Remote work will be a legacy of pandemic; job losses may not be over, survey finds

remote work

KEY POINTS
  • Companies expect an increased portion of their workforce to remain working remotely even after the pandemic passes, according to a Conference Board survey released Wednesday of 152 human capital executives.
  • The survey revealed that most employers have implemented some form of workforce cost reductions, and many plan to continue to do so this summer.
  • Additional workforce cost reductions are more likely in organizations that employ mostly industry and manual services workers.
  • A majority of companies surveyed expect to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels within the next 12 months.

Remote work may be the most influential legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s according to a survey released Wednesday by the Conference Board.

The nonpartisan think tank polled 152 human capital executives from April 15–28, primarily from large U.S.-based companies, to gauge how organizations are reacting to the changing business environment in the context of their workforces. Executives responding were from a broad range of industries, with more than 60% representing business and professional services, manufacturing and health-care sectors.

The study, titled “From Immediate Responses to Planning for the Reimagined Workplace,” found that 77% of respondents expect that the number of employees working primarily from home (at least three days a week) will increase post-pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, respondents said that less than 10 percent of their workforce primarily worked from home, now they anticipate that number will greatly increase, with at least a quarter of their workforce working from home a year from now.

Percentage of US full-time employees working primarily from home (at least 3 days a week) before Covid-19 and expectation 12 months post pandemic

The anticipated increase in remote work will likely have broad implications for the economy — particularly consumer spending. The reason: Less commuters heading into work means there will be fewer patrons in restaurants and less people shopping in the surrounding retail stores. Further, demand for housing and office space in major metropolitan areas could also decline.

“One positive of this shift to long-term remote work is that the pool of talent to choose from will be greater,” explains Robin Erickson, Ph.D, a principal researcher in human capital for the Conference Board and an author of the study.

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According to the study, it is unlikely that hiring will see a meaningful uptick anytime soon. The survey found that over the next few months, most companies polled plan on requiring employees to take paid time off or vacation time, defer pay and implement furloughs. Few respondents indicated they expect to implement furloughs without benefits or reduce 401(k) contributions. While major restructuring is unlikely for most of those surveyed, 9%  plan to implement a large-scale change in organizational structure.

The survey also revealed that organizations with more industrial and manual services workers are much more likely to implement furloughs with benefits, conduct permanent layoffs, require employees to use paid time off or vacation and cut salaries and wages than organizations with more professional and office workers.

Workforce responses to Covid-19

“Top factors that determine the severity of a company’s workforce cost reductions include the ability to continue doing one’s job remotely and the ability to safely return to the workplace,” said Conference Board economist Frank Steemers, who also co-authored the study.

Respondents were surprisingly optimistic when it came to the economy: More than 55% of respondents from organizations that experienced a decline in revenue after Covid-19 expect to return to pre-crisis revenue levels within the next 12 months, with the balance of respondents saying they believe it won’t snap back until after April 2021. Only 4% do not anticipate revenue ever returning to pre-Covid levels.

When will US-based revenue return to pre-Covid-19 levels chart

Covid-19 is also likely to profoundly affect companies’ policies and structure even after the worst of the pandemic passes. When asked to prioritize the five most significant changes that will take place at their organization during the recovery phase, most respondents listed, in descending order, remote work, disaster recovery plans, health and safety measures in the workplace, flexibility and remote work policies and employee engagement.

 

These two charts show the lack of diversity in the House and Senate

house senate diversity

KEY POINTS
  • Both chambers of Congress are largely composed of white people.
  • But the number of nonwhite lawmakers has gradually increased in the House at a faster rate than in the Senate.
  • The 116th Congress overall is the most diverse since 1930, according to a CNBC visualization of data from the Brookings Institution.

The House has become more diverse at a faster rate than the Senate, a CNBC analysis shows, but both chambers are still predominantly white.

The number of nonwhite lawmakers has gradually increased in the House at a faster rate than in the Senate.

Congress overall is the most diverse it’s ever been, according to a CNBC visualization of data from the Brookings Institution.

In the House and Senate, at least 114 lawmakers are either African American, Asian or Hispanic, meaning that more than 1 in 5 lawmakers in the 116th Congress is a person of color and nearly 8 in 10 are white.

The data also shows there are far more Democratic than Republican people of color.

Here is a breakdown of the number of people in Congress by race:

  • African American: 53 representatives, 3 senators
  • Asian American: 12 representatives, 3 senators
  • Hispanic American: 39 representatives, 4 senators

Since 1870, 162 African Americans have served in Congress, according to congressional data from EveryCRSReport.com. Of those, 152 have served in the House while nine have served in the Senate. One has served in both chambers.

Though both chambers appear to be getting more diverse with each election cycle, the number of white lawmakers still remains disproportionate to the racial breakdown of Americans in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2019, 60.4% of Americans identified as white only, excluding those who identified as Hispanic or Latino.

