term “a new normal” is something we hear every day. People are asking the question, “when will things go back to normal? “ The way in which we work, learn, communicate and engage are changing daily. Work is no longer where we go, and school is no longer where you learn. We are adapting to new opportunities and ways of doing things and letting go of outdated mindsets each and every day. This is all very encouraging and just the hope we need in a world full of chaos, fear and uncertainty. This is our chance to redefine our future.
The Changes Can Feel Overwhelming
With each new week, we embrace new opportunities while at the same time, we see startling data causing us to pause. The impacts of this pandemic are nothing short of devastating. We are watching the number of lives taken increase every day. The number of cases of people falling ill continuing to rise. And the number of people filing for unemployment exploding in the U.S. At the time of writing this blog post, there were over 16.9 million people who had lost their jobs and filed for unemployment in just the past few weeks. We can only assume that by the time this is posted, that number will have once again increased.
Estimates are forecasting upwards of 25 million people who will be laid off, furloughed or had their job eliminated before this is “over”. To make matters worse, these numbers only represent people who were “employees”. What the numbers don’t account for are the thousands of gig/contract workers who are not eligible for unemployment but have also lost their ability to secure work. Given 47% of the US economy is made up of small businesses, the impacts are not just individuals but organizations as well.
While this data is disheartening, and at the moment, it feels like our future is forever changed, we, as leaders, employers and humans, have a responsibility to create a better future filled with opportunity. We are being given another chance to change our mindsets, policies, programs and people and workplace experiences for the better.
Organizations will begin to slowly, or in some industries, rapidly ramp back up. They will once again produce their product(s) and provide their services. Many will have modified, even possibly drastically changed business and people strategies to compete in a new way. And for those who don’t seek out change and simply go back to the way it was before, the impacts will be quite significant, and in some instances, unrecoverable.
Outside the Box? Time to throw away the box
Some of you might ask, what does this all mean to those who are responsible for leading the charge on people strategies in organizations? It means you have to think far more progressively than in the past. The idea of thinking “outside the box” is not enough. You have to get rid of the box and design a new model to compete. This is your time and you have to take charge and define what the “new normal” will look like for your org.
Of course, there are places where it makes better business sense to start than others. Organizations are going to have to drastically change their approach to the talent acquisition process. You will no longer have a recruiting team who is predominantly focused on recruiting. You will now have a Candidate Experience and Talent Selection team who are responsible for ensuring the future viability of the organization. This team will have an even more profound impact on the financial performance of company than ever before.
Organizations that made it through the pandemic will look different. They will be comprised of leaner teams, moved to new models for working, be very deliberate with discretionary spending and will be laser focused on getting the right people in the organization. The professionals who once spent their time searching for the people to join their organization will be inundated with hundreds, if not thousands of applicants. Openings that received 300 resumes in the past could see 1,000 or more in the future. People are going to be grasping at straws to get back into an employed status as quickly as possible.
“Openings that received 300 resumes in the past could see 1,000 or more in the future.”
At first, one might say focusing on the candidate experience isn’t a priority. That we, as employers, are once again in the driver’s seat of this ongoing war on talent. While there is some truth to that, this is our opportunity to progress forward. To disrupt our way of thinking and behaving because our future success depends upon how we navigate the new world of work. The people whom we select as well as those who don’t are consumers of our goods and services. They will be making discretionary decisions with their buying power and you need them as much as they need you.
So, Where to Begin . . .
Now what does that mean in terms of change? What are the elements you can modify that will positively impact your people and business outcomes? How does an organization get started? It can seem overwhelming and daunting but like everything else, you must approach this one step at a time. Don’t do nothing because you can’t do it all.
Start with updating or implementing a validated selection process. The costs of making a bad selection decision will be more costly than ever before. Organizations can’t afford to select the wrong individuals given they are likely working with smaller budgets while expecting equal if not greater results. They will need to ensure they are selecting people who have a high propensity for learning, can add value quickly, and are highly agile as there will be numerous models for working in our new world. Gauging a person’s future success based off their resume, a gut feeling or a few conversations has never been a valid methodology so now is the perfect time to change. By understanding a person’s thinking and human potentiality, organizations can ensure they are making the right people and business decision with every selection made.
By utilizing a profiling or assessment, you are getting far greater insight into how a person thinks, why they think the way they do. You can learn what strengths a person has or doesn’t have and compare that to the expectations of the role and you can far more accurately predict performance than you can simply going off of the traditional interviewing process. These offerings also significantly reduce the workload of candidate experience team. By automating the screening of hundreds of people and identifying those who have a higher probability of success, your people can spend more time on personalizing the human interaction that matters.
Whether Onboarding or Offboarding – Maintain a Human-Centered Approach
Follow on quickly by rethinking the offboarding candidate experience. Different from offboarding your people but equally as important. These human beings may be the future talent you need. They could be current or future consumers of your product or service, and they may be connected to others and could negatively impact your brand. But really, treating them equally as delightful as those you select is simply the right thing to do.
I have witnessed first-hand, countless examples of how not to treat candidates being offboarded. Person submits interest to a job and never hears anything. Person has an initial conversation with a recruiter and then hears nothing again. Person participates in one or more interviews and (drastic pause) never hears back. Or my favorite, person goes through extensive interviewing process and gets a thanks but no thanks form letter. People, why does this have to be so damn difficult?
There are so many technologies available today that can assist you with the automation while maintaining a human-centric approach. Whether you are wanting to implement a chat bot to engage with candidates, utilize SMS for ongoing communication to talent rediscovery offerings, there is no longer an excuse for a poor candidate experience at any stage.
Take it one step further and leave your offboarded candidates with more than they came with when they expressed interest. If you are using one of the progressive assessment or profile technologies, you can actually provide the candidate with guidance for the next opportunity. Whether it’s providing them with a profile of their thinking patterns, strengths or communication styles or delivering an interview guide that will help them prepare for the next series of interviews, you can make a lasting impact in a positive way.
While right now the news every day seems grim, we will turn a corner and things will start to look up. The economy will recover, albeit slower than we desire. Companies that stopped hiring will start again. Our unemployment numbers will go down, again not rapidly but they will rescind. But what worked before will NOT work in the future. If you don’t take any lessons from this and go back to the way it was, you will not experience the success you desire. Those who get it right will win the war on talent, gain additional customers and ultimately out-perform their competitors.
So where will you be? Will you use this time to begin making changes and the investments that will position you as a leader or will you be a laggard, continue on as you always have and fall back in your progress. If you want to improve performance, reduce your costs and increase your bottom line, you have to take action now.
Contributed by Lisa Sterling, Founder and CEO, R3-Engage
ThinkX Board Member, Human Resources Industry Expert