Back To Work: Questions All Employers Should Ask Before Commencing Business as Usual

Back To Work: Questions All Employers Should Ask Before Commencing Business as Usual

Many businesses are preparing to go back to work; however, during a pandemic, it’s not as simple as telling your staff to return to the office. Some considerations and precautions need to be put in place before we can even begin to consider business as usual. Employers have a responsibility and duty to keep their employees safe, which is even more paramount in times such as these.

While for many businesses going back to work is a lifeline, priorities have changed and some restrictions, new procedures and guidelines must be put in place if going back to work is to be a viable option. Health and safety, well-being, and even getting to and from work will be huge issues. They will cause concern amongst employees, their families and even the general public in many instances.

We cannot merely rush going back to business. Before we can expect employees to return to work, employers must first implement a clear and robust procedure no matter what industry or sector. This will instil a feeling of confidence amongst workers and make going back to normal a little less daunting for everyone.

We’ve compiled a list of things which should be considered before opening the doors to your business once more and the questions you should be asking before rushing back to the workplace.

Is it essential for employees to be in the workplace? 

Across the globe, countries have been in lockdown for weeks. While this has been detrimental for some businesses; others have been able to carry on as normal with a remote workforce and the help of technology. If you are one of the lucky ones that have maintained business as usual, why change? Don’t put employees lives at risk unless you have to. It’s much safer to be at home, and while Zoom meetings may not be ideal, it’s the safe and more sensible option right now.

How will you welcome employees back?

After such strange and emotional times, you can’t expect employees to walk through the door, sit at a desk and get on. They need reassurance that they’re safe at work, and new safety procedures must be made clear. Have managers meet employees on a one to one basis to address any concerns they have, even with issues outside of the workplace and make sure they’re happy with new rules. This will help boost employee experience as they’ll feel supported. Also consider a safe, socially distanced briefing or even an email if this isn’t possible which clearly outlines any changes in the workplace.

Can staff maintain a safe 2m distance?

In some offices keeping the recommended 2m distance between staff is almost impossible; there’s not enough space. Employers need to assess their spaces and work stations to evaluate whether their employees can return to work safely or not. Place any markings where necessary and move desks or workstations as part of your office preparations. You must also consider how to conduct internal meetings safely (external meetings should be kept to video calls where possible) as well as how you manage communal spaces, kitchens and dining rooms. If you hot desk it may be time to instigate a formal seating plan.

If the recommended distance can’t be reached, alternative measures need to be put in place such as staggering working hours, having some departments working from home and video meetings.

Will you need to stagger working hours?

For many businesses where space is an issue, staggering working hours can ensure employees are safe and reduce the amount of contact. Whether you have different departments working in the office on different office, have morning employees and afternoon employees or even rotate week by week will depend entirely on the nature of your business. However, it’s a great thing to consider as it can ease employees back to work as usual, provide less exposure to the virus and help to provide flexibility at a time when it could be needed most. Remember, remote working is still an option even if the office is back up and running.

Will flexible working remain?

For a while, many businesses may have to give their employees more flexibility. Schools will not be back to full time for many students which will raise issues for childcare; transport systems may still be reduced which makes getting to work difficult for some and so some leniency will be expected. Employees have proven they can work remotely, and businesses may have to stagger the number of employees in the office at one time anyway, so be open-minded to flexibility and take some of the pressure off.

What happens to furloughed employees?

According to the latest reports at the time of writing, the UK government are considering extending the furlough scheme until October. This gives employers time to consider reinstating departments and teams as well as a chance to get back on their feet financially without losing their talented people. Employers have a duty to their staff, even those that are furloughed and bringing those employees back to work when it’s safe and financially manageable should be a priority.

The UK government have also suggested they will be able to top up the wages of furloughed employees brought back to work on a temporarily part-time basis.

How many of your staff members need to take public transport?

In the UK it’s recommended that we avoid public transport, and a similar message applies across the globe. Using public transport puts individuals using it at risk of exposure to the virus, and therefore the same applies to the rest of your office if you expect employees to commute on trains, buses and trams. Talk to your team and assess how many people need to use public transport to access the office; these individuals may be able to continue working remotely until it’s safe.

Do you have the correct hygiene procedures in place?

A deep clean of every working environment, including smaller details like keyboards and equipment, is essential before anyone returns to work. Ensure you disinfect and have a sterile environment from the get-go.

Washing hands, providing hand sanitiser and disinfecting workspaces will be just as vital when returning to work as they were before the lockdown. Make sure you have sufficient supplies so that employees can sanitise workstations and keep to hygiene regulations for a safer workplace. Expecting individuals to return to work without the correct cleaning equipment and hygiene products is reckless and will have detrimental effects on your employer brand and will lead to scared and unproductive employees.

Do you have access to the appropriate PPE?

Depending on your working environment, you may need to consider providing additional PPE, including gloves, masks or anti-viral hand gel. If your businesses deals with the public or a large number of people, this is essential. Plus, workers may feel more comfortable wearing gloves and masks even in the office. All employers should provide or at least allow the use of PPE if it offers comfort to employees. Therefore, you may need to think about training staff on the correct usage as PPE can be ineffective if misused.

Can you support your employees psychologically?

You may be considering going back to business as usual; however, the world outside if far from normal. Employees are nervous about going to work, anxious about being out in public and stressed about issues such as childcare, financial problems and the health of themselves or loved ones. Many have been through a period of loneliness, illness and other mental strains caused by this strange situation. In a worst-case scenario, your employees could be grieving. Employers need to be supportive. Talk to employees about their issues, provide support services or at least have a list of services available for them to contact. Open and caring company culture is more vital than ever as tensions will be high.

A clear procedure for returning to work is vital, and each industry will face its own challenges and concerns as the pandemic continues. Hopefully, these questions provide a starting point for considering returning to work as usual. Employee safety must be a priority for all, and government guidelines and safety measures must always be met. Ensure being back at work is essential for business continuity, and if your staff can’t work remotely, health and safety is paramount. If you aren’t taking care of your employees now, it could seriously damage your reputation as an employer for years to come.

