How to Ensure Your Hiring and Onboarding Strategy Is Pandemic-Proof in the New Normal

4 areas to consider while developing a strategy that bolsters the new hire experience and onboards employees more efficiently.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the traditional workplace, forcing most offices to go 100 percent remote almost overnight. During this new digital workplace reality, many companies have worked through small setbacks and technical challenges with their current workforce to ensure business continuity, but what happens when they still need to hire and onboard new talent or rehire those who have been laid off or furloughed in their former or reimagined jobs (many of which will involve at least some remote work)?

Research from the Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 HCM Outlook showed that even before the pandemic, only 34 percent of an organization’s interaction with job candidates would be in-person over the next one to two years. This will drop even further now. E-mail and phone calls are impersonal and inefficient, so it will be critical to have progressive technologies in place to ensure virtual hiring strategies and employee onboarding programs are not only pandemic-proof, but that they result in strong hiring outcomes for the business.

Here are four areas to consider while developing a strategy that bolsters the employee experience and has a direct positive impact on margin by hiring and onboarding employees faster and more efficiently during COVID-19 and after:

  • Virtual interviewing

During stay-at-home orders—which may be reinstated and last through year’s end—conducting remote interviews will become the norm, and not just an option. Personalizing the interview with the use of video provides exposure to non-verbal cues and is significantly more effective than just interviewing candidates by phone. When interviewing a prospect, hiring managers should make sure to ask questions that relate to a candidate’s past experience working from home or remotely, especially if the role may remain virtual. You should inquire as to the efficiency of their homeworking space and their home working habits. You might even consider asking them to take you on a tour of their home office set-up.

  • Hiring and rehiring

With millions of people laid off or furloughed from work during the pandemic, the level of hiring and rehiring will be nearly unprecedented. Technology will play a significant role in getting companies positioned to handle the volume, but also will improve the process far into the future. Effective companies will leverage cloud applicant and recruitment solutions to provide employees and job candidates an easy way to connect with HR, hiring managers, and recruiters to submit necessary documents and complete forms, background checks, and I-9s. A proficient and easily accessed solution with workflow will streamline the hiring process and save valuable time in reduced paperwork and professional verifications.

  • Onboarding

All of the fundamentals of onboarding can be virtual with technology, which significantly improves the communication process with new employees and returning staff. Standardized company overviews and procedures delivered via remote training sessions empower remote employees to acclimate quickly while ensuring compliance and embedding the company culture. Virtual onboarding content should include background on business and company history, corporate structure, introduction to leadership, product/services overview, as well as a breakdown of employee resources and benefits. Setting up video introductions to departmental team members is also a valuable tool in humanizing remote co-workers in a virtual environment.

  • Reimagined job roles

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only changing where people work, but also what the work looks like, how it is performed, and how employees are measured. With these seismic shifts comes the opportunity for employers to reimagine jobs and positions them to best respond to changing needs and requirements associated with their employees and customers. Technology will play an integral role in identifying skills and matching employees with tasks and projects while providing career pathing, business continuity planning and virtual mentoring. The “new normal” will rely on solution sets that identify and eliminate inflexible job constraints and align the right talent to solve for rapidly evolving business challenges in real time.

As the virtual workplace is now in play more than ever, employers must provide workers a common sense of purpose and belonging, beginning with the hiring process. Companies will need to utilize progressive technologies and innovative employee management during hiring and onboarding to ensure forward progress, remain competitive and meet business objectives, while also simplifying the workday and helping employees be more productive.

Technology solutions that unify most or all of these functions in a single platform are imperative so as not to overwhelm remote employees with myriad disparate technologies they need to master. Although the pandemic is a difficult and challenging time for employers and employees alike, it also has presented the opportunity for unparalleled creativity and for implementing best practices that will fast-track the future of work in how, where, and by whom it gets done.

Trish Stromberg is the chief marketing officer at iSolved HCM, leading the marketing and iSolved University teams with innovative brand positioning and exemplary customer experiences. For the last 20 years Stromberg has refined her expertise across myriad aspects of marketing—demand generation, product launches, branding initiatives, and event management. During her career, she has taken the helm at notable organizations to develop overall missions, product positioning, and go-to-market strategies. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah. She received her marketing communications degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Weber State University.