COVID-19 has thrown a lot of challenges and concerns at the HR industry. If the persistent job cuts is not enough trouble, managing a workforce remotely has proved to be even trickier. However, if we see the brighter side of things, some HR leaders do believe that this can be a great time for new hires as the talent pool has significantly expanded.
This could be because of various reasons from layoffs to remote working possibilities, skill upgrades and more. Although many companies had put their weight behind the work-from-home option, it took a pandemic to dispense whatever little apprehensions they had against the model, because it ensures productivity as well.
“Forget hiring people from any other places, hiring people from within Bangalore itself was a challenge earlier. That problem is kind of getting solved through this whole remote way of working. Roles that earlier had location-related constraints can now be taken on from anywhere.”
Human resource leaders can benefit as the talent pool expands, preparing for a post-COVID recovery and growth. There have been instances where a crisis has turned out to be a good opportunity, making talented employees available for a certain period. Given the present situation, companies can reach out to candidates from other firms who they think could be valuable to them. Technology obviously will be an asset here. The world has embraced or rather had to embrace video calls and virtual meetings owing to the lockdown, and therefore, assessing a particular candidate will not be a difficult process.
Strategic hiring of individuals in this rapidly-growing talent pool can become a great move for companies in the future. So how does this crisis help HR leaders look for better talent?
Retaining employees will also be a key area. This is a good time for existing talent to be nurtured. They will understand the context much better. losing them will be a challenge to the organisation.
Rohit Suri, chief HR & talent officer, South Asia and corporate communications, GroupM India, feels that from an employer branding perspective, companies may want to expand their target pool of candidates. “These are the better times to hire because one may get better talent in the market. That is because, the situation may be bad in other organisations or industries. One may also attract people from other industries. When one is looking at diversity of talent and skills, I feel it is a good opportunity to refocus and retarget the audiences.”
This isn’t the first time that a crisis has led organisations to evaluate their goals and recruitment process. The term ‘new normal’ was normal during the 2008 economic depression as well, when many believed the world would change unrecognisably. However, those who worked quickly managed to recover post the recession.
In our conversation with Avneet Hora, senior director and head – HR, Unisys India, she mentioned how they can now look at new mothers — who had taken a break from work — as there’s no commute involved nor is there any need to relocate.
While Emanuel David, director, Tata Management Training Centre, is of the opinion that the HR and CEOs should look into widening the talent pool, he also suggests retaining the existing employees. “The context has shaken everyone’s beliefs and certain propositions. We ourselves have changed from a physical classroom to a digital one. Because of change in widely held beliefs, people are willing to adapt, and therefore, take on things they normally would not have. Retaining employees will also be a key area. There could be some limitations to hiring new people. However, this is a good time for existing talent to be nurtured. They will understand the context much better. If you lose them, it will be a challenge to the organisation. Of course, competence fit will be important. In the face of job losses, you are getting a new opportunity, and I think you are respecting a person for his or her intellect.” He strongly believes that having mothers return to their jobs will be a win-win for both the candidates and the organisations.
“These are the better times to hire because one may get better talent in the market. and skills, I feel it is a good opportunity to refocus and retarget the audiences.”
Location is one thing that’s becoming increasingly redundant now. If one has a good internet connection and is well versed with the basics of video calls, one is sorted. Organisations are now in a position to hire from anywhere. Girish Menon, CHRO, Swiggy, too believes there’s merit in that thought. “It has definitely changed the way we think about talent, because earlier it was difficult to hire people from northern Bangalore for positions in the East of Bangalore. So forget hiring people from any other places, hiring people from within Bangalore itself was a challenge. That problem is kind of getting solved through this whole remote way of working. Roles that earlier had location-related constraints can now be taken on from anywhere,” he explains.
However, Menon isn’t sure how much of it is a permanent shift. “From a hiring point of view, I don’t know how the basic need of meeting colleagues will be solved. We humans are social beings. It is too premature to make comments which are permanent in nature. We really need to see how the world will change next year. This year, nobody had a choice. Whether or not it’s a permanent shift is something I would like to wait and watch,” he adds.
Like they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The COVID-19 crisis can throw open many doors in terms of taking advantage of the swelling talent pool, but it does make sense to wait and see, how all this pans out eventually.