On-boarding Remotely: Making New Recruits Feel Welcome During COVID-19

Starting a new job is an overwhelming time for any employee, with so much to get your head around from new faces to processes and procedures. Now imagine all of this with the added pressure of a global pandemic, and not being able to meet your co-workers face-to-face. It sounds like a lot to deal with, right?

As an employer, you have a duty to care to employees whether they’ve been there for years or it’s their very first day. You need to make them feel comfortable, ensure they have the right guidance and managers as well as ensuring they feel like part of the team. The on-boarding process is crucial in making a new hire feel welcome and cared for. How new hires are treated in the first few days, weeks, and even months can influence their perception of you as an employer. It’s reported that 86% of new hires decide on their future in a company within the first six months of employment. If you want to retain talent, it’s important to perfect this.

In the wake of a global pandemic, when we’re all staying home to keep safe and the office is empty, changes must be made to an on-boarding process. Remote working makes this incredibly challenging for obvious reasons. However, it’s these challenges that also make on-boarding properly even more vital. Employers must go the extra mile to ensure that new hires during the COVID-19 crisis get the same amount of care and attention as those that were hired before remote working became the norm.

So how do you adapt to on-boarding remotely? It’s going to be one of the biggest challenges employers who are lucky enough to be hiring right now will face. Here are our tips.

Evaluate your current on-boarding plan

The first stage in adjusting your on-boarding plan to work remotely should be to evaluate your existing strategy. If there are glaring errors and things that were overlooked when your employees were in the office, can you imagine they’ll work remotely? The on-boarding process is something that many business leaders push back in favour of other priorities; it’s often a very neglected element of the recruitment process. Now we’re in the middle of a crisis, and ways of working have changed completely, there’s no excuse. Ask your current team for advice and evaluate what worked well when they started working for you; this will ensure you’re ready to welcome new hires while working remotely.

Train and empower your managers

On-boarding affects managers just as much as it affects new hires. You need to provide practical training for your managers, so they’re up to the challenge of welcoming a new team member remotely. Make sure you address any concerns they may have and ensure they’re confident in communication methods, any on-boarding processes or assessments and know what’s expected of them. Run training sessions so they can embrace video chats and be comfortable managing from afar but most of all show you have confidence in them. If you have a strong management team ready to make new employees feel welcome, the candidate experience and on-boarding process will be smooth and straightforward.

Prepare all documents and software

While it may seem obvious, having all documents readily available is something that could be easily overlooked until they’re needed. Whether it’s documents you need a new employee to sign or guides and handbooks to ensure they have all the information they need; it’s time to make your on-boarding materials virtual. This means that they can be easily accessed whenever required and your new hire isn’t overwhelmed by a delivery of paperwork on their first day.

Ensure email accounts and other vital programmes that you use are set up well in advance, as there’ll be no IT technicians to help at home. You’ll also need to ensure that all logins are in an accessible but secure place for your new hire to access easily.

Send a gift

It’s likely that while we’re already working from home, you’ll have to send a new hire an on-boarding package of some description. This could be their company laptop, documents that can’t be sent digitally or other vital equipment so they can do their job. If you have to do this anyway, why not make it a bit more personal? Send something that will make a new hire smile and feel welcome: even if it’s just a company water bottle, pen and branded merchandise. It shows you’re thinking about them and are trying to include them. They may even share it on social media or with friends, which will enhance your employer brand. It’s adding an extra touch to welcome them to the business while office drinks are out of the question.

Consider Mentors

Your management team probably have a lot on their plate, particularly in this crisis. While a new hire must build a strong relationship with their manager, it’s also understandable that a senior member of staff won’t be able to make them their sole priority in these times. Consider asking another member of staff to act as a mentor. This helps a new hire to build a relationship with another team member which will help for when things return to normal as well as take the pressure off your management team. Mentors can offer advice, assist with the day-to-day tasks and provide another point of contact for any issues. Plus, this is excellent training if you have identified the mentor as a future leader in your business during talent mapping.

Face-to-Face Connections

One of the main things a new member of staff will miss out on is face to face connection. They’ll be overwhelmed with names by working remotely but won’t necessarily be able to put faces to them. Video calls are vital to introduce new hires to your team. However, make sure you don’t only introduce them to people they work with directly. Gradually enable them to meet the whole team, even if it’s more informally like through a quiz or catch up. This will make things easier for everyone when we eventually return to office life and reduce chances of them feeling like ‘the new person’ all over again.

Offer learning strategies

While a new hire is getting to grips with the business, they won’t always be busy and trying to find jobs for them to do while working remotely will not always be an easy task. Providing learning opportunities during this time will help ease a new hire into their role and provide them with skills that could become vital later down the line. With many online learning tools available for all industries, and even soft skills, there’s plenty to keep a recruit busy. However, ensure they know why you’re asking them to do these courses and emphasise how they will be useful. You could even ask managers to provide tests and tasks based on the learning to show they’re interested in these new skills. Otherwise, it may look like a lazy excuse to keep them occupied while not in the office and reduce employee satisfaction.

Ask for Feedback

Remote on-boarding, while in this strange time, is going to provide a learning experience for all of us. Managers, mentors, business owners and everyone in between can learn something from how they approach making new hires feel welcome during this time. Be sure to ask your new member of staff for feedback on how you can improve. They’ll understand that this isn’t an easy time to be recruiting and asking for feedback shows compassion and a desire to improve. Respond to any suggestions and adapt your on-boarding strategy accordingly to help with future hires. After the COVID-19 crisis, remote working may become the norm, and you need to be ready to step up to the challenge after the pandemic passes; plus, any feedback can be transferred to your normal on-boarding process helping all future hires.

