Recruiting in the new normal: how to win with strategic flexibility

The one thing that’s certain in a post-COVID world is uncertainty. But how do you plan for hiring’s new normal when you don’t know what to expect?

Recent Monster research shows that when it comes to moving forward with hiring after COVID-19, employers share similar concerns:

  • 60% say the uncertain future of their business and corresponding demand is a central concern for most employers who are hesitant or unable to hire when there is little visibility into their staffing needs.
  •  57% of employers agree that it will be difficult to find new talent who are willing to accept a paycheck that’s less than what they could receive through stimulus checks and unemployment.
  •  74% expect salary will remain top of mind for candidates, and 38% say flexibility to work from home will be a high priority for candidates.
  • Additional projected barriers to hire include upskilling new hires (potentially remotely), and incentivizing candidates to relocate during a health crisis.

Being adaptable can help you navigate an economy where change is the current constant. Here’s how you can plan for the new normal of recruiting using strategic flexibility.

1. Anticipate your challenges

Now is not the time to wing it. It’s a very good time to think about the next two to four quarters (or more) and consider what your company challenges will look like.

“Focus on the top-line threats, opportunities and customer needs, and then work backward in writing down the needs related to each of these,” says Jason Patel, founder of college and career prep firm Transizion. “Try to get as specific as possible.”

Not only does this give you a jump start on planning, but it also gives you some needs-based hiring targets. “What this exercise does is give you a visual on the types of candidates you’d like to ideally have,” Patel says. “Of course, no one will meet all those expectations, but what matters is that you gave yourself and your team a bird’s eye view on what you should be looking for.”

2. Emphasize remote work skills

It’s clear that remote work is a part of workplace life for the foreseeable future, for many companies. And even if you anticipate bringing workers back to the office soon, circumstances could dictate that they return to remote work again.

“We do not know what the next six months to a year looks like, and having employees who can complete their job, both in-office and remote, is imperative for businesses to succeed,” says Nicole Gallicchio, COO of fractional HR company Turningpoint HCM. “It’s important to recruit candidates who are technologically able to work remotely, seamlessly.”

That means making sure job candidates are comfortable with remote and virtual technology (Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and that they’re proficient at independent work.

3. Consider part-timers and contractors

Companies in a position to ramp up their workforce face a tough decision: Will business be steady enough for them to bring on full-time employees? If so, how many? If you’re on the fence but you need the extra hands, part-time and contract workers can help you bridge the gap.

About a third of organizations are replacing full-time workers with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure, according to data from research and advisory firm Gartner.

“I’ve seen a downtick in full-time hires,” Gallicchio says. “Part time allows you that flexibility if your clientele increases. You can offer an employee more hours, as opposed to having a full-time person and saying, ‘I’m sorry, we need to furlough you.’”

4. Allow some flexible scheduling

Maybe when your entire team was in-office, everyone worked the same eight hours, but now that many workers are remote, companies are realizing that work can happen anytime—and in fact, there’s an advantage to be gained by allowing your employees to layer their schedules and cover more hours.

“Companies that are global have grasped that already, but companies that are a little more traditionally office-focused, they’re realizing they can get things done in an around-the-clock fashion rather than ‘It all has to be between the hours of eight and five,’” says Tracy Cote, chief people officer at HR software company Zenefits.

This viewpoint also allows companies to recruit workers they may not have considered before, due to nontraditional schedules. “It’s a huge benefit, from a diversity perspective,” Cote says.

5. Keep job ads fluid

The job market now looks very different from the job market six months ago—and the same thing could be true six months from now. Consider Pay Per Click or Pay For Performance job posting models to deal with shifting priorities and seasonal needs.

With PPC or PFP job ads, companies pay when job seekers click on their ads, and they can be more or less aggressive depending on when seekers are typically more active in that category. Ads can be scaled up or down throughout the year based on need.

“With duration-based products, beyond posting more jobs and changing the copy, there isn’t much you can do,” says Jason Flash, Monster’s senior director of PPC sales. “In Pay Per click, you’re only paying for the clicks you’re receiving, but you also get the ability to spend more on the jobs that are worth more to you.”

6. Hire for ability, not position

If you have a large workforce, you may be able to continue to hire for established positions. But smaller firms may need to let go of positional hiring and recruit for the skills the team needs overall.

“If you’re a startup or small business and it’s all hands on deck, you need to hire according to needs and not be so rigid on what the position entails,” Patel says. “Sometimes your marketing manager will have to fill in for your customer success person. Sometimes your front desk person might have to help with inventory.”

This is especially important right now, when companies are in something of a crisis position. Hiring the right people with the right skills is crucial to your success.

7. Rethink your real estate

One way to stay light on your feet is to think about ways to reduce your overhead—and your office footprint is a big part of your expenses. Many firms are realizing that they operate just fine with many of their employees off-site, so they may not need so much space.

“I think many employers will be rethinking their real estate footprint, and do they need people sitting at desks in the office?” Cote says. “Maybe we need to rethink why we gather and when we gather, and virtual engagement is going to become a whole new area.”

That might mean more hoteling, more flexible workplaces, and less square footage. “We’ve got prime real estate downtown that’s been sitting empty for months,” Cote says. “And we’re realizing our people are just as productive, if not more so, even if they’re not sitting in that space.”

Ready to put flexible hiring into action?

In addition to adjusting your overall hiring strategy, Monster can help you to employ strategic flexibility using job postings that let you swap jobs in and out as needed. Learn more about Monster solutions. Get started today.