My younger sister works for a large financial institution that has been remote since the beginning of the pandemic. Like many, she enjoys the flexibility and enjoys the time gained not commuting. The company is beginning to make the transition back into the office, but my sister is not ready. She has been organizing a list for HR detailing all the reasons that she should not go back to the office full time. This logistical back and forth of remote, hybrid and in the office is one of the many challenges that will face HR departments across the country as we return to the new normal. What are some of the strategic challenges that lie ahead for HR?
Talent has been and will continue to be a challenge, this time though with a twist of competing with employers across the country without the limitations of geography. Employers looking for employees in New York can now search as far as Idaho for their employees, the challenge is that so can employers in Florida. This will require HR to be strategic in their recruitment efforts, and clear as to job descriptions and expectations, as well as ensure compensation and benefit packages are competitive across geographic restrictions.
When discussing talent HR will need to balance recruitment with retention of top talent. HR cannot afford to assume that inhouse talent is not at risk. Recently, I heard the story of a recent new hire; she was recruited out of college by an investment banking firm but decided after one year to make a change. This was highly unusual, as new graduates are usually part of a two-year rotation. HR pushed her for a reason. She confessed that she was going to a smaller firm, and was swayed by their offer, particularly due to the fact she had learned that the incoming group of new hires was going to be making 20k more a year, along with receiving valuable training that her group missed out on due to COIVD. They made offers to get her to stay, but the damage had been done.
Recruitment and retention will look different for HR and will require a more strategic approach than in the past.
Recruitment and retention tie directly into training. Successful organizations will implement training programs to elevate inhouse talent and also to recruit employees that may come without all the requisite skills, but with the desire and ability to learn. There is a large workforce available that does not want to return to low paying jobs without benefits and are eager to learn advanced skills. Organizations that can tap into this workforce for certain positions, will be at advantage.
Cases are not declining in every area, and as we enter a stalling of new vaccinations, HR needs to be ready to roll out and communicate evolving policies. HR will need the respect of their employees for compliance, and that comes with having a grasp of all the local, state and federal regulations as well as best practices. HR will need to be directly involved in the roll out of safety measures to ensure teams onsite are not exposed.
As much as I would have loved for this article to offer more finite advice, the truth is we are still in a dynamic situation when it comes to the virus. HR departments that are staying engaged with their employees, have open lines of communication and above all are flexible in their response will be able to appropriately respond. The best example I have heard as of late of flexibility, is a single mom who was scheduled for an onsite interview but did not have childcare at the time. The employer welcomed the candidate and her daughter to the interview, explaining that one of their values is putting families first. The candidate was so impressed, she shared it on social media, gaining this company some well-deserved free advertising, and at the end of the day hired an employee engaged from the onset.
PS: For those wondering, usually one does not engage in expensive childcare until they have the job.