As a result of the coronavirus crisis, many people have been forced to start working differently. HR managers have also had to adapt their working methods to the new norm in which teleworking, and in particular working from home, sets the tone. What has made this challenge all the greater for our HR department is that we have had to power ahead with recruitments during this time of crisis. The battle against coronavirus has certainly not stopped the war for talent in our sector.
The fact that many of our colleagues at Isabel Group were already used to working partly from home made the transition much easier for us. Until the end of last year, working from home was theoretically limited to one day a week. But we had already relaxed this policy even before the coronavirus struck. Since then, staff have also been able to work at home for more than one day a week subject to the approval of their manager. People in some roles, such as developers, often perform better in a home environment where they can program in peace. An open office space does not always improve productivity, as we now know.
All our colleagues continued to work at normal levels during the lockdown, but this time from home. Our own HR team was no exception. To keep the eight members of our HR team optimally informed and on the same page, we made a conscious decision to increase the number of status meetings. The use of Microsoft Teams also increased dramatically for us. More generally, we also shared useful tips and practical advice with all Isabel Group employees on how to work productively from home, how to lend structure to teleworking, how managers can supervise and stay connected with their team and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Virtual recruitment and onboarding
The complete transition to working from home took a while to get used to, no doubt more for some colleagues than others. Among other things, our internal survey made this clear, in which over a third of our employees indicated that social isolation was the biggest challenge. But no matter how radical it was, you couldn’t call it a truly drastic change. The task of bringing our entire recruitment process online also went very smoothly.
Meanwhile, it has become the most normal thing in the world for us to conduct virtual interviews using Microsoft Teams. Testing candidates with online assessments – even for managerial positions – is now done virtually as well. For the final phase of the recruitment process, the signing of the contract, we can use our own digital signature solution SignHere.
New employees only need to visit the office briefly once to pick up their PC. The rest of the onboarding procedure, including the general info day for newcomers, takes place virtually using Microsoft Teams. By means of the online quiz platform Kahoot, among other things, we also add gamification and try to make things a bit more interactive. As a result, almost the entire flow has now been digitized.
Unrelenting battle for talent
If we have learned one thing from our experience of virtual recruitment and the onboarding of new employees, it is that you must provide sufficient time to make this new way of working a success. However, what you lose in efficiency – by having to set up more separate interviews with the various stakeholders in the recruitment process, for example – you more than earn back in flexibility. Ironically enough, you sometimes make similar gains in speed as well. After all, a video interview can be set up and often completed more quickly than a face-to-face conversation. In addition, it is usually easier for applicants to make themselves available for an online interview than for a physical appointment at one of our three offices.
This increase in speed is not a luxury you can do without when you realize that the war for talent in our sector is still raging and that we, as market leaders, must continue to attract new talent even in times of crisis. For example, we continued to recruit highly trained technical and commercial profiles during the 2008 banking crisis. And things will be no different this time, even though we are now facing a completely different kind of crisis.
Aiming for win-win
As a stable growth company, we also have a great deal to offer potential candidates. We have long since ceased to be a company that offered a single – albeit leading – product. Today, we operate in various markets with a broad portfolio of products that support a wide range of technologies. This offers our employees plenty of opportunities to grow, through our many innovative projects as well as through internal mobility. In everything we do, we strive to build long-term relationships with our co-workers.
We know from experience that it is often the work-life balance that determines whether an employee wishes to enter into a long-term commitment with us. Who knows, our efforts over the past few months may help us to further improve this crucial balance sheet for our employees and make the new normal a better one. Perhaps this terrible crisis will lead to something good after all…