If you’re fortunate enough to be recruiting during this time, make sure you follow these steps to make a new hire feel welcome. Plus, remember that as remote working becomes more and more popular with the best talent, having an on-boarding strategy which is adaptable will open up recruitment possibilities for you.

Changing The Way You Communicate Your Employer Brand in a Crisis

Let’s be honest; the way we’re talking to each other and the content we choose to consume is quite different now to what it was at the start of this year. Tensions are high, and we’re all feeling a bit on edge which, without us realising, has completely altered the types of messaging we respond to. While previously we were living in a culture of sell, sell, sell this just doesn’t work for brands in times of crisis, as the truth is, we all have more important things to worry about right now.

The same rule applies to attracting talent and how employers should be communicating with potential candidates. When promoting your employer brand, you need to remember that priorities have changed. What your business does now and how you communicate it to your audiences will have lasting impacts on how you’re perceived as an employer.

New challenges are expected to appear in the hiring landscape over the next few months, which means new opportunities to refine your employer brand, and candidate experience will also present themselves. However, successful communication to both internal and external audiences is crucial for your employer brand to succeed in these trying times.

Here are our tips for changing the way you communicate your employer brand to connect with top talent:

Don’t stay silent forever

When this crisis started, many brands decided to stay silent for a while. This gave time to reflect; assess current attitudes and the situation before they decided what value they could offer or how their recruitment strategy would play out. However, sadly, brands can’t stay quiet forever. Eventually, people will notice your silence. In hard times, silence says more than a clear communication and audiences will come to all sorts of assumptions about your business if you don’t take the lead. 

Even if you can’t recruit right now, it’s essential to keep in touch with your audiences. Whether they’re existing candidates in a talent pool, people who are actively looking for roles in your industry or even employees that were hoping to see expansion; everyone is craving information and want to know about the state of employment. If the news isn’t particularly good, being honest and empathetic when you deliver it will have a positive reflection on your employer brand, earning you respect.

Provide support and reassurance

If you review content that brands are currently producing, you’ll find a strong focus on positive messages and practical advice. Make sure your messaging mirrors this. While you may not be recruiting, it doesn’t mean you can’t provide guidance for potential candidates as well as clients. Think about the skills it takes to thrive in your industry and centre your content around them. Show how you’re supporting employees as they work remotely or face additional risks coming into your place of work. Offer advice to similar businesses, providing ways to protect and engage staff during hard times. Even share light-hearted content like revealing secret recipes online will help you to reach and engage with audiences. Any information you can offer at this time will go a long way and will ensure you’re at the forefront of candidates’ minds when the time comes to recruit.

Try new ways of reaching people

Always wanted to try a Facebook Live? Thought about lending your expertise to a podcast series or webinar? There’s never been a better time to experiment! We’re all in lockdown, so you almost have a captive audience to test out your new material. As we consume more content online, there are even more ways to get creative, and if your content is valuable, there’s no reason not to give it a go. All brands, industry influencers and even celebrities are thinking of creative ways to produce content right now from the safety of their homes, so you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Plus, the more variations of your content out there, the more chances you have to reach and resonate with audiences.

Keep positive but be sensitive

When there is so much bad news around, it pays to spread some positivity. Ensure that no matter how scary your situation, you try and focus on the good side when it comes to communicating with audiences. Include messaging around what you are doing as a company to help the current situation, or to support the safety of your staff. Candidates and employees want to see you as a force for positivity and hope. During times of uncertainty, employees and job seekers look to leaders for all-important reassurance; so, promoting a negative outlook may create a poor perception of your employer brand.

Remember that everyone is facing difficulties right now, so while you remain positive, be sensitive too. Don’t brag too much about your achievements while other businesses may be struggling; sensitivity and consideration will get you everywhere in the current climate.

Give more context

If you’re lucky enough to be hiring, explain why. If you’ve seen an increase in demand because of COVID-19, making this clear will show that you’re helping the global effort in some way, enhancing your employer brand and encouraging individuals to consider working for you. If you advertise for vacancies that you’re desperate to fill with urgent, pleading language and no context, candidates may be concerned; what’s the rush, are people leaving? Use the fact that you can help during the Coronavirus crisis to your advantage and give people a reason to want to join you.

However, if a role has become available for another reason, you should remain clear and transparent. Even in a crisis, employees move on. Candidates are wary of employers right now, and if you act as though you have something to hide, it’s likely to harm your employer brand.

Get social

Research by IZEA Insights states that 66% of social media users are expecting their social media consumption to increase during coronavirus lockdown. If you’re not utilising these platforms to push your content, then you’re missing out. 

 As we’re all stuck indoors, we’re turning to our phones, tablets and laptops as our primary source of communication and entertainment. Now is the time to use social media as your audience is there waiting for you.

The various social media platforms are all great places to add some personality to your employer brand, showcase the human side and even add a bit of light-hearted fun. Plus, it’s easy for content to be shared so if you do something charitable for example, word will spread quickly. The more people that see the good deeds you’re doing or how your helping staff, the greater perceptions of your employer brand.

Engage Employees

Whether a company will make it through this period, depends partly on its existing employees. Anything that supports the engagement of employees is essential, so get them involved and showcase your team spirit to the world. We all know that it’s people that make a workplace what it is, and now in a time where we’re apart from our loved ones, that personal connection is more vital than ever. Celebrate your staff and the moments that you can come together as a team (virtually of course). It will help future candidates put faces to names, and it will improve the employee experience making your existing staff feel involved in the business.

Everything from internal surveys to improve your workplace to a weekly quiz will help engage employees and leave a positive reflection of you as an employer. Plus, happy employees will leave great reviews, recommend you to friends and family and paint a great picture of you; these referrals could end up reducing recruitment costs in the long run!

If you need assistance refining your recruitment messaging to resonate with audiences during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, our employer brand experts are ready to help. We can create recruitment marketing campaigns and help you to build a ready-to-hire talent pool even if recruitment isn’t your main focus right now.

