Letter to the editor:
Time to rethink talent acquisition strategies
Your Oct. 26 article about the toll COVID-19 is taking on global talent acquisition echoes what’s happening in Northeast Ohio. The study cited raised some interesting points. But it’s important to also think about what companies can do now to “rethink their talent acquisition strategies.”
The study stated that “more than 60% of those surveyed reported that their top priority is filling open positions quickly.” We’re seeing that, too, and it’s presenting a challenge. Since May, we’ve seen companies steadily searching for replacement employees at two different levels: entry-level and professional level. And they’re having difficulty finding people to fill these existing positions.
Faced with this difficulty, companies are turning to recruiters for help. As the pace of business continues to pick up, it’s going to be a battle to get the right people into your organization. This could turn into an opportunity to bring new, higher-level talent on board. People not content with how their company performed during a stressful time may be looking for new opportunities. Or, after experiencing the stress of the COVID economy, companies may decide they need stronger team players, and this is a good time to build that team. We’re seeing lots of hiring going on, with the common theme being hard to fill entry-level positions. This in itself may be an argument for outsourcing the recruiting function. After all, if you are going to post a position, you better be ready to act immediately, because applicants have so many more opportunities.
We’ve also seen companies who had laid off internal talent acquisition teams due to COVID begin to slowly rebuild their teams to support massive hiring. But employers don’t know for sure what the future will look like — so they’re proceeding cautiously and supplementing with outsourced recruitment. There is stiff competition for talent. What companies need to do now is position themselves in the market to be able to secure the talent for the future. So whether they turn to a recruiter for help or build an internal recruitment team, they need to prepare now for when the pace picks up. If you’re not doing it now, your competition is.
Mark D’Agostino, President, ConnectedHR
Three C’s for business owners this COVID-19 holiday season: Mark D’Agostino
CLEVELAND — Typically, during the holidays, business owners do special things for their employees – parties, bonuses, what have you. COVID-19 has dramatically changed the status quo. As we continue to deal with the ramifications of COVID, especially during the holiday surge, there are three essential things business owners must do. I’ve seen this time and again.
Throughout Northeast Ohio, the businesses managing best build their COVID-19 response around these three basic tenets: being calm; being consistent; and communicating. Call it the “three C’s of navigating COVID,” if you will.
CALM – Keeping calm is always a good idea, but being very intentional about keeping your employees calm is essential. You need your team to work optimally. If they feel safe and supported, they’ll do that. In the news and on social media, we frequently see stories of employers doing the “wrong” things related to COVID-19. Often this is the result of managers not being trained properly to handle situations that are brand-new to the work environment. So, an important part of maintaining “calm” in the workplace is preparing and training your managers to deal with these situations.
CONSISTENT – Being a leader often means having to hold the line and answer the hard questions. And COVID-19 has certainly posed some difficult questions. Be careful not to let your frustration show to your employees. And, as you deal with COVID-19 regulations, you have to put your personal opinions away and do what needs to be done. Employees want consistency and fairness. And when I say “be consistent,”’ I mean be extraordinarily consistent. Companies simply have to be consistent – now more than ever before. Oftentimes, what an owner thinks about the handling of the pandemic and what an employee thinks may be at odds. If you’re weak at setting expectations and inconsistent, it breeds resentment. If you’re consistent, however, you’ll have better buy-in. Employees want consistency and fairness.
COMMUNICATE – Clear communication is how you set expectations. With COVID-19 regulations and guidance changing almost daily, communication must be ongoing. Focus on making sure employees feel safe and build their trust. They need to know what is expected of them. For example, if they have a child who is on remote learning, does the employee have the flexibility to work from home? What is the process to follow if they’ve been exposed to COVID? They need to know, especially as these are not just human resources issues, but they have become safety issues as well. As a business owner, you have the responsibility to not only set expectations for these scenarios but also to immediately address them.
Be open to individual needs – within set expectations – and make sure employees understand what’s needed of them. Being calm, being consistent, and communicating (along with being respectful and kind) will help you to get through this very rough period. Yes, it’s scary, but a calm approach, extraordinary consistency, and stellar communication can eliminate that fear.
In this very different holiday season, give your employees consistency and fairness. Make them feel safe. And your business will be all the stronger for it in the new year when we hopefully begin to put COVID-19 behind us.
Mark D’Agostino is the president of Cleveland-based ConnectedHR.