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Interviews 2.0: HR recruitment and management during Covid-19 times

Business resiliente

03/05/2021

Human resources and the pandemic: an overview

The public health emergency has had significant ramifications for the global population’s social and working lives as well as their finances.
The already challenged labour market has shrunk dramatically as testified by the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) estimates of a loss in hours worked of roughly 8.8% at global level, the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs.
However, not all activities have been affected by Covid-19 to the same degree, as the essential activities like supermarkets, chemists and services that can easily be provided online were able to safeguard at least part of their business during the crisis. Conversely, workers in the non-essential sectors, like tourism and HORECA, have seen their incomes almost obliterated.  

 

The global pandemic has also changed recruitment methods

The pandemic’s negative fallout on personnel recruitment and employment was mainly related to the restrictions and especially the limitations on meetings and face-to-face contact. Once again, its effects were contrasting: hiring in the tourism and event organisational sectors obviously did not happen while other sectors saw a huge increase in new hires, for example, for online communications and logistics services.
The Jobrapido (an employment search engine with more than 90 million  registered users in 58 countries) survey found that remote work and e-commerce opportunities both grew during the pandemic.
The growth in the logistics sector linked to the greater volume of online sales led to a 15% increase in jobs offered in the world.

 

The pros and cons of digitalising HR

The outbreak of the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated companies’ digitalisation. The report presented to the EU Court of Auditors in February 2021 shows that Italy lags behind the rest of Europe with respect to digital skills: 50% of its population is ill-prepared or completely lacks these skills.
As a result, the HR sector has encountered difficulties in recruiting people with the necessary skills for jobs. According to the Italian Union of chambers of commerce, industry, artisans and agriculture, Unionecamere, seven out of every ten potential jobs require digital skills (3.2 million workers), while it is difficult to find appropriate talents for 28.9% of these positions due to the candidates’ inadequacy or significant weaknesses in this area.

In order to facilitate both recruiters and candidates, the then Minister for Innovation, Paola Pisano, signed a decree introducing the National Strategy for Digital Skills as part of the related project commenced by the Conte second cabinet on 3 August 2020. The decree’s aim is to close the gap with the other European countries and eliminate the digital divide within Italy.
It set ambitious objectives to promote the development of key skills and the roll-out of nation-wide projects to provide citizens at all levels, from students to workers, with adequate digital skills.

 

The ability to reinvent yourself is the first step to start over

There are positive aspects of digitalising the HR sector.
The use of video interviews (the main approach method adopted by the HR departments) did not affect one of the key characteristics of recruiters: to be available and empathic to candidates. As a versatile and adaptable tool, video interviews are an effective way to acquire new talents and make it easier to schedule appointments, saving both the candidates and the recruiters time.

 

The LinkedIn example

The professional social media linked to personnel recruitment has played a fundamental role throughout 2020 and especially during the most critical moments of the pandemic. Of them all, LinkedIn undoubtedly stood out.
Firstly, because it offered companies and oganisations in the healthcare sector free advertising for mission-critical job ads in the period from 1 April to 30 June 2020.

 

 

LinkedIn at the forefront supporting the healthcare sector

LinkedIn also introduced the “Recruiting for Good” programme whereby its employees with recruitment experience could help organisations from various sectors to source talents for urgent positions (paid and voluntary).
It rolled out another project to provide a tangible response to the desperate request for aid from the healthcare sector consisting of three months’ free access to “LinkedIn Talent Insights”, which is a tool that optimises recruiting methods.
It allows recruiters to develop a talent intelligence strategy using a large quantity of data about users and analyse it in different ways to obtain useful information. During the pandemic, this tool was of great assistance to source and hire healthcare personnel, easing the workload of those persons already in the front line dealing with the emergency and the huge emotional load and related stress.

 

Changes and novelties in the recruiting sector

Despite the numerous difficulties and rapid changes of the past year, recruiters have also seen some advantages and positive results.
One of the most important recruitment KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is the time to hire: the time between when a candidate responds to an ad and their employment.
In 2017, according to data provided by Glassdoor (one of the fastest growing websites for job searches and hiring), Italian companies took around 36 days to complete their hiring process compared to 23 days in the US and 28 in Germany. This process has become faster in 2020 thanks to the possibility of organising interviews more swiftly using video calls.

 

Digitalisation has redesigned the workplace

Another game changer has been remote work: while it was viewed as an awkward new imposition by most of the population in 2020, it is now one of the benefits most requested by candidates in 2021.
A pandemic year and the resulting limitations on personal freedom have led to the rediscovery of the importance of the work/life balance and the flexibility offered by remote work.
This is a significant benefit for the recruitment sector as it has enabled recruiters to screen candidates without necessarily being limited by where they live and to focus solely on their skills and the expertise required.