But about 79% of Congress is white, according to the Brookings data.

Nationwide Protests Highlight the Need for Greater Diversity in Media

protest media diversity

Over the past two days, publishers across the media industry have responded to protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by issuing statements of solidarity with demonstrators calling for equality before the law and an end to racial injustice. Here’s another response they ought to consider: a firmer commitment to diversity and representation in their own ranks.

In many communities, protests this week have remained civil. But in others, demonstrations were met with violent force by police, or hijacked by others more interested in rioting and vandalism than peaceful expression. All of this played out as news outlets scrambled to cover the chaos unfolding before them faithfully and accurately, while in many cases reporters themselves were targets of pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets or other projectiles. Observers, including the President, have been quick to assign blame. Spin is everywhere. How is the public to make sense of it all?

Inevitably, much of the TV news coverage has emphasized destruction—images and footage of businesses engulfed in flames, smashed storefronts and burning vehicles—rather than the reasons people had taken to the streets to begin with. As they always have, magazines and other outlets that prioritize long-form journalism provide the necessary real estate for more nuanced discussions that can reset popular narratives when they begin to stray too far from the truth, but they can only do so effectively if their staffs and leadership accurately represent the communities they cover.

If America is to heal, the collective outrage that is now boiling over must accelerate a national conversation about implicit bias: not overt racism that requires little courage to reject, but that which lies deeper below the surface. The blind spots. The failures of understanding. The disparities in the benefit of the doubt.

A 2018 study from Pew Research Center found that newsroom employees in the U.S. are significantly more likely to be white and male than U.S. workers overall, and indications suggest that this disconnect was only exacerbated by layoffs that have ravaged the industry over the past two years.

“A lot of times, those people tend to be the last ones hired and the first ones to be laid off,” said Gregory Moore, editor of The Denver Post from 2002 to 2016, in an interview with Democracy Now last month. “And so, one of the things you begin to see is the whitening of the media.”

The phenomenon described by Moore has already been borne out at Sports Illustrated, where layoffs have unbelievably left the publication with no black writers, according to a May 29 statement from the magazine’s union.

“Newsrooms must amplify voices of color to better cover the systemic racism that led to George Floyd’s death,” the statement reads. “The layoffs of the last year have left SI with no black staff writers—we are part of the problem. We will bargain for practices to improve our diversity and inclusion.”

For emphasis: a national publication devoted to covering sports, so often the venue in which the most visible challenges to society’s status quo have played out, has no black writers on staff.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the media industry, it’s also disproportionately impacted black communities, an economic and public health crisis that has laid bare systemic inequality and can’t be ignored as the backdrop to demonstrations across the country.

“The obstacle course black business owners have to navigate to get federal aid—compounded with climbing unemployment rates—foreshadows an economic depression in black communities,” wrote Patrice Peck, founder of the weekly newsletter, “Coronavirus News For Black Folks,” in a New York Times op-ed this week.

Peck continues:

The diversity reports that a few historically white publications release each year show that black writers, data journalists, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, and audience and social media strategists are wildly outnumbered by their white peers. So we often become the go-to person when our colleagues need “sensitivity checks,” an invisible labor that typically goes unpaid, even though outside consultants charge exorbitant fees for it.

We are celebrated for our contributions during heritage months and given leadership positions in employee resource groups. But we are still glaringly underrepresented in management roles. All of this in a workplace where microaggressions, biases and discrimination occur as often in conference rooms, in Slack groups and even during happy hours as on sidewalks patrolled by police officers and in hospitals where black patients exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms are sent home.

One solution for helping ensure a better, more just future for all Americans could be other outlets following the lead of SI staffers and auditing themselves, a practice still extremely rare in the industry despite the consistent lip service paid by executives to the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Asked for tangible results, magazine publishers will often point to success at reducing or eliminating gender-based pay gaps, or broader representation among cover stars and speakers at conference panels—all important, admirable and necessary considerations, but the road shouldn’t end there.

“The common solutions to the failures in diversity follow a well-worn path,” wrote LaSharah S. Bunting, director of journalism at the non-profit Knight Foundation in August. “Convene a diversity committee to provide a set of recommendations for its leadership to choose from; focus on hiring more journalists of color, but essentially disregard why others can’t be retained; or appoint a leader to address diversity and inclusion, but in a role that often lacks true power and resources. While these approaches can have some positive impact, they rarely address the institutional racism and unconscious biases that pervade many news organizations.”

If one of the few national outlets that willingly provides a glimpse into the makeup of its newsroom and management, The New York Times, indicates that it still has work to do in assembling a staff that reflects the diversity of the communities it covers, what does it suggest about the rest of the industry?

I recognize that this column is published on a website whose full-time editorial staff consists of two white men. To date, our efforts with regard to inclusion have largely focused on equal representation of men and women as sources in our coverage and speakers at our events. That isn’t enough, and we pledge to do our part to make sure our coverage better represents the broad industry we serve.