How to Enhance The Candidate Experience During the COVID-19 Crisis

As companies globally are asking their employees to work from home, we’re all having to adjust. Leaders are having to get used to managing remotely, and we’re all having to come to terms with video meetings being the new normal.

When it comes to hiring new talent, many businesses already handle the recruitment process online. It’s cheaper, faster and easier to recruit digitally. But one potentially challenging part of an online hiring process is providing a seamless candidate experience.

We all know that candidate experience can make or break whether candidates choose to work with you. It’s no secret that long application forms, poorly designed landing pages and even poorly worded job descriptions can cost you the best talent. However, in uncertain times, when tensions are already high, the candidate experience has never been so vital. With economies plummeting and job losses everywhere, candidates need to have more confidence in a future employer than ever before.

In times such as these, some considerations should be made to enhance the candidate experience during COVID-19.

Keep in touch

It’s been repeated time after time, but the fact remains, we are living in uncertain times right now, so a bit of clarity and communication goes a long way for candidates.

Many businesses will have been in the middle of recruiting when the COVID-19 crisis struck; the worst thing you can do is leave these candidates hanging. We’re going through this pandemic together; candidates will understand that current circumstances are out of your control. However, there’s no harm in communicating with them and giving some reassurance. This will keep the talent pool warm and provide a better reflection on you as an employer. Disappearing from the face of the earth mid-application will not make anyone want to work for you.

Keep in contact via email, even if the update is a bit of a non-update, people will appreciate hearing from you at this time. Make sure your social media stays updated; this will give an impression of your employer brand but will also ensure people know your business is still active even in uncertain times. Have someone monitoring social media messages and respond to ensure everyone gets a response. Post regular content to your website answering questions you may frequently be facing, as this will keep everyone in the loop.

Safety first

If you are lucky enough to be recruiting, consider current safety precautions and ensure you’re sticking to them. Don’t put people at risk for the sake of recruitment. Instead adopt a virtual candidate experience, from phone and video interviews to virtual skills tests; in the age of digital, there’s plenty you can do. Everyone across the world is nervous about their health and that of their loved ones, so ensure you’re following the right procedures and make candidate safety a priority. It will reflect positively on your employer brand if you do, being conscientious goes a long way.

Add the human touch

Just because we can’t meet candidates face to face, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make their experience feel personal. With social media making it easy to interact with potential candidates, now could be a great time to create dedicated careers accounts. Also, with so many ways to automate and personalise communications like emails, you can make sure you’re interacting with candidates at all stages of the recruitment process.

Plus, while we’re all caught up in the virtual world and embracing video calls, we’re forgetting one straightforward way of adding the personal touch to your recruitment efforts. Pick up the phone! Make it clear that candidates can ask you any questions and be available for a call. Emotions and intent can get lost in emails and texts; nothing can replace hearing a real voice and having a chat about your concerns.

Empathy above all else 

As an employer in these turbulent times, understanding is one of the most vital qualities you can have, whether it’s with current employees or prospective. Understand that people have a lot going on right now and anxiety is high. Be respectful that candidates may not get back instantly or their circumstances can change quickly. Having empathy and being a bit more flexible will reflect well on you as an employer and will contribute to a positive candidate experience, plus it’s called being a good human being!

Make new hires feel special

Think back to your first day on the job and how nervous you were. Now imagine that in the middle of a pandemic and having to work remotely, it’s not going to be an ideal situation. On-boarding will be an even more crucial process during the COVID-19 crisis.

Try to make it as personal as possible without overwhelming the new starter with a company-wide video call to say hello. Spotify sends a personalised playlist with an offer to make new hires feel welcome, but a simple social media post welcoming them to the team should help them feel appreciated.

Plus, while it may seem obvious, make sure their line manager is contactable whenever the new hire needs and suggest regular video calls or conference calls with the team to help them feel involved and put a face to the name. Remote working is lonely enough, especially when you haven’t had a chance to meet people in the business.

Time to refine

Let’s face it; you’ll never have this much time on your hands again. If there’s one good thing about the world being on lockdown, it’s that we have a lot more time on our hands. This means there’s never been a better time to refine your candidate experience. Now could be a great time to create a careers page which can act as a hub for recruitment activity: advertising jobs, showcasing your company culture, publicising important updates and allowing candidates to find the answers to their questions in one place.

Put yourself in the shoes of a candidate and review your entire recruitment process. Does your current site take too long to load? Is your application form quite lengthy? We have to take on the perspectives of candidates to support them with what they need when they need it. This includes taking the time to make the recruitment process as user-friendly as possible and making the onboarding process equally as smooth.

At Talent Works, we’re experts in refining the candidate experience, whether it’s creating a careers page to act as a central hub or creating easy-to-apply recruitment marketing campaigns. Our experts can help you to audit and refine your candidate experience, making a much more positive recruitment process when you’re ready to hire. Get in touch today!

Interviewing During a Lockdown – Your Guide to Video Interviewing

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, recruiters have seen a 67% spike in video interviews. It makes sense; video interviews reduce the time to commute and limit exposure to the public which is crucial during a pandemic. Now we’re facing a lockdown many of us have no choice but to communicate via video for office communications as we’re working remotely. Switching to a video interview can ensure that both the candidate and interviewer are safe as well as saving time, resource and money.

While phone interviewing is a great way to screen candidates, video interviews create a valuable replacement for a face-to-face interview. You wouldn’t hire someone without meeting them first, and while we’re in a lockdown which means only leaving our homes when essential, a video interview is a simple and sensible solution.

There are countless reasons why video interviews are a useful addition to your recruitment process; they reduce the impact if a candidate doesn’t show up, it’s much easier to schedule interviews, there are no geographic restrictions if you’re looking to hire globally and it helps to remove elements of bias! Using video on a temporary basis may mean that you incorporate it into your recruitment strategy as a permanent feature if it works well for your business.

However, it’s understandable that relying on technology to form such a crucial part of your recruitment strategy may raise questions. We’ve tried to answer some of them to make the whole process a lot simpler for everyone involved.

