Virtual RoundTable “Talent Acquisition during COVID-19”

Virtual RoundTable “Talent Acquisition during COVID-19”

Angela Franks Virtual RoundTable, HR Insight

“Talent Acquisition during COVID-19”

COVID-19 has forced businesses worldwide to adjust and adapt. Organisations around the globe have taken action to stay productive while responding to the health needs of candidates, employees and customers. 

For generations, hiring new staff was a repetitive process, scan through resumes, bring in top candidates, have multiple in-person interviews, shake hands, and finally, extend an offer. Now, that might be a distant memory. The recruiting and hiring process has changed. From where you’re looking for talent to the interview and onboarding process, social distancing is impacting recruiting in a myriad of ways.

Virtual recruitment has emerged as the go-to method to keep the hiring processes moving while protecting recruiters and candidates. Whilst the change was a little uncomfortable at first, talent acquisition professionals have proved they were up for the task.

And whilst we continue to navigate this “new normal,” COVID-19 has proven it will have both a temporary and enduring effect on the workplace of the future.

Speaking to many of our clients over the past 12 weeks, we noticed a commonality in pressure points and issues that had arisen due to the pandemic and the role that HR and HSE professionals were required to take in order to establish BAU for their businesses and their workforces.

Continuing our series of virtual roundtables, Angela Franks, Head of Frazer Jones Australia, and Michele Beale, Director and Head of Safety, were delighted to host a group of Talent Acquisition professionals from the Financial Services and Professional Services industry sectors. The topic for the virtual roundtable was “Talent Acquisition during COVID-19”.

From the conversation we compiled these key takeaways:-

Hiring talent without meeting face-to-face

While some organisations have instituted hiring freezes during the pandemic, many are still operating, but under unique circumstances. The use of virtual technology to meet and evaluate candidates has almost completely taken over the traditional recruitment method. Whilst initial phone screenings remain the same, the face-to-face interview has almost 100% moved online.

  • Pre-pandemic many companies were very conservative about a virtual approach to recruitment and were reluctant or had no need to move processes online
  • In person meetings are now discouraged by many organisations
  • Companies have now adapted and are learning from those who already had a higher reliance on virtual recruitment
  • Video recruitment has proven its benefits for companies, even in optimal hiring conditions. Individual recruiters and teams leverage the ability to interview essentially on-demand, without juggling interview scheduling
  • Historically most Gen Z job seekers will not apply for a job with an organisation if they think its recruitment methods are outdated, however, the question remains pandemic or not, will candidates applying for senior roles want a start to finish virtual recruitment process?

Pre-hire assessment – getting the right balance of rigorous assessment and candidate experience

New technology has broadened the choice of assessments available and given organisations more ways to understand the skills, abilities and behaviours of candidates. However, the challenge of balance remains.

  • COVID-19 has created an opportunity for companies to review and reimagine the whole assessment process
  • Avoid the trap of trying to apply a one size fits all approach – not all assessments will be right for certain roles
  • While traditional selection methods can provide recruiters with useful information, they often lead to long and dense recruitment processes that are off-putting too many candidates and reflect poorly on an organisations brand image
  • It’s crucial to strike the right balance between scientific assessment tools and cultural or behavioural tools, to take into account both cultural fit of a candidate as well as aptitude for the role
  • Many businesses use online assessments to make candidates feel like it is a comprehensive hiring process, rather than focussing on what they want to achieve from the testing. This needs to change.

Onboarding new talent while all working remotely

While aspects of the assessment and selection phases lend themselves to virtual solutions somewhat easily, onboarding a new hire in their first weeks can be a bit of a challenge.

  • Onboarding is now being done via video conference
  • Companies have started to move their learning and development (L&D) programs online to deliver eLearning materials and training
  • Many businesses are now reporting that now online processes are in place, they are more agile and efficient
  • Some companies are using VR technology to give candidates a tour of the facilities
  • Helping someone feel part of a team comes down to clear information, clear directives, and strong leadership.

Team engagement during a pandemic

In response to social distancing (including work from home policies), it is important to take steps to continue to engage your workforce. The most important focus for management should be clear and consistent communication. With the pandemic constantly changing, employees look to business leaders to remain calm, inform and above all – lead.

  • Redundancies during a crisis can lead to high emotion amongst both those being made redundant as well as those that were not. Feelings of anger, confusion, distress and sadness, as well as ‘survivor guilt’ and uncertainty about their future role in the business. If not managed correctly, these emotions can unsettle a business
  • One method of reducing redundancy ‘survivor guilt’ is to ensure that all individuals are provided with emotional and professional support
  • Another method is to assign people to new projects. Employees quickly gain broader experience while working on a completely new project, with new teams, whilst remaining connected with the previous newly formed team
  • Employee engagement is determined by factors such as feeling clear about your role; having the right materials and equipment to do your job; having the opportunity to do what you do best; and working with a common mission or purpose. Importantly, these are factors that managers can directly influence.
  • When the first wave of COVID-19 hit, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, however with parts of Australia going back into lockdowns, businesses are now faced with new concerns. It is essential for leaders to recommunicate with their employees.

How to build/maintain employer brand when the organisation has reduced its workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of employer brand during a crisis, but there is no playbook for this unprecedented time. Whilst a company cannot control a crisis, it can control how it responds. The choices made now can affect a company’s brand for decades.

  • When a crisis results in a reduction in workforce, companies need to focus on their employer branding and attraction strategies. Future employees would be well aware of the cuts made by organisations, and will think very carefully and differently about companies moving forward. Will they want to work for an organisation that made a large number of redundancies during COVID-19?
  • Regardless of what a company’s EVP states on paper, how the company treats its employees, customers and community during critical times, defines what the employer brand really represents
  • This is an ‘employers’ market’ at the moment, there is a lot of talent out there and when the pandemic is over and the market picks up, the competition will be high.

With the closure of our international borders, how do businesses that rely heavily on international hires find the talent they need domestically.

With approximately one-fifth of the world’s population under a form of “lockdown,” our globalized world looks markedly different from just months ago. Countries around the world have closed their borders to non-citizens and residents and airlines have suspended operations. Companies were not ready for this sudden stop nor were they ready for the impact of this crisis. They now need to address how to effectively manage complex international employment challenges.

  • With borders closed many businesses needed to stop talks with potential international hires, however, whilst international recruitment is currently on hold it is essential for businesses to keep the communication window open. The pandemic will pass, and candidates will want to move again.
  • Some organisations are changing their focus. Move the work to the employee, not the employee to the work, thus avoiding the issue of relocation and immigration issues.
  • But be aware of the tax implications for the company and employee on where and how work is completed.


If you are interested in being part of our conversation and/or would like to join one of our Virtual Round Tables, please get in touch with one of the Frazer Jones team here.