As arbiters of narrative and gatekeepers of information, more publishers with large national platforms should join The New York Times, as well as others like NPR and Buzzfeed, in providing transparency and assuming accountability for the makeup of their editorial teams and executive leadership. If nothing else, added pressure to think proactively about why existing policies often fail would be a good start. Diversity and inclusion aren’t blue sky ideas that can be abandoned when times get tough; they are an imperative that the industry needs to prioritize in order to ensure its future.

Michael Dell On Racial Injustice: “I’ve Always Believed Diversity Is Power”

dell

The murder of George Floyd is an atrocity. We all stand in horror, grieving as a nation alongside his family and his community. To see a man killed, a life ended cruelly and senselessly is something that will haunt me forever’ says Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies

Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO Michael Dell on Monday took to Twitter to share a letter sent to all Dell employees in which he asked them space for tough conversations on how to drive positive socio-economic change for communities of color and find ways to make the changes to be an employer of choice for everyone.

Dell, who normally stays behind the scenes with his philanthropy, publicly addressed the issue in what is for him was uncharacteristically strong language.

“The murder of George Floyd is an atrocity,” he wrote. “We all stand in horror, grieving as a nation alongside his family and his community. To see a man killed, a life ended cruelly and senselessly is something that will haunt me forever. But for people of color in communities all over this country and around the world — that footage is not a surprise, it is all too familiar. The fault lines of our society are laid bare. From the devastating and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 to the devastating impacts of police brutality, the long-standing racial injustice in America that began 400 years ago is impossible to ignore. And the people who have been ignored are now demanding to be heard. We are listening.”

[Related: Andy Jassy, Other Tech Leaders Denounce Racism After George Floyd’s Death]

Dell wrote he recently had a meeting with black employees to get their views on how the company is doing in terms of creating a company where all team members feel safe and valued.

The key lesson was the need to create space for tough conversations, have greater leadership accountability, and take actions to help drive positive socio-economic change for communities of color, Dell wrote.

“I am optimistic about what we’ve built at Dell, of our culture that’s designed to support every team member in reaching their full potential, and of our vision for where we’re going,” he wrote. “I am optimistic about what we’ve built at Dell. … I’ve always believed diversity is power. It’s how we win and win the right way. We can lead by example into our inclusive culture. We can lead by example and surround each other in love and support when we need it most.”

Looking forward, Dell is encouraging employees and partners to join its Black Networking Alliance employee resource group in an upcoming moment of reflection to hear from those most affected by the recent violence. In addition, Brian Reave, Dell Technologies’ chief diversity and inclusion officer, will be talking with employees and partners to find new ways to invest in ways to help drive measurable positive change.

“Because for all the work we do within our own company, there will never be true justice or equality until we root out the rotten underbelly of racism that is eating away at the most cherished values we hold dear,” he wrote “Real change requires us all to actively participate in the hard work that lies ahead … the hard work that has to be done for our nation and our world to heal, grow stronger, and for us to move forward as one people with a shared voice.”

Dell’s comments echoed those of some of the IT industry’s top executives who are concerned about both the issue of racial injustice and the riots that have followed.

This includes comments from Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, which is also owned by Dell Technologies. Gelsinger Monday said via twitter, “During this time of great global hardship, even more acutely within the black community, we’re all deeply reminded how much we must be neighbors. Today my prayer is for equality – there is no time or place for racial injustice.”

Michael Dell should be applauded for taking such a strong public stand on this issue, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner.

“It’s rare to see the CEOs of large public companies take such a stand,” Tanenhaus told CRN. “CEOs typically take PR (public relations) training to be neutral about politics and similar issues, and leave it to others to take the stands. But now the dam has burst. Dell and others are taking a stand. We’re seeing some pretty awful stuff. We need to be together on this.”

Society of Women Engineers: Taking a Stand For Diversity and Inclusion

take a stand

We must stand together to demand justice and work together to turn our pain into purpose.

The Society of Women Engineers is angered and saddened by the recent events in Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd.  As an organization we vehemently denounce racism!  Systemic racism faced by those of color in our communities across the United Sates has become all too familiar.  We must stand together to demand justice and work together to turn our pain into purpose.  Nothing will change if those outside the impacted communities stand by and do nothing.  We must be true allies, standing shoulder to shoulder, asking the tough questions of our civic leaders.

To support increased participation of women and minorities in engineering, SWE became a founding member of the 50K Coalition.  Since 2015, together with the American Indian Society of Engineers and Scientists (AISES), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), we have been working together, using the collective impact model, to increase the numbers of engineering graduates from underrepresented populations to 50,000 by 2025.  Moreover, we have Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the above-mentioned groups supporting initiatives like joint membership, research and public policy.  This year we are working on additional agreements with NOGLSTPoSTEM and SASE.