How will you interview?

There are two types of video interview that remain popular amongst employers. The first is a live video interview (essentially a video call) which works in the same way as a face-to-face interview just via a screen. It has all the benefits of meeting someone in person as you can evaluate their expressions, body language (to an extent) and sincerity around what they’re saying which can’t always be done over the phone.

Next is a pre-recorded or one-way video interview. Candidates will record answers to predetermined questions and send them back to an employer to review. This can be done via specific apps like Montage or InterviewStream, or you can simply ask candidates to send recordings over. With this method, the employer has a lot more control over the interview process. Do you give candidates the questions in advance and allow them to prepare? Do you set a time limit to the videos? Do you send a video so they can ‘meet’ you as well? Are all things to consider.

Whichever way you choose to conduct a video interview ensure that instructions are clear to candidates from the moment you invite them to interview. To create a better candidate experience there should be no room for surprise. Explain what is expected, what technology you will be using and how to contact you in the event of technical issues.

How will you avoid technical issues?

As with any technology, you can’t always guarantee that there will be no errors. For example, video interviews rely on strong internet connections for both parties which cannot be promised, the audio may drop out on you or the screen could become pixelated if the internet speed is slow, so patience is key.

While you can’t change things beyond your control one thing you can do is test a video interview before the candidate gets involved. Whichever platform you choose to use to conduct your video interviews, make sure you test it before you use it. This means you’ll be comfortable with its features and will avoid any embarrassing slip-ups mid-interview; like accidentally hanging up on your candidate! If things don’t run smoothly it may create a bad candidate experience and reflect poorly on your employer brand.

However, if all else fails, it’s a good idea to keep the candidates’ phone numbers on hand. If you run into unavoidable technical issues you need to make sure you can still get in touch with them to explain or even conduct a good old-fashioned phone interview. It never hurts to have a backup plan.

Where will you interview?

If you’re conducting a video interview, you’d expect the candidate to be in a quiet place with a good internet connection so you can see and hear them clearly, that’s not too much to ask. However, as an interviewee, the same rules apply.

Whether you’re working from home or you’re in the office, find a quiet spot that is distraction-free. While we always promote giving a candidate a feel for the business, that doesn’t mean they want to hear all the office goings-on behind you; an interview is not the time to learn what the team are having for lunch! Candidates probably don’t want to hear your dog barking either. Make sure you’re situated in a place where the candidate can have your undivided attention and you can have theirs’.

What questions will you ask?

Treat the video interview like any other interview, the only difference is the candidate isn’t physically in front of you. Ask the same questions you’d normally ask and monitor the quality of response in the same way. Like in a face-to-face interview, live chats can sometimes lead to more questions and going off-topic – that’s how conversation works! But as a rule, try to ask all candidates the same questions to even the playing field. If you’re opting for a pre-recorded, one-way video interview ensure that all candidates receive the same questions to make the process fair.

How should I prepare the candidate?

It’s vital to realise that while you may have become familiar with your chosen platform for conducting a video interview; the candidate may not be. Interviews are nerve-wracking things anyway without trying to get your head around a new platform. Let them know in advance how the interview will be conducted so they also have a chance to prepare, download any apps or create any logins.

Make sure the process of the interview is clear to create the best candidate experience. Explain the type of questions you will ask and give them an idea of timescale, so they have a better idea of what to expect. This should all be standard practice for face-to-face interviews but it’s even more important when you won’t be physically meeting the individuals you interview.

Some HR managers also like to send a video of themselves if you’re asking for pre-recorded video interviews. This breaks down the barriers and adds the personal touch, otherwise the candidate doesn’t feel the human elements; and no one wants to feel like they’re talking to a machine!

Keep these things in mind and you should be prepared to shift to a video interview strategy. The recruitment process doesn’t have to stop during a lockdown. By making the most of the technology available to us, we can make the best of a scary situation and keep hiring the best talent to drive our business forward from the comfort of our own homes. Who knows, this may become a permanent feature in your recruitment process which saves you both time and money!


7 Steps to Crafting the Perfect Candidate Experience for Developers

When it comes to hiring tech talent, it’s very easy to get bogged down in the technicalities (literally!). With so many required skills and abilities of critical importance to a developer’s role, many companies dwell on finding the best of the best without worrying about how the candidates perceive them or whether or not job seekers would actually accept a role with them. However, with the war on tech-talent raging and 1 in 10 new jobs now being tech-related, can you really afford to lose the best developers because of a poor candidate experience?

68% of candidates believe the way they’re treated in the hiring process reflects how a company will treat them as an employee, so it couldn’t be a more vital part of attracting talent to your business. When a company invests time and effort into refining the candidate experience, they can improve the quality of hires by 70% whilst simultaneously reducing their cost per hire.

But how do you create a candidate experience appropriate for the brightest and best tech talent?

Clarity is key

Be clear about the type of developer you want, the projects they’ll be involved in and the technical skills that will be required. If you’re unsure of the type of developer you need, or the skills your project requires it’s time to research or even enlist the help of external recruitment services.

When crafting a job description, make sure this information is clear and easy to find. This will ensure that developers know exactly what you want from them, whether they’re suitable and what the role will entail, reducing the number of unsuitable applicants. A job description is the first stage of attracting talent so make sure it combines the right amount of tech-talk, human elements and your brand message to paint a picture of the role and your business.

You should also try to be clear about the stages of the application and interview process so that developers know what to expect. If it’s clear from the beginning of an application that candidates will be expected to complete a test, multiple interviews or even a project, they’ll be better prepared and more willing to put time and effort in than if you throw it at them last minute.

Do your research

When you interview a candidate, you’d expect them to research your company, the role and the industry you work in. For a better candidate experience, treat developers with the same respect. Take the time to read their CV properly before the interview; know what they’re capable of, their experience, the programming languages they use and even any previous projects they’ve been involved in.

