As businesses still grapple with reinstating order following the disruption wreaked by COVID-19, many are at least now able to see light at the end of the tunnel. While leaders begin looking towards rebuilding their organisations, they can also evaluate how best to position themselves for recovery in the post-pandemic world. A significant part of this involves looking at the workforce, and how this can be optimised for growth – but doing so requires considerations beyond just that of recruitment. And while it might be tempting for HR leaders to skip a few steps in their haste to return to ‘business as usual’, it’s important we remind ourselves of this costly, resource-intensive mistake.
Here are some HR errors to be avoided on the road to COVID-19 recovery.
- Rushing the hiring process
Many businesses had to hit pause on recruitment in response to the financial uncertainty caused by COVID-19. While this recruitment drought still endures for some less fortunate industry sectors, organisations in other sectors are looking at reopening their doors. Encouraging recent research from Michael Page reveals that 21% of ANZ business leaders are either currently hiring or planning to hire in the coming months.
For those businesses in a position to hire, the enlarged candidate pool we’re now seeing due to large-scale redundancies may seem like a recruiter’s dream – but it’s important to remember that being spoiled for choice of candidates and a business desire to ‘bounce back’ should never mean cutting corners in the recruitment process.
As in pre COVID-19 times, talent managers should follow all the necessary steps of the hiring process – from thorough background and reference checks through to role-specific competency tests. Similarly, the candidate experience should not be compromised; first impressions count, and how you present yourself as an organisation in this phase remains critical when it comes to attracting and retaining high quality talent.
- Failing to tie the HR strategy to the business strategy
A HR strategy comprises everything from recruitment and workforce planning through to staff retention and engagement initiatives. A key mistake made by many businesses is a failure to align the HR strategy with that of the wider business. An example of this can occur when a company has strategic plans to grow into new markets or set up overseas operations, but their HR strategy has not addressed the people needs or skills required to execute these plans.
In times of recovery, when many organisations have had to adapt (if not completely overhaul) their business strategy – whether this is having to shift their commerce online or adapt their product and service offerings to meet changing consumer demand – no business can afford to make this error. Open, transparent communication with other executives to understand their pain points and future plans, as well as having the numbers and metrics to create a solid business case, are two ways this mistake can be avoided.
Building a business case? Try ELMO’s Business Case Template here.
- Allowing the employee experience to take a back seat
In recovery mode, most businesses are focused on restoring their operations to their former glory, often at the expense of the employee experience (EX). The EX – which loosely means all the touchpoints that employees have with their employer – includes everything from technology and purpose to the physical workplace itself. When businesses are in fight or flight mode, considerations around the EX can go out the window; however, it’s crucial that it remains top of mind, regardless of external factors. If you’re unsure how your employees are feeling, ask them. Pulse surveys and one-on-one manager-employee chats can go a long way to revealing where the EX may have declined.
An organisation’s people are its most valuable asset and looking after them will help it to thrive. After all, how you treat your employees during times of uncertainty will have an impact on how they view you as an employer overall, and potentially whether they decide to stay with you in the long-term.
Keen to learn more about the EX? Read our whitepaper here.
- Neglecting employee learning and development
Along with the EX, learning and development is often the first thing to be scrapped when things tighten up in business. But the value of providing learning and development opportunities is undeniable: it boosts engagement, loyalty, productivity and in turn, profit – with 93% of employees saying they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development; and research showing that employers offering comprehensive training programs enjoy a 24% higher profit than those who spend less on training. Therefore, rather than being viewed merely as a cost, businesses should view learning and development as essential investment that will ultimately help them achieve better bottom line results. Offering training opportunities via tools such as eLearning is both cost-effective and often preferred by employees, so there is no reason to let professional development slide.
- Not pausing to take stock of HR lessons learned from COVID-19
While it’s difficult to put any sort of positive spin on the havoc caused by COVID-19, there have undoubtedly been some learnings that HR leaders can apply to their workplaces once the pandemic abates. These include lessons and observations around digital transformation, change management, working in an agile manner, remote working and employee engagement. These last two are of course inextricably linked in the current climate, as many companies plan for a fully or partially remote workforce for the foreseeable future. HR leaders should evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, and what they could do better in the future – and use the learnings from this period to help them build business cases for things like greater automation of HR processes.
ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll can help HR professionals manage their workforce, even while operating remotely. As a cloud-based solution, ELMO helps employers manage their teams from anywhere at any time from a secure, centralised location. All employee-employer touchpoints are covered by ELMO’s suite, from ‘hire to retire’. For example, ELMO Recruitment helps to streamline the hiring process – from job requisitions through to screening – without jeopardising the quality of new hires. For further information on any ELMO solution, please contact us.
 Sentiment to hiring across Australia & New Zealand, Michael Page, April 2020
 LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report, 2018
 Study by the American Society for Training and Development, 2000