Reimagining recruitment in 2021

Written by
Darren Lancaster, CEO, Hudson RPO Americas & EMEA

02 Mar 2021

02 Mar 2021 • by Darren Lancaster, CEO, Hudson RPO Americas & EMEA

Darren Lancaster, CEO of Hudson RPO Americas & EMEA, outlines his predictions for hiring practices this year, against a backdrop of COVID vaccination campaigns, economic uncertainty and a range of social issues. 

The diversity, equality and inclusion agenda has never been more paramount to organisations – it’s coming from CEOs through hiring managers, recruiters and down to candidates. Protests and civil unrest have changed people’s perceptions of what constitutes workplace equality and businesses are increasingly needing to take a strong position on this and other social issues. This means putting people issues at the centre of business strategy.

While recruiters and HR have always considered diversity important, what has changed is how wider society and business view it. Candidates want to work in organisations that are proactively tackling equality, so the key is showcasing the tangible changes you’re making. For recruiters, it’s about broadening the channels and ways in which you search for talent, increasing representation of candidates to organisations and adapting your processes.

Virtual recruitment will enhance candidate experience

Things that have worked well during the pandemic, such as video interviews, are going to become a natural part of the recruitment process going forward. We’ve all become more comfortable with Zoom/Teams/Hangout meetings. In fact, we’ll see this broadened out into the use of more technology, such as pre-recorded interviews (where candidates record an answer to an interview questions) and online assessments, with face-to-face interviews only part of the final stage.

We’ll also see more of the admin side of recruitment move online, such as using tools like DocuSign for employment contracts. This might seem like a small thing, but physical contracts are admin-intensive for recruiters – and there are dozens of other processes similar to this. Similarly, improvements in sourcing technology mean that recruiters can search for certain criteria quicker and provide tailored candidate lists.

The outcome of technological advances will be a slicker, quicker candidate experience and a leap in productivity for recruiters.

Recruiters hold the key to workforce planning

Being on the frontline of the massive technological changes in recruitment and talent planning means recruiters hold a great deal of information vital to shaping future workforce planning.

Because of the number of candidates they will have spoken to during the pandemic, they’ll be well placed to provide information on what candidates are requesting and what strategy organisations should take. This might be around how much office space an organisation needs, the breakdown of remote working vs office working or how a candidate prefers to engage throughout the recruitment process.

In 2021, the recruitment function will become a strategic knowledge base that helps HR and business to shape their future workforce post-pandemic.

The future of the office

One thing is certain – there will be a movement back to the office in 2021. Remote working has meant that organisations have lost some of the culture and values their people get by being immersed in a business. They’ll be desperate to get that back. However, the use of the office will be different. Expect the future of the office to be about in-person meetings, brainstorming and collaboration, rather than presenteeism, with employees mixing office and remote working.

Consequently, businesses will reduce their overall office footprint, encourage the use of hotdesking and move towards laptops rather than desktops.

One thing to be aware of: many APAC businesses (which are ahead of Western businesses in terms of return to office) have taken a ‘softly, softly’ approach to office returns, allowing employees to choose whether they wanted to come back or not. This has led some employers to have physically open offices with few actual employees. I expect businesses to learn from that and be firmer about encouraging employees to return to offices – providing the appropriate guidance and safety measures are in place.

Passive jobseekers will return

While 2020 was a tough year for recruiters, it was still relatively easy to find active jobseekers on the market. What was tough was getting passive candidates to move jobs. Being in a secure role with a recession on the horizon meant that many people were – understandably – reluctant to move jobs.

However, as the effect of COVID-19 vaccines takes hold, I believe we’ll see these passive jobseekers return to the market. Some will have waited out the worst of lockdowns, but others will have seen their priorities change, whether that’s work/life balance, where they live or family roles. These people will come back into the marketplace, but the criteria they set for jobs will be very different. The gamechanger will be how organisations adapt to these new requirements and package up their offering to candidates. Adapting will be key.

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