Developing a virtual recruitment and onboarding strategy is key to attracting the best talent in an increasing remote working environment.
Even before the global health crisis struck earlier this year, many organisations were shifting towards an increasingly remote working environment. Supported by a wide range of fast-developing digital platforms, the demand of employees for more flexible hours and less commuting time, among other factors, was beginning to be met.
Over the past decade, the proportion of jobs where people work mainly from home has increased by 80%. Before the pandemic struck, 5.3% of jobs in the UK were worked mainly from home, around 1.8 million people.
Of course, no one could have predicted what was to happen at the beginning of the year. In April 2020, the Office for National Statistics highlighted that 49.2% of adults in employment in the UK were mainly working remotely, due to government measures introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. This became even more pronounced in June, where 38% of those in employment were working exclusively from home. In short, the pandemic has simply sped up the drive towards greater remote working that statistics suggested was inevitable.
So, what does this mean for hiring and onboarding? Uncertainty about returning to offices has forced adaptation. Whilst many organisations were digitising their recruitment strategies even before, the pandemic has forced every HR department to redesign theirs for an increasingly remote workforce. Whilst it may seem like an intimidating transition for some companies to make, others have proven just how effective it can be.
In a survey conducted in April 2020, 61% of recruiters asked said they were using video calls as part of the screening process, with 80% using video at the interview stage. This shows that the need to digitise recruitment strategies is being recognised.
It seems that people are responding well to these changes. 72% of those asked in the UK, who work in tech-orientated companies, said they were likely to accept a job without visiting the office. This is supported by the fact that we are more connected than ever. The Office of Communications (OFCOM) reported that superfast broadband coverage reached an impressive 95% of residential homes in the UK last year. This should reassure employers that people in the UK are still open to pursuing new roles remotely.
It also raises another question. Bringing potential hires to the office is an integral aspect of selling the company and its values. How do you do that virtually? For a start, social media presence is more important than ever for supporting the recruitment process and projecting a company's values.
According to Jobvite,
‘’58% of recruiters said they are increasingly using social to promote their employer brand and connect with talent in the COVID-19 period. 46% of respondents said they were doing more social posting to advertise jobs to recruit new talent.’’
It may seem intimidating for companies that have a longstanding, more physical face-to-face hiring and onboarding process. Thankfully, digital tools have emerged over the past decade to support the transition to more virtual strategies.
Onboarding has perhaps been the most difficult part for organisations to coordinate effectively. It’s worth bearing in mind we haven’t even seen the true economic impact of the pandemic yet. It’s a suitable time to reflect on the saying that retention is just as, if not more important than, recruitment - especially during these times. How well you structure your hiring and onboarding strategy virtually, might make all the difference in eventually keeping the best talent in your organisation once hired.
Therefore, more experts are recognising that the onboarding process needs to last beyond just their induction week.
‘’Last year, we conducted research and found that employee enthusiasm for work peaks at the start of a new job but wanes by 22 percent shortly thereafter. Companies need to think about how they are ensuring their employees feel like they are valued and heard", said Pat Wadors, chief talent officer and CHRO at ServiceNow.
The importance of this shift is being adopted by recruiters. 73% of those surveyed indicated that they are using video and online meetings to help the onboarding process.
In March, LinkedIn launched their new virtual onboarding process, showing how it could be broken down to remain interesting and effective. Kelly Chuck, a Learning Partner at LinkedIn, said
"We didn't want to transition everything into a full day virtually because we weren't sure how new hires would respond after home life for so many people has changed so much. We felt we could best do that with shorter bursts spread over a week to allow flexibility with working from home, and then we could adapt as needed."
Their one-week onboarding programme includes regular check-ins with the new hires, and features introductions to company resources, video welcomes from executives, and more light-hearted team building activities.
Remote working doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, according to some of the UK’s largest organisations. In a PwC survey conducted this year, 86% of the 96 UK executives asked, see a long-term shift towards more remote working enduring beyond the pandemic.
Big employers such as Standard Life Aberdeen and NatWest Group, have announced that staff won’t be returning to the office until early next year. Virgin Money, the UK’s sixth-largest bank with 8,500 workers, has gone even further. They’ve speculated that non consumer-facing employees would spend most of their time working from home in the future (FT).
This reflects the fact that the future of hiring and onboarding would then too, be conducted remotely. Developing a robust and effective virtual recruitment strategy to do so could be the key to bringing in and retaining the best talent in the new normal.