A little over a year ago we never would have guessed at the ways that our global economy would have changed and that it would be brought about by the onset of a global pandemic. Coronavirus has largely impacted every aspect of our lives, from the corporate level to daily interactions. 

Hiring employees likewise has changed. The typical process of application, in-person interviews and a tour of the workplace came to an abrupt halt last year as non-essential businesses went through a period of closure and millions of Americans started working from home.

Both employers and prospective employees have needed to adjust to this “new normal.” Despite big changes, people still want the same things from their jobs for the most part – meaningful work, respect in the workplace, healthy work culture and the opportunity to use skills and talents.

When hiring employees during a pandemic, It’s important to set up a system that optimizes current circumstances and still offers employees what they are searching for. Here are some tips to keep in mind if your company is hiring during a pandemic. 

Keep it personal

One of the largest frustrations about the newly virtual workplace is the lack of human connection. We can all attest anecdotally that video conferencing and emails cannot replace the relationships built in person.

The hiring process is already a formal affair, and even pre-pandemic was not necessarily a time for bonding. However, reversing that standard could help a company to sift through and hire the best employees.

People want to work for an employer who values each individual. Shifting from an impersonal model of hiring to one that invests in getting to know employees will not only allow the company to see the best of the candidates and their motivations but also help to retain those individuals. 

Consider hosting longer interviews or have time allotted during the second round of interviews to ask about a candidate’s strengths, interests and inspiration. Interviewers who are patient and reciprocate personal sharing will show a prospective candidate that a company values individuality and personal connection.

Build a culture

Hiring during a pandemic is much easier when you have a workplace environment that people want to engage in. Each company will have its own culture that they want to build, whether it focuses on camaraderie, success, respect or likely a combination of qualities. 

Fostering a culture takes time, but take advantage of new hires who exhibit the strengths you want the company to reflect. For example, in the hiring process, a perfect resume with impressive credentials doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is a good fit with the company. If a prospective employee embodies the friendliness and enthusiasm you want as part of your company’s culture, the best long-term investment might be to hire a less qualified candidate and support his attainment of higher education or training.

Embrace changes with positivity

Lamenting all of the necessary adjustments of the pandemic doesn’t make for a cheerful atmosphere. Rather than approaching the hiring process with the perspective that remote work and endless video conferencing are annoyances, embrace the changes with hope.

A quick shift to virtual work, or modified in-person work (with PPE and social distancing), gives us new opportunities to express creativity and problem-solve. In the hiring process, incorporate these possibilities into your conversations.

Chat with prospective employees about the benefits of working from home (at least temporarily), their views on balancing safety and efficiency, and how adapting to the pandemic reflects their own work ethic.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it (just adapt it)

A company that stays committed to its mission will be able to maneuver through changing times smoothly for years to come. If the vision and mission were working before the pandemic, there’s no reason to scramble to change it now. Yes, modifications will have to be made with discretion, but a complete overhaul of the company probably isn’t necessary.

The same holds true for hiring during a pandemic. If the system in place was working well to recruit and bring in employees, there’s no reason to trash it. Minor adjustments may need to happen, such as hosting online networking events instead of visiting career fairs, but if your company’s hiring process worked before, it should be able to translate to pandemic times.

Invest in people

Overall, the things people want from a job are not too different during a pandemic. Use the interview and hiring process to invest in the people that add value to your company and fit with the mission. Keep it personal where you can, build up a workplace culture, embrace changes in technology and safety and keep systems that are working well in place.

There are hundreds of reasons to grumble during the pandemic, but bringing qualified and engaged employees into your company shouldn’t be one of them. The smartest move you can make as an employer is to take the time to bolster your most valuable resource – your employees.

At Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP your company’s success is the top priority. There is no better way to invest in your employees than by participating in comprehensive, person-centered EAP services. Call 800-543-5080 today to learn more and get started supporting your employees today.

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