We also recognize that as an organization we have our own work to do. The lack of visible diversity in our leadership is palpable.  For the past several years, SWE leadership has focused on creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment within the Society.  While our efforts may not always achieve the goals we have set forth, we cannot hope to accomplish those goals if we do not actively focus on them.  And we acknowledge that as an organization we still have a lot of work to do. 

As an organization we are committed to our diversity and inclusion principles:

  • Developing women in engineering across socio economic strata and occupational focus
  • Encouraging interest in and active participation of women and girls of underrepresented groups including (but not limited to) African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans
  • Supporting women and respecting their differences in family status, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age and physical ability
  • Work collaboratively with men to confront gender bias and create a more inclusive engineering community

This year our SWE Senate has convened a sub-team to address the lack of diversity within our leadership pipeline.  And that work will continue in the next fiscal year.  We want to be solutions driven.  Our KPI metric dashboard tracks the diversity demographics of both our membership and our leadership. Details will be shared on swe.org and in the State of SWE conducted every spring. We are holding ourselves accountable and we expect our members and partners to hold us accountable as well.

SWE is a place for women of all backgrounds to come together and share unique perspectives and advance both themselves and the field of engineering. To members who are not happy with our lack of diverse leadership, we challenge you to be the change you want to see in the world.

Twitter Details Its Inclusion and Diversity Efforts During the Covid-19 Crisis

twitter diversity image

The company is leaning even more on its business resource groups

Twitter’s Inclusion & Diversity Report for May 2020 focused more on highlighting initiatives the company has put in place since the Covid-19 crisis than on data about hiring and workforce percentages.

Vice president of people experience and head of inclusion and diversity Dalana Brand said in a blog post, “Although the world doesn’t look the same since our last post, our commitment to inclusion and diversity at Twitter has never been stronger. Since our last update, we transitioned more than 5,000 tweeps to a fully virtual workforce, introduced new programs and benefits and doubled down on inclusion in the age of Covid-19. We’ve accomplished a lot––and learned some important lessons along the way.”

She added that Twitter’s efforts in the time of the coronavirus pandemic have been driven by four key principles:

Put people first––and really listen: Brand said Twitter created Slack channels specifically for questions about Covid-19, issued a global survey, hosted more global all-hands meetings to check in on employees and increased opportunities to connect virtually across teams, especially via the company’s business resource groups.

Brand wrote, “Working from home and trying to work at home during a global pandemic are different. So, we re-evaluated our global benefits to identify opportunities for enhancements. In addition to reimbursing expenses associated with tweeps’ WFH setup, we also increased our investments in mental and physical health benefits and explored ways to better support caregivers learning to navigate our new reality.”

Lead with empathy and flexibility: Twitter found that employees were having difficulty focusing, impacting their productivity, and this was especially true for people from communities of color, caregivers and those at higher risk of infection.

Brand said the company introduced resources to help managers prioritize their own well-being while performing their duties and to foster deeper empathy between managers and their direct reports.

Twitter also suspended 2020 performance ratings and took steps to enable the company to operate with a reduced workforce, if necessary.

The company teamed up with @TwitterParents on a special listening session for parents, finding that its recently introduced supplemental child care benefit was not helping due to shelter-in-place orders, so the alternative was flexible work schedules to enable employees to juggle work and family responsibilities, as well as coaching managers on dealing with asynchronous work.

Brand wrote, “And since there’s no keeping the kids out of the home office, we launched a weekly storytime with Twitter leadership to give everyone a break.”

Cultivate allyship: The company teamed up with @TwitterAsians to host “Flock Talks” for the entire company about Covid-19 and racism, and it brought together a cross-functional group of leaders from its BRGs and product, policy and trust and safety teams to a #TwitterTeamUp to discuss efforts to prevent misinformation about the coronavirus and anti-Asian rhetoric on the platform.

The social network also kicked off an #AllyshipRightNow campaign to address hate speech, encourage allyship and create a space where personal stories from the Asian community could be shared.

And the company has hosted a weekly series in which underrepresented communities call attention to the unique challenges they’re each facing during this crisis.

Double down on BRGs: Brand said membership and participation in Twitter’s BRGs is up over 30% since the beginning of the year, and it is taking steps to enhance new member onboarding, invest more in virtual events and accelerate expansion.

Twitter

With plans for Women’s History Month scuttled by the pandemic, @TwitterWomen hosted a virtual party featuring the stories of women from intersectional backgrounds worldwide, reaching over 400 employees across the globe.

The company’s newest BRG, @TwitterFaith, hosted its first-ever Ramadan 101 workshop, giving Muslim employees the opportunity to build community, and also giving their colleagues, team members and leaders a way to learn and practice allyship.