 This reduces the need for unnecessary questions which means you can get into the technicalities and learn what you want to know! It also gives you more time to find out about them as an individual and how they’ll fit with your business. Plus, it shows you’re a considerate employer. Treat them with the same courtesy you’d expect them to give you and you’ll already be on the path to creating a great candidate experience.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Whatever role you’re recruiting for, communication is key. Understandably, recruiting tech talent can take time as you’re looking for a specific skillset which isn’t always widely available, so ensure you keep candidates updated every step of the way. Try and provide a clear timeline for the process, and if you can’t stick to it, ensure you notify applicants.

50% of candidates never hear back from a job they’ve applied for and this includes acknowledgement that an application has been received. When they don’t hear back 85% of candidates assume their application hasn’t even been seen by a real human. Is this really the impression you want your business to give? Tech talent is in high demand, so if a developer doesn’t hear a peep from you, you can guarantee they’ll apply elsewhere and you risk losing out!

Whether it’s a rejection, the application process is taking longer than planned, circumstances change, or the applicant is successful; a simple email to notify developers is not only polite, but it doesn’t take too much time out of your day and will have a huge impact on how candidates perceive you.

Time is of the essence

It’s reported the best tech-talent on the market is snapped up within 10 days. Developers are busy people, they won’t be hanging around waiting for your response when other companies are responding instantly.

Make your initial application process is simple and easy; a drawn-out application process is one of the most common ways to deter talented people. It’s reported that 60% of job seekers have quit online applications due to the time it takes to complete them. Make sure you’re only asking for the essential information, everything else can be found out later down the line.

However, a simple application process doesn’t mean you can make developers wait a month for an interview. Most candidates expect to be interviewed within two weeks of applying for a role, so a quick recruitment process is key. Don’t be naïve and think developers are only applying to your business, if you don’t act fast someone else will!

Be relevant and reasonable

When hiring a developer, it’s understandable you’ll need to ask them about and test them on their technical ability; which programming languages they use and how skilled they are. Make sure you’re only asking them questions that are relevant to their experience and the role, don’t talk to them about an outdated language no one cares about anymore unless it’s essential. For one thing you’ll look out of the loop, but you’re also wasting time.

If you need to test, be reasonable. Don’t expect developers to complete a lengthy, complex project before you’ve even had a conversation with them and similarly don’t give them a test that isn’t relevant to the role. Make sure you test at the appropriate stage of the application process, so that the candidate knows if they want to work for you before they dedicate any time and be transparent; if they want to chat to you more about what’s expected, make time for them! The results will often be better, and you’ll be hiring dedicated people that are ready for the role.

Treat them like a human

Yes, developers are very technical people and yes, you’re hiring them for their technical ability but that doesn’t mean they aren’t human. When it comes to an interview, get to know them on a personal level, find out who they are outside of work and what makes them tick. 

Consider showing them around the office so they can meet future colleagues and feel like part of the team. Ask about how they want to progress in their career and what their future goals are. A company that considers these factors will provide a much more positive candidate experience than one that is constantly asking about JavaScript and CSS.

Offer a tempting work-life balance

Developers in 2020 want a work-life balance as much as the next employee. 53.3% said remote working was their top priority when looking for a job. When you think about it, with quality technology and high-speed internet, a good developer can work anywhere.

If it’s feasible for you to offer flexible working, make sure this and other perks are made clear throughout the application process. If you have a spacious office, show it off. If you have the latest tech, discuss it in the interview. If you have generous benefit scheme, let them know. This will not only enhance your employee value proposition but should set you apart from the competition at a vital stage in the talent attraction process.

Improve your candidate experience for developers and you should have no problem hiring the best tech talent for your business. Remember to hire the best developer, simply think like one and give them the experience you’d expect yourself!

Talent Works has put together an eBook, Decoding developers; as a guide for connecting with the right developers and attracting them to your business. Decoding Developers is available to download here.  

A Simple Guide to Attracting More Women to STEM Roles

Today marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Women are doing incredible things in the science, technology and engineering sectors and the number of females taking up careers in these industries is continually on the rise. However, why is there still so few females in STEM roles?

Only 23% of the UK STEM workforce is currently female and in a lot of instances, women at these companies take on more people-orientated positions. Whether it’s a lack of female role models, traditionally male-dominated workplaces, gender stereotypes or the implications of family life; there are many theories as to why women aren’t being offered or aren’t taking up positions in these industries, despite having relevant skills.

A diverse workforce is more productive, imaginative and even healthier so it makes sense for companies to be offering opportunities to qualified females as well as males but do women want to work for you? As an employer, how can you ensure that you are attracting talented women to these technical roles?

Be Vocal About Your Diversity Goals

It may sound obvious but women in STEM roles want to know that you’re moving away from the stereotypical male-dominated perception of their industry. Make it clear that you want to make your workplace more diverse by speaking at events, networking with the right people, promoting a diverse employer brand and publicly setting diversity quotas. People need to see you’re making steps towards a more inclusive workplace, rather than just promoting this for a bit of positive PR. However, it’s crucial to have a good reason why. No business wants people to think it’s hiring individuals because it’s what’s expected rather than because they’re talented.

Inspire a New Generation

To promote opportunities and inspire women to join your business we need to start early. Partner with schools and universities to ensure STEM subjects are viewed as viable opportunities to the younger female generation. By inspiring girls from an early age will significantly increase your talent pool long term. We think this is worth the wait.

Remove Bias from Job Descriptions

When you’re recruiting for a specific role, the job description you write is key; there’s an art to crafting job descriptions that can help you to attract a wide range of candidates and avoid gender bias.

Look at the language you’re using carefully. Gender-related superlatives like ninja or Rockstar could put women off applying. Also, some adjectives are considered more masculine. Terms like manpower, fearless and ambitious have been known to resonate more with a male audience. To promote opportunities to females, you should neutralise your job descriptions.

