The recent jobs numbers offered a glimmer of optimism to those hoping for a quick rebound to the nation’s economy after months of forced shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. And sure enough, due to an unquenched demand for talent, some industries never hit pause on their hiring when the economy ground to a halt in mid-March. Throughout the pandemic, many hiring professionals in those industries have been adjusting on the fly to keep their talent pipelines flowing with quality candidates.

For example, since mid-March, Andrea O’Brien, a talent-acquisition specialist at pharmaceutical advertising agency Dudnyk, has personally onboarded four new full-time employees — remotely — with no sign of a slowdown. She explains that while her company was fully “onsite” prior to the virus, “we had to adapt our process swiftly once the lockdowns hit.”

For instance, Andrea’s team was already utilizing a buddy-system approach that pairs new hires with tenured workers long before the economic disruption hit. However, she explains that while “normally, a typical new hire would get treated to lunch with their buddy within the first week these days, those lunches now take place on Zoom instead of in a restaurant.”

Beyond such adaptations, Andrea points out that the key to new-hire success has been checking in often during the onboarding process. Indeed, Checkster, a provider of talent and hiring tools, recently conducted a survey of 400 hiring managers across the United States who are still hiring during the pandemic. Findings found that 72% of them said it was extremely or very important to check in with new hires. (Only 1% said it was “not important at all.”) 

“It may be more challenging to adjust to a new company when working from home, since it is more difficult for new hires to have casual conversations with those around them to share questions or concerns,” the Checkster report states. “In addition, new employees may have additional needs and stressors due to COVID-19, making it paramount that managers have a way of checking in with new team members.” 

Yet the survey also reveals that 60% of hiring managers have no formal way of checking in with new hires remotely — which doesn’t necessarily mean that their companies don’t value a good check-in. It’s just that it may not always be formal.

While a formal check-in process (like scheduled weekly calls) may help new workers feel valued and listened to, it may not produce the most useful information due to its scripted nature. Meanwhile, an informal process (unscheduled emails, texts, phone calls) may yield more spontaneous — and therefore more authentic — responses from new workers.

Ultimately, companies that use a variety of remote tools to stay connected with candidates have a better chance at sustained success. To that end, Checkster found that the most common check-in method was a phone call (31%), followed by an online survey (28%), and video check-in (27%). 

As the research points out: “[I]ncorporating more remote methods will ensure that your company is better prepared not only for this pandemic, but that you are more resilient and ready for any transition or crisis in the future.” 

Ultimately, regardless of the exact tools you choose, a successful remote-hiring program is within reach for every organization. As Andrea puts it: “For a role that is currently remote, with an uncertain future about what returning to the workplace may look like, transparency is extremely important when discussing all the unknowns with candidates and new hires.”

This was initially written by Bruce Marable and published on the ERE Recruiting Intelligence blog here.

Bruce Marable is co-Founder and CEO of Employee Cycle, a people dashboard company that automates HR reporting and analytics.

Leave a Reply