The Coronavirus outbreak has caused us all to evolve and adapt in many ways. We’ve been left with uncertainty, a lot of questions and we’ve been speaking to clients who are curious to know how this will impact their ability to hire. Not all employers are in a position to put recruitment on hold and wait for this strange time to be a distant memory. In fact, some are using this as their chance to have their pick of the strongest candidates in the market.
We’re going to talk you through the changes in the market, the recruitment process and share some consultative advice that you may find useful for maximising opportunities and minimising risks so that regardless of COVID-19, you can continue to hire top talent for your Block Management teams.
What is the market looking like at present?
During the first week of lockdown, we saw recruitment take a back seat, as expected. Whilst people were navigating through their new home working set up, ensuring their teams were fully functioning and reading up on any changes to the industry, we saw close to 50% of the employers we were working with freeze their recruitment and others remained sceptical. Candidates were still actively looking and had a lot of questions around how the process would now work and whether employers would still be prepared to interview them.
A few weeks on and we’ve seen recruitment pick up. Employers have realised that as we face a time where nobody knows when we’re likely to be going back to ‘normal’, they need to evolve and work with the climate rather than against it. We’re working on Property Manager and Senior Management roles across the UK at present and with Hiring Managers having more time to work even more closely with us, we’ve built a stronger rapport which in turn has enabled us to really understand their business, the pressures on them and the type of candidate that is best suited to them. We’ve been advising candidates and clients daily on changes and new findings, providing consultative advice across the board. We’re working in true partnership which is where we see the best results and retention rates. Candidates are more active than they have been all year with more being able to dedicate time to their job search, interview at short notice, and with many being furloughed, we’ve seen new candidates join the active marketplace.
So, how can you use this opportunity to continue to recruit?
The first, most important thing to look at is what it is you’re actually looking for. Identify the skills gap in your business and the attributes that would make this person successful. A useful exercise is to highlight someone in the business that is doing well and adds value to your business, an ‘avatar employee’ if you like, and look at what it is that makes you think that – both behavioural and skill based. Then, build out interview questions and testing criteria to check whether prospective candidates have the potential to be just as good.
You then need to check in with yourself to make sure you’re prepared to hire without meeting a candidate face to face. You wouldn’t want to waste your time or theirs, nor would you want to impact your employer brand by providing a negative candidate experience.
It’s time to evolve and make technology your friend. You may want to remain open-minded when recruiting for your team over the next few months and test whether different methods of hiring could work for you, perhaps they may even result in being more effective than your current methods of recruiting. You may even find that you want to continue to use these even when we come out the other side.
Solution Number 1 – Telephone Interviews
A lot of employers already use telephone interviews as part of their hiring process. You could look to have initial conversations with potential candidates over the phone. You’ll still be able to identify whether candidates have the suitable experience and skill set for the position you’re recruiting for. You’re also still able to gauge their character as a person. Ensure you’re asking the right questions in order to gain the information you’re looking for.
Solution Number 2 – Video Interview
If you prefer to “see” candidates when interviewing, you could hold a video interview. You could look to hold these through Zoom Meetings (https://zoom.us/) or through a WhatsApp video call. For many, this can feel the same as interviewing in person, just virtually! You also have the added bonus of being able to record these interviews (as long as you’ve got their permission) to be able to watch back or share with your colleagues – a benefit you don’t have when interviewing in person.
Solution Number 3 – Testing
Some employers carry out tests as part of their interview process. Look at how you can make these accessible to candidates so they’re able to complete these from home / online. If your tests are more skill-based, you may want to look at the possibility of hiring for cultural fit instead and have candidates complete a profile test online. https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test and https://www.personalityperfect.com/ are good ones to use!
How you decide to conduct interviews and manage your hiring process moving forward will speak volumes for your employer branding. It’s a great opportunity to create a standout hiring process. You may find yourselves outside of your comfort zone when adopting new methods of recruitment and they say this is where you learn most. Bring awareness to how well these new methods of recruiting compare to what you’ve historically implemented and whether you’ve achieved better results.
You can still hire a candidate that meets your requirements and is the right cultural fit for your company without meeting them in person. If you remain open-minded and solutions focused, you won’t have any problems with recruiting.
You’ve hired. Your new employee is set to start. How can you onboard them?
Preparation is key. If you have company laptops, phones, etc. that your new employee will be using, you’ll need to ensure that you have these posted and received by their start date. Delivery companies are still operating, you may just choose to allow for more time for these to reach your new team member.
Something useful to remember is it’s ok for this to be a new experience, for both you and your new team member. I’ve spoken to a few Clients that actually found it an exciting, new way of onboarding that they’d use again for remote workers even after COVID-19. The more curiosity you bring to learning how to adapt your process, the more effectively you’ll onboard. Here’s some advice on things you may want to think about…
Channel employee engagement even before they start. Perhaps you could send a welcome pack, with branded goods. You could include your new employee in company updates and news, sharing positive things that are happening within the business to make them feel included and at ease ahead of their start date knowing the company is doing well. It’s also a great way to introduce them to your company culture.
Check in the week before they start. Ensure what you’ve posted has arrived, they have access to everything they need and give reassurance. You can share tips and experiences for positive, productive home working that they may find useful. Some of ours are here. You might want to bring awareness to the language you use and keep the experience positive. If you make a note to stick to positive talk only, it’s likely to be a more engaging, fun process for all. Hold a video call on the morning of their first day, share your screen with them to show them around the new systems. There are so many ways you can talk through systems and processes online, similar to how you would in an office.
On their first day, host a video call, ask your team to be in on the call and to introduce themselves. You could even prepare a few fun questions and get to know each other better over the call. A great way to feel connected.
Use a buddy system, which some already do! Whilst also providing check in points as a Manager, you could pair your new employee with an existing one, they could even have lunch together virtually on the first day!
Check in regularly and remain open for support. Starting a new job can be a daunting time for some, by remaining in contact with your new employee who may feel reluctant to call with questions, you will certainly put them at ease.
As a lot of employers already are, look at new ways to keep your team engaged, connected and keep morale high. This is more likely to make it a positive experience for your new employee and your existing team too. Some of our ideas can be found here.
If you used a recruitment agent to help find your new employee, you could speak to them about their aftercare plans. We have developed a full process dedicated to candidate and client aftercare which includes regular check ins, offering support and consultative advice. Your recruiter could be very useful at this point. We want you to keep this person engaged and retain them long term, having that extra level of support to both you and the newly employed team member may be more helpful now than ever.
What does the future hold for recruitment in the Block Management sector?
This won’t last forever. We will come out the other side and our businesses will be stronger for it. As we’ve said, you may discover new ways or recruiting staff and keeping your employees engaged that you wouldn’t have discovered if it wasn’t for this shift in normality.
Throughout all of this, we have been given the gift of time. Something a lot of us complain about having very little of. It may be the perfect time to reflect, evaluate and build. Identify potential skill gaps within your business, forward plan, think about your ‘avatar employee’ and how you could perhaps better communicate that criteria to an agent or to the marketplace yourself to improve your recruitment and retention success rates. Build on your employer branding by being innovative and market leaders in a time of uncertainty. Be the company people remember after this. It’s an opportunity to stand out and be different, challenging your existing processes and improving as a result, your recruitment process included.
When we come out the other side, we predict a boom in recruitment. Blocks still need to be managed and Developers are likely to push for completion. You’re going to need the right people in your business to survive. You’ve been given the perfect opportunity to find them and have them ready for when that happens. All you need to do is use it and take action.