From remote working to temporary layoffs and redundancies, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit many elements of day-to-day HR hard. One of the first processes to be affected was recruitment - especially where offers had been made and employees were due to start but could not due to government restrictions.
There will be many employees who were in the middle of being recruited and will now be in a state of limbo and perhaps experiencing an even greater level of uncertainty than if they had remained in their current position.
As an employer in this situation keeping lines of communication open with any potential new hires is crucial. And as we see a deepening impact of the virus on society and business in the next few weeks or months communication should be ongoing and above all, employers should be honest in communications about the fluid nature of the circumstances.
Two days can feel like two weeks at the moment, so not communicating anything is the worst you can do. Provide as much information as you can, even if it's just to say there are no further developments - that is better than nothing at all. Be really clear that they have still got the job, the offer still stands.
If this isn’t the case maybe consider a phased start. Perhaps it's an option to say, 'we can't issue you with a permanent contract at the moment but can offer fixed-term or more casual work.’
It may be difficult to make any guarantees in the current environment but what you can do is make sure any potential new hires are aware of the different financial measures the Government has introduced to support workers such as Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, self-employment grants and the like.
Any such help will go a long way to reassuring the potential hire that they are engaging with a company that cares about its staff, which will be welcome in such times of uncertainty.
Get creative with on-boarding
It might feel risky to onboard someone and pay a salary at this time, but if they were an important hire before the lockdown it's likely they will be afterwards.
The company’s usual on-boarding/induction programme will most probably not be possible in its current form due to the restrictions but there are many other ways the same outcome can be achieved. Candidates that have confirmed they will start at the later date can complete an online on-boarding module, virtually meet colleagues, use this time to familiarise themselves with company systems, review HR policies and input their personal data - meaning one less administration task when they do begin.
Communication is key
And should the current situation become more long-term some of these new techniques of engagement may turn out to be more effective than those currently in place and may be more appropriate for employee engagement in general - not just for new starters, but also existing staff.
Sustained communication across all aspects of your business is always key but especially now during these particularly uncertain and challenging times. Managers and colleagues are encouraged to stay in touch regularly, using platforms such as Microsoft Teams and even just a phone call or a text to ask how colleagues are doing will go a long way to ensuring a strong team exists when all this is over and ‘normal’ work practices can resume.
HCHR And Recruitment Challenges
HCHR is an independent human resources consultancy offering a range of services including all aspects of recruitment. To find out more, visit the dedicated recruitment page on our website or call us on 01792 296178