Attracting and retaining top talent in the new normal

This article by Andy Young was published in The Shout, September 2020 edition

The process of recruitment has seen huge changes this year with lasting impacts on how businesses attract, recruit and onboard talent, but as BrightSide Executive Search has revealed while there are positive experiences, there are many key lessons to be learned.

Candidates who have secured and started new roles since March, have provided important insights into how they view the future way of working, as BrightSide’s Founders Sue Lauritz and Amber King have told The Shout.

“There are positive shared experiences with online interviews and remote onboarding and an overwhelming desire for flexibility especially around the option of working from home, for at least part of the week,” Lauritz said. “It’s increasingly clear that flexible working arrangements will be a must, not a nice to have, if you want to attract and retain top talent.”

She added: “It appears that Zoom interviews are proving to be effective and are likely to be an ongoing hiring tool used by businesses particularly when quick or interstate hires are required.

“We encourage clients to treat a Zoom interview as they would a face to face meeting.  “Dress professionally, you are still representing your company and the brand so reflect this in how you present yourself. Ensure you’ve done your prep, allowed enough time and ensure it’s a positive experience as candidates share their experiences with their network.”

King told The Shout that hiring companies need to ensure they have a strong online presence.

“Potential new hires will regularly check out the hiring manager and company online,” King told The Shout.

“Does your online presence demonstrate what you stand for and your culture? Your website, social media channels and digital footprint should reflect who you are. An SEO audit will show how you’re doing from a search perspective and if there is more work to do to shine online.”

Onboarding has also change hugely in the COVID-era, but is no less important with reports that companies with the greatest capabilities around employee onboarding and retention achieve significantly higher revenue growth than the least capable companies.

But how is this affected in a virtual world? According to King, online employee onboarding should replicate the benefits of in-person onboarding, however also exploiting the opportunities of online to deliver a positive experience.

She said there are three key areas to consider for remote onboarding, in “Culture, productivity and engagement”.

“Culture is what holds the business together and it starts with effective onboarding as new hires quickly form a view of the company they’ve joined,” King said.

“Assign the employee with a ‘virtual buddy’, someone that can offer general support without them having to rely on asking their new manager each time they have a Q.

“Use online tools such as pop-up messages so everyone is made aware of the new starter and can begin to get to know them. Don’t forget you can still celebrate important events and achievements over a video call.”

King added: “Your online onboarding also needs to equip, guide and support new employees to become productive asap.

“It does require more planning but is worth the effort. Ensure the obvious; that the employee has all their technology requirements. If they’re using their own computer, do they have the necessary systems and software?

“Create an onboarding schedule with planned activities to immerse the employee in their new role. Have a balance between meeting colleagues, learning systems, reviewing material and checking in with HR or their manager. Provide a digital org chart, ideally with a hyperlink with each staff member with their profile details, picture etc.”

During COVID-times many clients are pivoting to the creation of onboarding video suites ensuring every new employee has a consistent onboarding experience. This use of pre-filmed video can include role overviews, company culture, welcome messages from direct reports and the CEO. These videos are easily tweaked to cover new hires and become a cost effective option especially given the current environment.

Lauritz also told The Shout that another key factor to consider is that one of the biggest risks in working remotely is the sense of isolation.

“It’s difficult to check in too often when onboarding new employees,” Lauritz said.

“When they’re early in their journey with you they need guidance and appreciate support. Begin with daily check-ins during the first week, either with the HR Manager or their line manager, then twice-weekly for the first month. These needn’t be full-on meetings.

“Employers shouldn’t take for granted the current access to good talent in the market.  Whilst candidates out of work have a need to get back into the employment market, the majority remain selective in choosing businesses that will offer them flexibility and that aligns to their values.

“Candidates who are currently in roles are highly risk adverse and it’s often a case of ‘the better the devil you know’. It’s absolutely critical to be progressive and offer flexibility and to get the recruitment and onboarding process right to continue to attract and retain talent in these changing times.”

Lauritz added: “BrightSide continues to work closely and provide recruitment support to our valued liquor and retail clients. Our competitive flat fee structure remains in place for the duration of 2020 to help clients access the right candidates for the right roles as efficiently as possible.”