Brand wrote, “Spring, for so many people across the globe, marks holy months centered around faith, fellowship, family—and food. And so, @TwitterFaith launched #FaithFoodies. In the spirit of social distancing, tweeps opened their homes to host cooking demos for traditional dishes, sharing stories of their family’s holiday traditions.”

Finally, Brand addressed hiring during the pandemic, writing, “We’ve recently evaluated all of our open roles on our Careers site to ensure that those listed align to our most urgent business priorities. During these uncertain times, we’re being even more deliberate about hiring, development and promotions throughout the business in order to ensure that we’re still advancing our workplace representation goals … Our teams have been working hard to ensure that we can continue to bring the best and brightest talent to fill essential roles at Twitter. We know that times are tough right now, so we want to make it easier than ever to connect with us because we want you to #JoinTheFlock.”

TIME’S UP REVEALS NEW DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION GUIDELINES FOR THE PANDEMIC

times up

Working from home is not created equal for everyone,’ says head of ad industry efforts

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, American businesses were dealing with a diversity problem, struggling to hire and retain talent from underrepresented groups. Agencies and brands, hurt by the downturn in spending across the economy, are in danger of losing the gains they’ve made. Many companies have frozen new hires, promotions and raises—the very tools they rely on to promote diversity. And nearly 40 million Americans have lost jobs or income, with women and people of color disproportionately affected by layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts.

New guidelines released today from the Time’s Up Foundation, the organization created in the wake of the #MeToo movement, offer advice for businesses looking to protect the diversity of their workforces, even as they may be downsizing or restructuring work schedules and policies.

“This is an opportunity for businesses that pride themselves on being progressive in diversity, equity, inclusion,” says Christena Pyle, vice president and head of Time’s Up’s efforts in the advertising industry. “This is a chance for them to double down on the work that they’ve been doing as part of their economic recovery and resilience strategy.”

Companies should regard layoffs as a last resort, according to “The Time’s Up Guide to Equity and Inclusion During Crisis,” as those often hit new and low-level employees hardest—who are more likely to be women, people of color or LGBTQ. Instead, they should consider salary cuts for executives and employee retraining. Delay performance reviews or factor in the effects of the pandemic, including new stressors from working at home, illness, family responsibilities and new assignments employees have taken on due to reorganization.

“Working from home is not created equal for everyone. Some people may be unsafe working from home,” Pyle says, referring to the rise of reports of domestic violence globally during lockdown. Other employees may not have access to the right technology to work from home effectively.

Even plans to return to the office can inadvertently worsen existing inequities, due to the requirements of social distancing. The guidelines include information about “making decisions on who’s returning back into the office and how you’re physically spacing the office so that you’re not moving women and people of color into positions that are not close to leadership or into places where people just don’t want to sit,” Pyle adds. “So you will find guidance in here around flexible work schedules and paid sick leave. The document is meant to match the moment. It’s meant to be practical.”

Many of the recommendations are best practices for companies during better times, too. Comprehensive sexual harassment policies protect workers all the time, but perpetrators may take advantage of a crisis when victims are removed from their typical support systems, like the open door of human resources or affinity and employee resource groups that usually meet in person. Transparency is also key, especially since furloughed workers or rehired staff may have missed important communications while they were gone or just be out of the loop on projects or policies.

The pandemic, however, can also be an opportunity for progress. “Now, in this moment of crisis, we as employers have a responsibility to rebuild our economy and society to be more inclusive and equitable—not just for women, but for all of us,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up Foundation in a statement. “Leaders must recognize that COVID-19 impacts each of their employees differently—and keep diversity and inclusion integral to their economic recovery strategy.”

Since companies are already reevaluating partnerships, it can be a good time to develop new relationship with minority-owned suppliers and vendors. Keeping one eye on the demographics of the workforce not only prevents a loss of diversity but can identify places that need improvement—and a time of change is perhaps the best time to implement those changes.

“There are companies who have always wanted to push themselves to improve and who feel like now is certainly not the time. We can’t afford that,” Pyle says. “I think we can’t afford not to. When we talk about the future of work, we know that decisions are being made in this moment that are going to have implications in the future. They’re going to have implications on attracting the best talent. They’re going to have implications on consumer sentiment. And people are going to be held accountable for the values that they espoused in the moments before and how they operated and navigated their companies through this crisis.”

How The Coronavirus Is Changing Hiring And Recruiting Going Forward

changing hiring

I had a long conversation with the CEO of a manufacturing company that is looking at rehiring laid-off workers and finding new or better talent to fill the roles as he plans to open up soon. He said, “In my 60 years, I’ve seen good and bad economies, but this recession is going to have a long-range impact on almost all US businesses. Our online business helped us keep going, but I have laid off 70% of our 600 workers. I’m feeling uncertain about who should come back. I know that we likely will lose some people, we’ll drop some people, but my HR Director says recruiting is going to be a very tough job going forward.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way many companies operate. “The fallout will fundamentally change recruiting and hiring practices long after the pandemic has passed,” says Jack Whatley, (website www.humancodeofhiring.com), a recruiting strategist. He is known for creating successful employer recruiting and branding campaigns that deliver highly-qualified job applicants.

