Remote hiring strategies that firms have devised to solve staffing issues amid the Covid-19 crisis will dramatically reframe what prospective employees are looking for before they accept jobs, according to a recent feature at Inc.com. (Inc.com, 12 May 2020)
Penned by the site’s San Francisco Bureau chief Matt Haber, the piece points out that, while the pandemic has spawned widespread job losses, organisations in key sectors such as healthcare and financial services have ramped up their recruitment efforts – and Glassdoor is even maintaining a list of Covid-19 Hiring Surge firms. (Glassdoor, May 2020)
However, the article notes, in the current era, jobseekers are operating in a world of “no handshakes, no office tours and no getting-to-know-you lunches”. Crucially, Haber writes: “For companies that previously tried to stand out by touting fun office perks – beach volleyball courts, office dogs, free lunches and the like – the new hire pitch needs a significant revision. Absent an expensive workplace and swag, a company's culture, mission and career development are bigger draws.”
Mehud Patel, CEO of San Francisco tech careers marketplace Hired, tells Haber that the new normal spells the end of “the arms race around office spaces, slides and massages”. Patel notes: “Companies are getting very good at employer branding, talking culture, sharing videos, trying to convey what it's like to be on a team without stepping foot in an office.”
One company on Patel’s radar has changed its Zoom background to a picture of its office interior to provide candidates with a greater sense of the surroundings in which staff usually work. Another is sending lunch to candidates’ homes as a means of inviting them to ‘lunch meetings’ and make the experiences more welcoming, regardless of where the candidates are based.
Importantly, this watershed is unfolding just 10 months after News & Views reflected on the costly new London HQ of Goldman Sachs, which boasts a smorgasbord of physical perks such as resting rooms for stressed or unwell workers and a sophisticated gym outfitted with a yoga and Pilates studio and steam rooms.
Tom Gimbel – founder and CEO of Chicago-based staffing and recruitment firm LaSalle Network – tells Haber: “Free beer doesn't matter. Culture matters now. Do you actually care about people?”
What should firms factor into their remote hiring strategies to ensure that their organisational cultures shine through in the absence of perks?
The Institute of Leadership & Management’s head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “This is all about living your values. So when we think about those things you say as a leader, such as, ‘Our people come first – we emphasise respect and integrity…’ Well, are those statements genuine? If organisations are genuine, they are doing things such as sending lunches over to prospective employees to make them feel more welcome during Zoom chemistry meetings. They’re setting up initiatives to support their workers’ mental health throughout the crisis. They’re recognising that people need different types of leadership right now, and that staff are working under very different circumstances.
“Employees may be isolated alone, with all the potential that creates for loneliness. They may be jostling for workspace with partners and children in crowded houses or flats. These are the realities of people’s lives that are now being Zoomed into the consciousness of senior leadership teams. So the firms that say, ‘We get you – we understand what you’re going through and we will support you,” will certainly have the advantage.”
Cooper notes: “It does seem like centuries ago when we were commenting on Goldman Sachs’ London HQ, with its high-end gym and Pilates studio. But at a time when people have been flocking to Joe Wicks’ online fitness routines, we can see that workers are eminently capable of meeting their own physical exercise needs. What they can’t do by themselves is feel cared for by their employer. With that in mind, firms must distinguish themselves by showing what they are already doing on this front – not roll out an aspirational wish list, but state the measures they have put in place and how staff have benefitted.
“For example,” she adds, “did we get them the best kit early on in the crisis? Were we less bureaucratic about our requisitioning process? Have we cleared red tape out of employees’ way? That one’s particularly important, considering how red tape acts as a trust barrier. Are we empowering our people with training for any new technologies they may now have to use? And are we keeping any negotiations about what works and what makes sense at the lowest possible level – ie, team level – so that we’re not trying to impose authorisation for, say, flexible working directly from the centre?”
For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on developing strategy