We truly are part of an adaptable eco-system aren’t we? After a bit of an initial shock, it hasn’t taken us long to embrace a completely new way of living – and the natural world seems to be loving it. Are the birds in your neck-of-the-woods singing with the volume up too?
There are some ways in which the positive effects of humans slowing down are really obvious – the impact on the climate for starters; the collective energy to push for real change in racial equality is another; the lack of commute meaning that happy home lives have been super-charged with more free-time and energy. Across my network, a lot of people are now saying that they will find it hard to go back to their pre-COVID lifestyle.
It’s important to acknowledge that lockdown has worked best for those who already had a lot to begin with but – whatever the circumstances – it’s presented challenges of isolation, uncertainty and lack of opportunity for employees and candidates alike.
At Meet & Engage, lots of us work remotely as standard. For a long time we’ve used Slack channels for speedy team comms, from #technical to #wellbeing. During COVID we’ve instituted optional team get-togethers every week: Tuesday afternoons, Tea & Biscuits; Friday afternoons, Jolly Trolley; and we have virtual team meetings for the big stuff. These connection points keep us in touch, both socially and for work, and make sure that we’re all on topic and buoyed up by Team M&E.
It occurred to me that these virtual employee touchpoints are almost exactly what needs to be replicated in the world of candidate experience – at any time, but during challenging times especially. Lots of furloughed colleagues and new hires will be feeling insecure and frustrated and have questions about what the next steps will be.
There’s a need for clear and frequent communications, but there’s also a need to engender a strong sense of team identity – so that precious induction time isn’t lost, and furloughed team-mates are kept very much onboard.
Here are three angles to consider, for looking after your colleagues and candidates right now:
What does your audience want and need? How can you give them something relevant and helpful for this moment in time? We are seeing some great examples of this is in the consulting space, where clients are running brilliant skills-based live group chat personal branding sessions for students, around how to build a great LinkedIn profile for example. Other clients are using technology to break down barriers; there are some shocking statistics around young people from disadvantaged backgrounds losing confidence through a recruitment process – even more so in a more challenging climate! So, consider how you can provide digital love, care and attention that’s bang-on for speaking to your audience.
We need to keep candidates informed – even though we don’t have all the answers about start dates, or how we will run induction this year etc. The important thing, when you don’t yet know all the answers, is to share what you do know, and to build in regular check-in points, so that colleagues and candidates don’t feel that they are being kept in the dark. Clients have used things like our 121 live chat to provide a drop-in opportunity, where candidates can get an answer to a question and gain some reassurance. The other part to this relates to making yourself accessible. Your candidates are also juggling everything at the moment – work, home and family. Organisations can be proactive and let candidates or employees know that they’ll be online and ready to engage at different times of the day and evening. This kind of proactive and flexible accessibility is so critical in difficult times – and leaves a wonderful watermark.
We all need different kinds of information at different times. We work closely with a number of RPOs and MSPs. One of them already had a Meet & Engage chatbot, to share information with their contractor base (c10,000 contractors) about a piece of new legislation, but they were then able to quickly adapt the content to answer questions from those same contractors in light of COVID, so they could provide relevant information around the clock.
Taking time to support colleagues and candidates through a period of uncertainty is always going to pay dividends – it will probably be their measure of you, actually. Boosting your virtual offering so that you can keep in touch more easily is an essential right now, but it will also do your business all kinds of good longer term.