“Safety and job stability are at the top of mind for the job seeker now – and that changes what they want in a job. Businesses will have to become employee-centric as well as customer-centric,” states Whatley. “Employers must be cautious in determining who to bring back to the workplace,” Whatley noted. “Employers will need to have a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for choosing which employees to rehire.”

More and more employers are reporting that they won’t be hiring everyone back. Those unemployed people just sitting this all out now collecting unemployment but passively waiting are making a mistake. (See Forbes article: Why Waiting To Start Job Hunting Will Prove To Be The Wrong Strategy.) The job market is changing underneath their feet along with the hiring process.

Employers are searching for new talent, while others have eliminated jobs that are now permanently gone. As a result of this disruption to everyone’s lives, workers will reevaluate their careers. Where are they going to go from here? What industry should they go into? Where will they have a more secure future? Needs have changed. Attitudes are different. Workers now worry about a stable paycheck and their ability to pay their bills.

What employees want now 

Whatley discussed the human needs that he feels are a critical part of hiring. “Most people think money is the most important thing to consider when choosing a job. But it’s not the only factor in the decision-making process for job applicants to say yes to your offer. Now, a job hunter’s BS detector is going to be on super high mode because they don’t want to make a mistake and look like a fool by choosing to work at the wrong company.”

Jeff Rohrs, CMO at Jobvite a recruiting software company, reported in their annual survey that 81% of job seekers say company culture is very influential in deciding on a new job. How an employer treats employees will continue to impact whether new people want to work for that organization. In addition, career growth was deemed slightly more important than compensation when evaluating a job opportunity. In going forward, Jobvite’s survey states that 69% of people will still find jobs using online job boards, but 45% find positions through friends, 42% through social media i.e., LinkedIn, and 31% through professional connections.

Whatley has identified three items that top talent are looking for in a job that potential employers will need to address. Those things include the:

1. company’s compensation plan

2. company’s culture

3. company’s values

These are tangible factors that future employees will look at before deciding who to work for. And to secure the top talent, employers will need to communicate these things effectively.

“Recruitment is all about relationships. The human element is how companies will make the best impression on their potential candidates and create a lasting impression about the company as an employer,” reports Whatley. 

Going forward, companies will need to streamline the process. “If the recruiting process gets backlogged,” Whatley says, “it causes problems for your current employees and an under-staffed company. It becomes frustrating for them, because they’re forced to work overtime, and the big workload kills morale and increases turnover.” The need to hire wisely will be the focus. Many organizations will need to determine whether they can hire quickly too.

“Most companies look at hiring people as a transaction – they need to fill a seat,” Whatley says. “They place a job posting and fill the job. In the new world, that will no longer be the case. To get the best talent, companies will have to engage people sooner, more thoughtfully, and put a higher priority on what employees’ value most in a job.”

Both Whatley and Rohrs agree that job security is going to be a hiring key to employees moving forward. Baby Boomers and current managers want employer stability too. Many managers have taken pay cuts, sacrificed bonuses this year, and saw their budgets dramatically reduced. They say they are grateful to still have a job, but some say they too will start looking as the country reopens.

Coronavirus hiring: How recruiters are selecting and interviewing job candidates during the pandemic

virus recruiting ways

  • 84% of recruiters are in the process of adapting their hiring processes to facilitate remote exchanges.
  • Of these, 58% are now using social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Instagram to connect with potential hires.
  • A growing army of recruiters are also turning to videoconferencing to screen and interview candidates, as well as AI and text messaging to connect with candidates.

With a record 36.5 million Americans now unemployed and roughly 16% of the country’s workforce currently sidelined in the wake of coronavirus-related concerns, finding full-time work remains elusive for many. But even as financial markets remain volatile and 95% of the population remains under stay-at-home orders, companies in many fields such as technologytelecom and health care continue to engage in mass hiring.

To meet explosive growth in demand across these sectors due to the virus, corporate recruiters are increasingly turning to new technologies to court and engage prospective hires in an age of remote work and social distancing. Modern-day job seekers looking to find open positions, ace interviews and stand out to potential employers would do well to adapt to their strategies.

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Expect a slow recovery US from ‘frightening’ levels of unemployment: Economist

“Today’s recruiting environment has never been more challenging,” notes Aman Brar, CEO of talent recruitment platform Jobvite. “As a result, recruiters are leveraging a variety of methods and tactics to connect with prospective candidates. The current climate has forced many companies to step up their use of new technologies. While many of the platforms being used to facilitate [hiring] have been available for years, use of them has increased tremendously in recent weeks.”