If you’re advertising a job in another language, be careful about the genders used. Languages like French and Arabic have masculine and feminine nouns which could automatically bias your job ads, excluding a female audience instantly.

Also, research shows that women won’t apply for a job unless they have 100% of the skills listed on the job description. Make sure you think carefully about which skills are essential for the role and clearly define your must-haves from your nice to haves; it will make the world of difference to the applications that come through.

Actively Seek Female Talent

If you still aren’t getting the number of female applicants you’d like for a technical role, then why not source them yourself? With LinkedIn, it’s never been easier to find talented individuals with the background you’re looking for. Reaching out directly makes people feel valued and confident that their skills and experience match watch you’re looking for.

Another option is to run a strategic recruitment marketing campaign for your target audience. Using imagery that will resonate, language that will excite and with the huge variety of targeting options available for paid media, you can reach the desired audience on social media or anywhere on the internet.

Level the Interview Process

The interview stage is vital as it gives candidates an insight into your company culture. Having a diverse panel for the interview will make candidates feel welcome. As a woman starting a job in STEM, it’s important to see other women working for the business so you know you won’t be singled out and aren’t the token “female engineer”. If three people who are carbon copies of each other interview a candidate it’s not necessarily a bad thing but remember, that’s the only impression candidates will get of the people at your company.

If you can’t have someone in the interview which is female, ensure the candidate pool is diverse enough that no candidate feels alone. Show candidates the office to give them a sense of your company culture from the offset. This should quash any pre-determined judgements, even the playing field and ensures everyone knows the environment they’ll be working in.

Proposal Clear Progression Opportunities

Provide training and mentoring opportunities for all employees that will help them progress in their career. This will help your employer brand as it will reinforce the message that you take care of your employees. E-commerce website, Etsy was struggling to hire senior female engineers, so they started a training programme. Etsy Hacker Grants gives talented female junior engineers the experience and skills they need to excel at work. The programme was a success and grew Etsy’s number of female engineers by 500 in one year.

Ensure there are seats for women at the executive table so others can see female role models high up in the company. This makes it clear that there are opportunities for everyone to progress and grow with the business. However, make sure you elevate people based on skills and accomplishments, not because they tick your diversity quota, as smart individuals will see right through your tokenism.

Promote Equal Pay

We’re all aware of the gender pay gap and how ridiculous it is that this is still an issue in 2020. However, female engineers still earn 18.7% less than males. With Iceland recently making the headlines for making equal pay law and fining companies that don’t pay all employees a fair wage across the country, take inspiration and ensure you’re offering all employees the pay they deserve.

Offer Family-Friendly Benefits

Many women still feel inclined to choose between a career and family, so giving benefits that make balancing work and family life easier will help you to not only attract top female talent but to retain it.

Netflix offers parents of any gender up to a year off with full pay after the birth or adoption of a child. While Microsoft and Airbnb offer 22 weeks to new mums with full pay.

While this may not be affordable for some smaller businesses, offering flexible working regardless of gender, as well as the option to work from home, enhances your employer brand. It positions you as a company that cares about work-life balance and making your employees lives much easier both at work and at home.

There are many things you can do to make your business more appealing to female applicants even in the most technical and traditionally male-dominated industries. By following these simple steps your business can play a part in bridging the gender gap in STEM.

7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Facebook Careers Page

When it comes to recruiting the best talent, Facebook is a useful tool that employers often overlook. However, with 73% of Millennials finding their latest role on a social network, there’s never been a better time to perfect your social media recruitment strategy.

Recently, many larger businesses have taken to making specialist social media pages and accounts for sourcing, recruitment marketing and encouraging candidate engagement.

Having a unique place where candidates can connect with your business differentiates candidates from customers and makes the recruitment process more interactive. Facebook is the perfect place to bring this to life. Don’t believe us? Here are our top reasons why you should consider making a specialist Facebook Careers Page for your business.

Segments your audience

Your customers and your potential employees aren’t always the same people. Most of the time, someone who wants to buy your products or invest in your services won’t care about job vacancies or what you’re like as an employer; and if they did, they’d be happy to follow your careers page too.

By having a separate Facebook page for people exclusively interested in working for you, you can divide content to ensure it is seen by the relevant people who are most likely to engage and apply. This is where you can show off how incredible you are to work for to people that truly care.

Plus, the Facebook algorithm favours content that gets the most engagement. Dividing your audience into consumers and candidates is a logical way to get more likes and comments, as you know there is interest in what you’re posting. This will ensure both your recruitment and sales messages reach a wider audience so it’s a win-win!

Strengthens your employer brand

Having a place to post content about your company culture to an audience that is solely interested in your workplace, mission and values will help to boost your employer brand. You’ll be able to showcase what goes on behind the scenes of your business, post employee profiles and give an insight into your perks or benefits, all whilst speaking to a highly engaged audience that is already interested in working for you.

A designated Facebook Careers page is the ideal place to push your employer brand and all that you stand for. It’s easy for candidates to find and means they don’t have to scroll through a tonne of sales messages to find what your office and culture are like. Also, having a specific space for employees and recruitment creates the impression that you’re dedicated to your staff and keeping them in the loop which is a huge plus for candidates.

Adds the personal touch

Social media always feels personal, no matter how large the audience is that you’re speaking to. It’s a direct way of talking to people. Having a dedicated Facebook page for your recruitment efforts means that you can: engage with candidates individually, respond to messages directly, in real-time and make them feel valued. Your messages from candidates won’t be mixed with messages from customers, making them much easier to manage and giving potential employees the attention they deserve.

All of this contributes to a positive candidate experience which will boost your employer brand. Even if a candidate is unsuccessful, they’re more likely to apply again or recommend you to a friend if you’ve been responsive and helpful.

