covid-19 recruitment

COVID-19: How companies can modernise their recruitment strategy

covid-19 recruitment
According to Indeed, 2021 began with an estimated 1.69 million out of work in the UK. The pandemic has changed recruitment quite drastically as many businesses have already found out.

Whether you’re in a position to recruit now or not, most will hope to continue or scale their recruitment as the pandemic eases.

In preparation for this, it’s important to think about how you can modernise your hiring and recruitment strategy.

Doing so will help you gain a competitive advantage when more roles begin to open up and will put your company at the forefront of recruitment as companies begin to scale their hiring efforts.

You’ll be able to overcome the key challenges that the new world of work and recruitment will present, and you’ll be able to recruit for all areas of the business in the most effective manner.


The key challenges in a new world of recruitment

With such a huge number of people currently out of work, many would assume this would create a surplus of candidates for HR.

However, many know this isn’t the case and respondents in PwC’s annual CEO survey reported that skills needed are “in short supply”.

This means that, even with so many out of work due to the pandemic, finding ‘the perfect candidate’, which many companies often go in search of, has become even more difficult.

Even when restrictions are eased and demand for jobs has increased, finding what many companies have traditionally considered to be the ideal candidates won’t be easy.

So, how can companies modernise their recruitment strategy to overcome these new challenges?


covid-19 recruitment

Unearthing hidden workers

Important research published in the Harvard Business Review at the end of 2020 highlighted the importance that ‘hidden workers’ will have in this new world of recruitment.

The article in HBR refers to ‘hidden workers’ as those who are out of work and are struggling to make the transition to the workplace for one reason or another.

They don’t fit the description of ‘the perfect candidate’ and as such they often don’t make it even as far as the interview process. ‘Hidden workers’ may then find themselves disillusioned after so many rejections and abandon their search for work altogether.


Segments of hidden workers

‘Hidden workers’ might include:

  • Caregivers and those who have been forced to drop out of full-time or part-time work due to childcare or eldercare commitments for example
  • Older workers who are highly skilled and highly experienced but may be overlooked due to their age
  • Workers with physical or mental health issues who are sometimes overlooked as a result
  • Those who’ve faced mental health challenges, homelessness or substance abuse in the past and are looking to get back on track.


HBR estimated that there were over 28 million ‘hidden workers’ in the U.S. in 2019 despite historically low unemployment.

What this represents is a vast, untapped talent pool that employers have access to in order to fill new roles in whichever countries your company operates in.


How companies can dismantle these barriers and modernise their approach

Accessing this talent pool requires a shift in attitude and a proactive approach to dismantling the barriers that may have been inadvertently placed in the way of ‘hidden workers’, preventing them from being considered or hired by a company.

It requires a focus on finding employees with the right skills rather than finding the ideal candidate.

Participating in programmes or working with companies to help individuals who’ve faced challenges with mental health or homelessness get back into the workplace could help dismantle barriers to ‘hidden workers’.

Just by improving accessibility in everything you do, from recruitment to onboarding to training, to help those with disabilities, you open your company up to a huge range of talent.

Just these practices as examples could make hiring ‘hidden workers’ a possibility for your company and will help significantly modernise your recruitment strategy.


covid-19 recruitment

Open hiring

You may have heard of open hiring before. In a nutshell, it’s hiring employees with no CV’s and strips back many of the costly recruitment processes companies traditionally use.

It focuses primarily on human potential and helps provide vital opportunities for those struggling to get into employment.

It may not be a feasible practice for all employers, but it is said to be hugely beneficial for companies who recruit a lot of entry-level workers.

This approach shifts resources to invest in employees and their progression and is an important and highly ethical practice.


The role of open hiring in the new recruitment landscape

The effects of the pandemic will leave many out of work and disadvantaged. It has already impacted families and forced people out of work, while the financial and heath effects have taken their toll too.

With a focus on human potential, open hiring not only helps get people back into work but helps them to progress and realise their potential too.

While conventional hiring may hire the same or a similar number of employees, the potential for learning, development and ultimately progression beyond that point is much greater with open hiring.

This is exactly what many people need. It gives those who have been hit hard by the pandemic a way to not only restart their career but to progress too which will be vital in rebuilding their finances and helping them support their families in the long-term.

This approach could support whole communities and help families to rebuild.


covid-19 recruitment

Modernising your employee benefits offering

Employees’ needs and priorities have shifted dramatically due to the pandemic, so it’s important to review, update and modernise your employee benefits offering.

From a recruitment point of view, there’s an opportunity for businesses to create real competitive advantage in recruiting top talent by providing employee benefits that help meet these new needs.

For example, popularity in cycling has skyrocketed since the pandemic began and so the Bike to Work scheme has become incredibly popular. Other benefits such as the Technology Scheme and Holiday Trading have also surged in popularity as employees’ needs have changed.

The question is, what are employees’ key priorities now? Financial wellbeing and health and wellbeing are two areas that immediately stand out and your employee benefits proposition must help meet the need for strong financial wellbeing and good health in the modern workplace.

Due to the effects of the pandemic, employers may find it difficult to hand out higher salaries or pay rises too, which makes an attractive employee benefits proposition even more important for recruitment.

According to research by One Medical, 69% of employees said they would choose one employer over another if they offered better employee benefits.

Pulling together different employee benefits from different providers can be time-consuming and costly. However, an independent employee benefits provider can help streamline the whole process and reduce the cost, making the process quicker and easier to fit into your budget.

For more information, browse through our wide range of employee benefits or get in touch today and we’ll streamline the whole process at a cost that suits you, helping provide your business with a real competitive advantage in recruiting in a new working world.


Use of language in job adverts

Research by Openreach into their recruitment process found that the use of language within their job adverts was deterring a certain demographic of applicants.

Inadvertent use of masculine language in Openreach job adverts was flagged by female respondents in their research as being one of the main reasons for them not applying.

Removing barriers to application is a key theme in recruitment for 2021 and beyond and while overly masculine or feminine language in job adverts may be inadvertent most of the time, it’s important for employers to review this and recognise where barriers such as these may lie across their recruitment process.

Weeding out these barriers may involve testing. Take a typical job advert you may have running currently or have run previously and test a new job advert alongside it, preferably running the new advert on same platform as the original advert keeping as many variables as possible to a minimum.

Monitor the demographics of applicants to each job advert and see if there’s a difference. If there’s a marked difference, then reviewing your job adverts may need to be a priority.

The research by Openreach is very new and so further research may be needed by other organisations to verify its findings. However, one important aspect of modernising any area of your business is to be an early adopter of any new trends.

We could be seeing the beginning of employers reviewing the language used in their job adverts and so writing adverts based on this research, removing as many barriers to applications as possible, will help modernise your recruitment strategy.


covid-19 recruitment

For employers, the new world of recruitment presents a fantastic opportunity to gain a real competitive advantage in recruiting top talent and building a strong and high-performing team.

There are many changes to be wary of and if there’s one thing we’ve learned since the pandemic hit is that we often don’t know what’s around the corner!

Of all the things you can do to improve your recruitment strategy, perhaps the most important thing you can do is increase your awareness of the macro-environment and all the forces acting on your company and industry and how these will affect recruitment.

Keeping up to date with the latest political and economic changes will be paramount, but the rewards for doing so are there to be gained.