Recruiting reimagined through crisis

According to research by Jobvite, 84% of recruiters are currently adapting their hiring processes to facilitate remote exchanges. Of them, 58% are now using social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Instagram to connect with potential hires, while nearly half are increasing the number of postings that they make on these services to advertise open positions.

A growing army of recruiters are likewise turning to videoconferencing solutions to screen and interview candidates as well, with as many as 8 in 10 now making it a key part of the hiring process. Digital communications tools such as artificially intelligent job outreach programs and text messaging are also increasingly being implemented as a means of connecting with candidates, even as 55% of recruiters are also falling back on phone calls to source potential hires. In addition, more and more firms are looking to leverage analytics tools (which can scan resumes and data that you’ve input to automatically surface key insights and information at a glance) with each passing day as well.

“This crisis has led us to reimagine recruiting,” admits Michael Wright, Global Head of Talent Acquisition for media investment company GroupM, who says the firm has been moving towards digital recruitment processes for years. “We immediately adapted our [artificial intelligence]-driven video interview tools to be more empathetic and more contextually aware than they were pre-COVID. We’ve also set up what we’re calling ‘video handshakes,’ which are more focused on discovering what people can be and become, rather than what they do and have done [previously in their career.]”

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As a result of these shifts, job seekers shouldn’t just expect video interviews to be a de facto standard and the hiring process to take much longer lately, says Abby Kohut, president of recruitment firm AbsolutelyAbby.com. They should also expect to interact with AI-driven tools (i.e. chatbots, or software programs smart enough to pass for human), which can screen candidates, ask interview questions, and answer questions that they may have on the fly more frequently.

Talent acquisition platforms, which automate the applications process by scanning applicants’ resumes for specific skills and experience, and smart texting tools (capable of conducting recruitment outreach and facilitating communications throughout the hiring process) are also on the rise.

The new norm

These shifts in hiring practices may continue to resonate with recruiters long after Covid-19′s impact begins to trail off as well. New data from Aptitude Research Partners shows that the amount of companies who have invested or plan to invest in chatbot solutions has jumped by over 500% in the last year alone, and 80% of users are happy with the technology. Likewise, more than 9 in 10 organizations who’ve turned to text-based recruiting methods have chosen to stick with them, with nearly two-thirds of workers preferring this type of communication to an email or phone call, according to the 2019 Job Seeker Nation Report.

“Many companies with partial or no remote work policies are now having to grapple with the shift to working from home, which means that the way companies recruit and hire has been forced to evolve,” suggests Darren Murph, Head of Remote for software development platform GitLab. “Companies that are still able to hire in the current economic climate are looking to virtual tactics to grow their teams.”

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Utilizing traditional job-seeking strategies — i.e. creating simply-formatted resumes so a computer can easily read them and peppering popular search-term keywords throughout these documents — when applying for positions can still serve prospective hires well, says Marc Mencher, founder of GameRecruiter.com.

Likewise, numerous firms still continue to conduct personalized interviews and screenings, at which it pays to exercise traditional communications and leadership skills. “Although there are benefits to using AI, there are so many attributes such as critical thinking, collaboration and problem-solving that are also super important to us that we’d rather take our time getting to know candidates,” admits Rebecca Bowsher, head of people at health-food provider Huel.

But ultimately, as Mencher reminds, numerous changes continue to impact the hiring process as a result of growing high-tech adoption, necessitating that job seekers make some fundamental changes to their tactical approach. “Nowadays it’s more important than ever to stand out on video, and communicate your value proposition at a glance.”

According to recruiters, potential hires looking to land a position would do well to keep the following hints and tips in mind.

Get creative with tech

“Be memorable,” advises Huel’s Bowsher. “In addition to ensuring that your application is relevant and writing a cover letter explaining why you’d be a good fit for a role, make sure your application is creative.” For instance, you might use colorful visuals and charts to present your career experience in the form of an infographic; ask a graphic designer to make your resume look like a potential employer’s product packaging or submit a catchy audio recording or video snippet.

“I recently received an email message with the subject line “quarantine and chill” including book and movie recommendations as well as a call-to-action to help the application find a job – it was very clever,” chuckles GroupM’s Wright.

“We look for people who are comfortable with taking initiative [and who display] great self-awareness and expert communication skills,” agrees GitLab’s Murph. “I recently uploaded a video outlining the scope and expectations for a recent role I hired for. Many candidates recorded videos of their own to respond and reply, linking to their YouTube page in a cover letter.”

Embrace the art of video interviews

In addition to dressing and comporting yourself professionally when conducting interviews, as well as utilizing a clean, simple background with minimal distractions, take time to prepare and practice fielding sample questions you expect to be queried about. What’s more, you’ll also want to ensure that popular software programs such as Zoom, Houseparty, and Google Hangouts are preinstalled and working on your devices properly prior to interview sessions, and test that your videocamera and microphone are functioning as anticipated.

