Businesses that don’t reassess their hiring practices will sink in the post-pandemic world

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Source: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle.

Many employers are waking up to the post-pandemic reality and starting to completely rethink their hiring practices. It’s safe to say we’re in a talent war and unless you’re considering different ways to attract, engage and retain people, you will struggle to recruit good quality staff. 

Jobseekers are demanding flexibility. Depending on the type of work involved, that might mean allowing people to work from home a couple of days a week or offering a nine-day fortnight. In fact, a September 2021 research paper from the Productivity Commission found three-quarters of workers surveyed felt they were at least as productive when working from home compared to the office, a view that employers largely agreed with. 

As a lot of companies are discovering, being more flexible with remote working is achievable. On the flip side, companies that aren’t willing to consider work-from-home options are finding, or will soon find, that jobseekers will seek out other options. As the Productivity Commission paper notes, anecdotal evidence shows many employees are leaving their jobs for more flexible positions. 

Given the tight labour market, employers will also need to let go of unconsciously or consciously held views on what a suitable or perfect candidate might look like. In the past, there was undoubtedly some level of unconscious bias when hiring, even though employers would not consider themselves ageist or sexist. The talent war is changing that, and we’re now in a good market environment to test employers’ willingness to be more open-minded. The pool of people is much bigger when you consider mature aged candidates, traditionally “underqualified” candidates, candidates with small children and people with transferable skills who are quick leaners. 

While it’s definitely a jobseeker’s market, employers should still review candidates carefully. A top priority when hiring should be candidates with emotional intelligence. Many skills can be taught through good onboarding and ongoing training, but emotional intelligence is harder to teach and if an employee doesn’t have it by age 50, they never will. Employers and jobseekers can assess emotional intelligence through personality tests, but the best way to test this is by asking good, insightful interview questions and requesting specific examples or scenarios rather than standard ‘out of the book’ responses. 

Emotional intelligence cuts both ways, so employers need to assess their own culture when re-considering hiring practices. Make sure you bring your people with you because success depends on bottom-up acceptance of a mission and vision, not just on top-down policy. All employers need to develop emotional intelligence in their workforce. Be proactive, be flexible and be open minded. 

Businesses that resort to paying the highest salary, thinking that guarantees the best and most productive people, should think again. The pandemic has made many people re-assess their work and how it affects their state of mind and happiness. Research from McKinsey shows that people want their jobs to be a significant source of purpose in their lives, and while money is a strong motivator for some, it won’t mean your staff are the most productive or loyal. 

Companies that slip back into old habits of hiring will struggle to recruit and retain quality staff. But those employers that are flexible, that have good training programs and that focus on an inclusive culture are getting plenty of good applicants. Those that think pre-2020 hiring practices are still acceptable in our post-pandemic world, are in for a rude awakening. 

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