You don’t have to be a labor analyst or market researcher to know that the world of work today looks much different than it did at the end of 2019. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic seems, at last, to be waning, we are faced with new, post-pandemic challenges.
Among the most significant of these challenges are the effects of what appears to be an entrenched labor shortage combined with the emergence of a new and perhaps even more threatening phenomenon: The Great Resignation.
These new post-pandemic realities have, indeed, changed the recruiting landscape for good. However, the news is by no means all bad. If there is any good to be found in the pandemic, it may well be in the new operational agility and employee-first orientation that COVID-19 seems to have engendered.
This article examines the impact of the pandemic on recruiting practices and what this means for the future of work.
Evolving employee needs
The pandemic didn’t just change businesses. It also changed workers. That means that the tried and true recruiting practices that might have yielded tremendous results just five years ago may be obsolete today.
A fair wage and a generous benefits package that includes health and retirement, for example, is likely not going to be sufficient to attract workers in the wake of the pandemic. Indeed, research into current labor trends suggests that workers’ needs and expectations for their work lives have greatly evolved as a result of the pandemic.
The protracted lockdowns and layoffs, for instance, have given workers time to reevaluate their priorities, values, and needs when it comes to their careers. That means that workers who have spent the last two years largely in isolation and menaced by the threat of the virus to their health and the health of those they love may not exactly be willing to return to the rat race.
Effective recruiting in the post-pandemic era, then, must prioritize the diverse and often complex needs of employees. For example, in the wake of the pandemic, your employees may have become care providers for aging parents who have come to live with them following the outbreak. Similarly, the transition to remote learning may have transformed many of your prospects into permanently homeschooling parents.
What this means, in other words, is that your employees, now more than ever, are prioritizing work/life balance, and they’re actively seeking employers who will help them achieve it. Thus, to better prepare for the post-pandemic workplace, recruiters may well need to revise their practices to demonstrate to potential employees that the company understands how employee needs and the future of work, in general, are changing. After all, no prospect wants to commit to a company that is behind the curve, unwilling to keep up with labor trends and the expectations of an ever-changing workforce.
For instance, offering hybrid and remote work options or flex time can be an important selling point for a workforce increasingly resistant to the traditional 40-hour, 9-to-5, on-campus work week.
As for activities and incentives, look into providing gifts or prizes related that encourage work-life balance. Examples include home workout equipment or online classes. Home improvement goodies would also be great: discount coupons for standing desks, comfy mattresses, or beautiful plants to refresh their workspace.
Related reading: learn how to create a sustainable employer branding to attract top talent and match employee needs.
Expanding the talent pool
One of the most exciting changes that the pandemic has brought to the recruiting process is the immense expansion of the talent pool, thanks to telecommuting. Because so many businesses have transitioned their business model to remote or hybrid environments, that means that, nowadays, the whole world is your talent pool.
To maximize the opportunities created by the post-pandemic virtualization of the modern office space, recruiters will need to adopt new recruiting practices, expanding the scope of their search far beyond the traditional geographic boundaries they might once have adhered to.
To be sure, this can feel like a formidable challenge when you’re used to looking locally for new talent. However, by setting goals to recruit a specified number of out-of-state or even international workers, you’ll be better able to galvanize your new headhunting strategy and define the parameters by which you’ll define success in your approach.
Even more excitingly, perhaps, you will also be able to create actionable goals for your entire organization, particularly those surrounding diversity, inclusion, and globalization.
This is particularly significant in the post-COVID era, as female and minority workers may face increased challenges in taking on a traditional, on-campus job due to the life changes borne of the pandemic.
Without the commitment to virtual recruiting and employment, then, historically marginalized groups may again be denied access to jobs, decreasing rather than supporting diversity in your organization.
A commitment to social, emotional, and mental wellbeing
There’s no question that the pandemic has touched nearly every aspect of our lives, from the ways we work and learn to the ways we build relationships and engage with one another. For many, the results have not been good.
Research has shown, for example, that nearly half of all adults in the United States report that the pandemic has harmed their mental health.
Now that the pandemic seems to be abating and employers and employees all around the world are beginning to construct a new post-pandemic normal, an emphasis on the overall wellbeing of one’s workforce should be top-of-mind for recruiters. At a minimum, employees should be provided with health benefits that include mental healthcare as well as telemedicine services for on-demand support when needed.
Ideally, however, employers in the post-COVID era would institute programs that would enable employees to enhance their quality of life as they endeavor to recover from the collective trauma that the world has experienced in the last three years. For instance, a company that offers an intramural athletics team can have a lot of appeal for employees who are looking to regain a sense of normalcy while benefiting from the social, physical, and mental health benefits of competitive sports.
As a recruiter, indeed, it may not have occurred to you before the pandemic to boast about your company’s baseball team or bowling club. In the new normal, though, making the fun perk a part of your sales pitch can attract talent hungry for a return to fun and levity in life.
Recruiting today has changed significantly from what it once was. Thanks to the pandemic, workers’ needs are more complex, their priorities more nuanced. Successful recruiters must evolve to accommodate those shifts. Fortunately, there is a range of options that can enable you to recruit the most desirable workers while driving the recovery and growth of your company.