Similarly, if you have a fear of public speaking, ask friends and family to put you through test runs, and ask sample questions so that you can get comfortable with being put on the spot. “Being afraid of being on camera is old news,” cautions AbsolutelyAbby.com’s Kohut. “You have to get over your fears and do it.”

Communication skills are more important than ever, she and others note, as is learning to quickly and succinctly summarize your thoughts. To maximize your talents here, practice answering questions with 20- to 30-second quick-hit responses, using three or four sentences maximum to get your thoughts across. When speaking, be sure to look at the camera, and maintain (virtual) eye contact with your interviewer as well. Similarly, you can’t let the occasional photobomb freak you out.

“Employers understand that many workers are getting used to operating from home,” laughs Jobvite’s Brar. “Candidates should be up-front about if kids or barking dogs may cause temporary interruptions.” You can even turn these disruptions into positives, he says, as unexpected happenings offer a chance for prospective job candidates to explain how they’re able to work effectively around distractions.

Become a wizard at text messaging

“Candidates need to be ready for interviews to occur via this medium,” notes Brar. “When this happens, you’ll want to focus on providing well thought-out and succinct responses, and be clear and direct about what really drives you, rather than just reiterate what’s on your resume.

Likewise, he says, it’s also important to keep additional files – i.e. certifications, writing samples, and reference letters – ready to share via text if a recruiter requests them. In addition, you’ll also want to take time to check and recheck spelling, grammar, and punctuation (keeping an especial eye out for auto-correct-generated errors) before sending messages. Furthermore, as much conversational nuance and emotion can be lost in the translation to digital, be sure to read over and double-check responses to ensure they sound upbeat and energic.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to be yourself. “The use of text-based recruiting also offers the opportunity to showcase your personality by using emojis, Bitmojis, pictures, and GIFs where relevant,” says Brar. But before doing so, he cautions, also take time to think about how doing so may be perceived, and be certain that playful approaches such as this align with the company’s brand and culture.

Do your homework

In addition to researching positions that would be a good fit for you on company websites and career portals such as Monster, Indeed and Glassdoor, it pays to familiarize yourself with the philosophies that prospective employers’ embrace and champion.

“Remote work forces companies to hire for values fit, not culture fit [since you’re working largely independently and not in-office among colleagues],” explains GitLab’s Murph. Accordingly, he says, you should research firms to ensure that the attributes you prize – e.g. self-reliance, empathy, a focus on customer service over cost-efficiency, etc. — align with potential employers’ values.

Similarly, when you do find a prospective employer and position that you’d like to apply for, it’s important to position yourself to quickly relay how specific skills and experience you possess best align with companies’ specific needs. The more concrete information and real-world examples you provide, the more successful you’ll be.

In addition, when you submit a resume, it should include targeted keywords — specific phrases denoting in-demand job titles and descriptions, professional experience, and technical terms — that artificially-intelligent analytics programs are seeking. Many times you can find clues as to which keywords to insert (e.g. “network administrator” vs. “IT expert”) contained in the job description itself. Note that many computer programs also start at the top of documents and read left to right — ergo, the sooner you include these keywords up-front, the more successful you’ll be.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

A robust network of contacts can help you more readily find open positions, including those that haven’t yet been posted, experts say. The more you make others aware you’re on the hunt, and more you make a point to stay on recruiters’ radars, the more you’ll stand to put yourself in opportunity’s path, and more successful you’ll ultimately be.

“Utilize your LinkedIn profile,” suggests Murph. “Take time to update job descriptions, reach out to coworkers for recommendations, and enable your profile to let recruiters know that you are open to job opportunities.”

“You have to be willing to ask your network for help more than ever, even if it’s uncomfortable at first,” agrees Kohut. “You can ask strangers to do virtual informational interviews [about what their job entails]. You can volunteer to help others, which helps you meet more people and pay things forward. You can even go on YouTube and post a video resume.”

Likewise, she says, it doesn’t hurt to be deliberate about who you reach out to. “One tip I’m giving job seekers is to look out for companies that are hiring recruiters right now, which means they are growing and probably have jobs available.”

In the end though, the specific high-tech tools and tactics that you turn to matter less than simply making a point to constantly put yourself out there, and be more persistent and proactive when it comes to professional outreach, experts say.

“Ask yourself: How do you bring your very best self into your digital profile, and how do you leverage your network in the current context?,” says GroupM’s Wright. “Abandon any anxiety you have about reaching out to people… you might be surprised at how much empathy [you’ll find.]

“Job skills will always be table stakes,” he reminds. “The difference between awesome and average is character – integrity, authenticity, and leadership.” Finding ways to consistently exhibit these talents will be crucial to your job search.

After all, while the technical mechanics associated with communicating these attributes digitally vs. physically may differ, it bears reminding. With a little ingenuity and elbow grease, it’s not hard to vault yourself to the top of recruiters’ inboxes, and give them ample reasons to keep your number (and email address) on speed dial.

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