Diverse recruitment pool

Facebook is the third most-visited website in the world with 2.41 billion active users, so you’ll struggle to find a wider and more diverse recruitment pool anywhere else. As Facebook is a global platform, advertising vacancies there can provide possibilities for over-seas candidates or people who wouldn’t normally consider you as an employer to apply. This gives great potential for diversity recruiting, advertising graduate hires or even filling the most niche of roles as the range of candidates available to you is huge.

More opportunity for passive candidates

70% of the workforce are passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for new opportunities, Facebook provides an ideal opportunity to communicate with these people. 82% of companies attract passive candidates by recruiting through social media because it’s a way to capture people’s attention in their downtime when they aren’t focused on work.

A well thought out social media recruitment marketing campaign that sparks someone’s interest as they’re scrolling, may just make them seriously consider a future at your company. Then if you can direct them to your recruitment page, they’ll find even more content to showcase how brilliant you are. 84% of people currently employed say they would consider leaving their job if another company with a better reputation came calling, so having content that enforces this reputation in the right place at the right time is vital for talent acquisition.

Simple Referrals

Social media platforms, especially Facebook, make it easy to tell friends and family about current vacancies.

Current employees or other candidates following your careers page may see a vacancy that isn’t right for them but is ideal for someone they know. Whether it’s sending a link through Facebook Messenger, sharing the vacancy to their followers or simply tagging them in a post, referring a friend for a job has never been so simple.

Hiring referred candidates tends to be faster, cheaper and give lower attrition rates because most of the time, they genuinely want to work for you. Remember, if someone engages with your post it will show to their friends too (thanks Facebook Algorithm) so your potential reach becomes higher with every tag or share.

Recruit faster

One of the biggest benefits of using a Facebook Careers page to advertise your vacancies is that, like all social media, it’s instant. Within seconds of posting a job to the page, your advert will be seen by interested, engaged and hopefully relevant people which should mean you’ll start seeing applications a lot sooner.

Some vacancies need to be filled faster than others and some require very specific skillsets, so having a pool of interested candidates at your fingertips is sure to speed things up and find you the right talent quickly.

So, is it time you made a Facebook careers page for your business? If you’re looking for a place to collate talent, promote your employer brand and make the recruitment process simple, then we highly recommend it. For more information or help with your recruitment marketing on social media, contact marketing@talent-works.com and our team will be in touch!

Not measuring your employer brand? Here’s why you should be

Employer brand put simply, is how one company sets itself apart from others in the labour market. It’s communicating the values that your company is made up of so that you’re recruiting, retaining and engaging the best and most relevant candidates.

Finding your people

The era of social media has arguably lead to more transparency than ever – especially when it comes to what a business is like behind closed doors. Platforms like Glassdoor are used by almost half of all job seekers who admit that a negative company profile would deter them from applying for a role at a company.

If you can’t clearly convey the message of what your organisation is about, then chances are you may have a certain level of disengagement with existing employees, as well as not getting enough relevant candidates applying for your vacancies. In a candidate-driven market, it becomes increasingly difficult to attract and retain employees without a clear driving purpose behind you.

Critical metrics

Understanding how to measure your employer brand is key to building your company’s reputation as an employer of choice, both to external candidates and existing employees. The breadth and complexity of how this is done will depend on an organisation’s size, as well as the industry but here are just a couple of key metrics to pay attention to (if you aren’t already).

Retention rates

Calculating your retention rate is an effective method to determine who is leaving, when and under what circumstances. A simple way to work out your rate is by dividing the number of employees who stayed during a period by the total number of employees you had at the start of the period, times 100 to get the percentage.

But this calculation on its own does not tell the whole story. Are there any common reasons leavers cite during exit interviews? Are there any patterns in the people leaving? This can include people from the same business division, office or even people from similar backgrounds. Keeping track of your retention rate will help you uncover turnover patterns before it has a detrimental impact on your business.

Applications

How many applications do you see for roles? Are they coming from a particular place? By being methodical in the way you track the source of your applications, you could make better use of your recruitment advertising budget. You might not be advertising your vacancies in the most effective way – but you won’t know this until you begin to delve into your data.

Interview process & time to hire

When it comes to interviews, all hiring managers should fully understand your business’ process. How many people are you interviewing per role? How many stages in the interview process are there? Your process could be detrimental to your employer brand if it’s too long, or needlessly complicated.

Cost per hire

Cost-per-hire refers to all the associated costs with bringing a new employee on board, which is inclusive of external costs like agency fees, advertising and background checks, as well as internal costs like salaries for in-house recruiters. There are advantages and disadvantages to using CPH as a metric.

Employee referrals

If you don’t already have an employee referral scheme in place, then consider doing so. It’s an excellent measurement of how your company is perceived by existing employees. How many of your employees are advocates for your business? If there isn’t much uptake on the programme, there might be a reason.

Social media engagement metrics

Having a presence on social media is not just a box to tick; it’s an affordable, measurable way to convey your employer brand to many people. Showing off your people and what makes them great is not only morale-boosting, it’s also authentic – personal touches are far more compelling than slick campaigns.

Track mentions of your brand across a variety of social media platforms, and see what conversations are being had around it. There is a lot more value to engaged followers than a broad reach. Be quick in handling any queries or concerns and you could win points with potential candidates.

Careers page

A company’s website is often undervalued as a candidate touchpoint, but having a dedicated page for careers in your navigation bar will increase your chances of converting candidates.

Use Google Analytics to track user activity on your careers page to gain valuable (and free) insight into how candidates interact with your page. Do visitors have a clear option to send through or upload their CV? How long are visitors staying on your page? Where else on the site are they navigating to? If you’re seeing a lot of drop off at application stage it’s likely you need to shorten the process.

If you can measure it, you can mend it

The scope for how you measure your company’s employer brand is as wide as you’re willing to go, but a simple approach is a great place to start. Evaluating your current position and determining how you’d ideally like your business to be perceived, both internally and externally, is going to influence which metrics are most valuable for you to track.

However, not taking a data-driven approach to how you’re perceived could cost you great people – then you’ll be sorry you hadn’t started sooner.