Since COVID-19 hit in March of this year, almost everything about our work and our lives has been disrupted and turned upside down. For instance, HR teams practically overnight have had to figure out how to enable their employees to work from home. And companies in industries highly impacted by the pandemic are laying off, furloughing, or reassigning employees to new positions.
In short, many are learning that remaining agile is critical for survival; yet they’re not completely sure what it takes to navigate this unchartered territory. What does all this mean for RPO providers? That helping clients meet their most pressing recruitment challenges now goes hand-in-hand with guiding them on how to be more agile in their recruiting approach. We recently brought together a terrific team of RPO leaders to talk about just that and we’ll be covering their helpful insights and (mostly) upbeat outlooks over several posts.
Moderated by RPOA advisory board member Michelle Krier, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for ClearEdge Marketing, the webinar, “Recruiting Agility: Keeping Your Recruiting Agile Beyond a Crisis,” is part of the RPOA Leadership Forum, a virtual conversation with RPO and TA leaders who come together to educate the marketplace about RPO.
In this post, Krier and our other panelists discuss how they as RPO providers have witnessed their clients adopting agile principles in response to the pandemic, and why they’re optimistic there are benefits to be realized from this crisis.
Getting Clients to a State of Agility
If there’s one thing everyone agrees on it’s that the business world is unlikely to ever be quite the same as it was pre-pandemic. Organizations have begun to realize and accept they must learn to adapt and, in many cases, start from scratch. Digital transformations are being accelerated, automation is speeding up, and the way candidates are being found, vetted, and hired is rapidly changing right before their eyes.
Joe Marino, EVP at Hueman, plays an active role in helping clients engage remote team members. The consensus amongst his clients, he says, has been that “everyone thinks things will change, but they’re not exactly sure what that will look like.” Many clients are continuing to pull back and need reassurance there’s a way to move forward.
Looking ahead, companies will remain in a state of flux in many ways as they figure out what each of their “new normals” will look like. Will they be able to quickly adapt to a virtual recruitment process? Does “being agile” mean the same thing to every organization? No one knows anything for certain, but our panelists concur that, while the pandemic has upended many companies’ recruiting practices, all in all, it has been for the better.
Current State of Hiring Needs
Jason Krumwiede, Senior VP, Client Delivery at Broadleaf Results, says despite “the complete uncertainty about where things are going to go,” the value proposition of an RPO solution and partnership “has never been stronger.” In the past four months, Broadleaf has seen a 60 percent dip in overall hiring needs, but its clients remain committed to their partnership because they see the value in how during uncertain times RPOs are able to scale up or down as hiring demand swings. “Being a strategic partner to our clients,” he says, has allowed Broadleaf to “continue its relationships during this time.”
“We actually saw a lot of different reactions happen across the country,” says Marino. In the beginning, the impact of COVID on Heuman’s clients was mixed, with some seeing an increase in hiring activity. The provider typically places about 22,000 hires per year and did experience a decline once the lockdown went into force. In the past few weeks, however, it’s seen about a 90 percent increase in client activities, with companies increasing their demand for certain positions that had been on hold for a couple of months. While the situation still changes week to week, overall Heuman has seen an increased demand for hiring, and the time spent learning to be more agile has made rolling with the process much easier.
One big change Patty Silbert, President of Newton Talent, has seen is that organizations are assessing the skills they have in-house and determining how they can in some way be redeployed throughout the business to keep it going. They want, she says, “to keep the business moving ahead,” but they also realize “people can work remote and still get their work done.” As she sees it, the opportunities here are:
- What are the skills we need?
- Who's able to take on the position?
- How do we continue to keep the businesses moving forward?
Silbert thinks RPO providers should take advantage of this opening to educate their clients on how companies that are leading with the message they value a candidate’s desire to work remotely are going to “win out at the end of the day.” Instead of being staunchly against work-from-home—which sometimes affected who they were able to bring into the organization—companies are starting to realize they can tap into a much bigger talent pipeline with this one relatively small shift.
A Move to Remote Hiring
As most candidates right now aren’t looking to move jobs, another crucial way RPO providers can help their clients is by getting them ahead of sourcing and recruiting so they’re prepared when the need emerges. For Krumwiede, that means talking to clients about changing the process to include hiring remotely. Video interviewing is likely here to stay, he says, and that has changed the role of the recruiter.
The typical path of a recruiter doing a phone screen and then passing the candidate on to a supervisor who interviews them on-site has shifted to recruiters making the selection decisions, especially with high-volume workers. And while everyone knows supervisors like control over the process, they have, in Krumwiede’s experience, come to appreciate this turn of events. Why? Because they’ve “regained a huge portion of their day to focus on existing employees, coaching, and developing those employees,” he says.
This, in the end, could be one of the greatest benefits that comes out of the health crisis: RPO providers engaging with hiring managers in a different way and getting them ready for the next step, whatever that might be.