In spite of the acceleration of digital transformation, human resources remain an integral part of business in vital areas such as strategy formulation and functions that require sensory competencies.
In a crisis, while many have chosen to freeze hiring, others are taking the opportunity to take stock of their business needs and acquire top talent to accelerate their recovery efforts.
Here are some tips to help you design a recruitment plan for the Covid-19 era and beyond.
TAKE AN ANTICIPATORY APPROACH
Experts have pointed out that while CEOs are often clear about their revenue forecasts and business targets, when asked to describe the type and scale of human resources needed to achieve these targets, they are at a loss.
In a 2009 Harvard Business Review article, The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad, Boris Groysberg, Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, and Claudio Fernandez Araoz, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School said that CEOs they spoke with had difficulty “making predictions for the size and composition of their top-x groups.” x refers to the number of “senior executives constituting the critical leadership pool in the company.” Even with the help of their human resources heads, they could not do so. In other words, there was absolutely no “strategic talent plan.”
The researchers advise that “the first step in establishing a sound recruitment process is to recognise that your firm’s existing top-x pool is probably inadequate. Despite your best efforts, some top talent will leave to pursue other opportunities.”
They also point out that some talent such as “experienced executives in emerging markets may not be available, so you may need to hire and then develop promising people.”
However, bear in mind that during a crisis, some of these individuals might become available as some businesses downsize, presenting you with an opportunity to secure them for your recovery and growth plan.
The Harvard Business School researchers recommend that you review your high-level leadership requirements every two to three years and design a plan that can answer the following questions:
How many people will we need, in what positions, in the next few years?
What qualities are we looking for in those people, and how will we know when we find them?
What will the organisational structure look like?
What does our pipeline need to contain today to ensure that we can find, develop, and support the leaders of tomorrow?
REASSESS YOUR CURRENT TALENT POOL
Not all recovery and growth plans will require the injection of fresh talent. Are there people within the organisation today that can be retrained or redeployed to fulfil some of these goals? To answer this question, you need to make a deliberate effort to have in-depth talent conversations with your existing employees and develop an internal hiring framework which involves clearly communicating what your organisation is looking for and for what purpose. All employees need to be aware so that they can apply and/or recommend team members for the various job roles.
Taking this approach is also potentially cheaper and less time-consuming than external recruitment.
BUILD A TALENT DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES
As you assess your current talent pool, bear in mind that you have to be willing to reskill and upskill them in order to acquire what’s needed to deliver your business goals. You have to be willing to invest in them on a regular basis. Employers who are unwilling to do so will find themselves in an interminable cycle of firing and hiring as skills become obsolete much more rapidly amid accelerated digital transformation.
RECRUIT FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES
The crisis has emphasised the need for innovation and fresh perspectives. Experts are increasingly recommending broadening your horizons to hire people who have achieved success in other industries. This will increase your chances of coming up with new solutions to your business challenges.
Focus on an individual’s transferable skills and competencies that could help propel your business to the next level. Technical skills can be learnt. Potential, aptitude, adaptability, resilience and motivation are more elusive. Behavioural interview questions and psychometric assessments can help you screen for these traits more effectively.
CONSIDER INTERIM HIRES
In the face of budget cuts, you may hesitate to hire. However, if business recovery requires fresh talent, don’t hesitate. Instead consider hiring talent on a contract or project basis with the option of going full-time as the health of your business improves. This also allows you to size up talent more effectively before committing to them.