The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, but nowhere is it more evident than at work.

How companies responded to the crisis influenced public perception, which could have implications on their bottom line. One study found that 54% of consumers say they are concerned with how employers are treating employees, while 48% indicate they trust brands more when they take care of their employees.

This new world of work has changed every aspect of the candidate experience, from the job search stage all the way up to the onboarding and retention stages. This blog post will explore each phase of the new candidate journey – search and research, interview, onboarding and retention – and outline how companies have pivoted at each stage depending on if they’re hiring remote or frontline workers, and which of these trends are here to stay. 

Stage one: Job search and research 

The search and research stages of the candidate journey are intricately tied; according to Indeed data, 34% of job seekers in Canada say they read company reviews before they start a job search. Additionally, 66% of job seekers in Canada say they read company reviews after they find a job they’re interested in, but before they apply.*

Job content including information on job descriptions, career sites and third-party review sites such as Indeed Company Pages and Glassdoor, are among the first touchpoints a company has with job seekers. Therefore, it’s important to cultivate job content to reflect the new circumstances while addressing any concerns. That said, ensure to keep the following tips in mind when adjusting your job content: 

  • Be cognizant of tone: Ensure all content is supportive, empathetic and candidate-centric.
  • Update hiring channels: Check social media, company websites and Indeed Company Page and remove anything that’s inappropriate.
  • Corporate transparency: Communicate often. Let customers, employees and prospective candidates know how you’re responding to the crisis.
  • Be sensitive: Don’t be self-serving – focus on your employees versus profits.

Even after the pandemic, people will likely look for jobs at companies with strong health and safety standards. Additionally, many workers who discovered a love of remote work will be searching for similar positions. 

Stage two: Interviewing candidates

One Gartner survey found that 86% of organizations were conducting virtual interviews to hire candidates during the pandemic. Moreover, many recruiters have found surprising benefits to this method of interviewing. They open a wider field of candidates, and interviewees enjoy the convenience of not having to travel. 

Perhaps because of convenience, this may be a permanent shift. According to one survey, 87% of recruiters believe that the virtual interview will continue after the pandemic.

Stage three: Onboarding employees

Hiring and onboarding a new hire can be complex, and the pandemic forced employers to rethink how remote workers are onboarded, and how frontline workers can safely assimilate. 

For those employing office workers who can work from home – onboarding can be done virtually. But care must be taken to ensure that new employees feel like a part of the company.

However, for many frontline workers, much of the onboarding process needs to be done in person. For frontline workers, provide easy access to PPE and provide training in sanitation and social-distancing procedures.

Stage four: Retaining new hires

Despite record unemployment due to the pandemic, three in 10 Canadian hiring decision-makers say that turnover remains a significant problem. Retention should remain a high priority.

Ensure that your company maintains transparency to build trust and confidence in remote workers. Consider having weekly calls with senior leadership, along with updates and new launches, ensuring everyone is up to date. After the pandemic, many companies intend to continue to allow work from home.  

Unfortunately, the dangers frontline workers face can lead to burnout and turnover.  Even remote workers are reportedly facing digital overload, with 47% of workers in Canada saying they feel exhausted during a typical workday, compared with 39% globally. 

Employees look to their managers for guidance.  Management must model healthy stress-management behaviours by setting clear boundaries around their own work and encouraging employees to use any paid time off. Indeed, for example, created a monthly “YOU” day, a holiday for all employees, to ensure people take much-needed breaks. 

These retention efforts will come full circle. Your ability to retain talent and keep them engaged will fuel a positive employee experience that translates to an enhanced employer brand that can attract job seekers to your business, whether you’re in the middle of a global crisis or not.

Returning to a New “New Normal”

COVID-19 positive cases will begin to decrease with an increase in vaccines administered throughout the population. Your company must be ready for this new “new normal.” 

For example, Indeed established criteria for opening its offices. Indeed established four risk categories: High, Medium, Low and Very Low. To begin, these risk levels are calculated by the number of new daily COVID cases on a seven-day average/per 100,000 people. An office must be (at a minimum) in the low category to be eligible to reopen. Indeed is also staying on top of government guidelines, both national and provincial, before reopening any offices. 

As you start to see the number of cases fall to an acceptable level, it’s time to consider reopening. There will be plenty of details to work out, but take a moment to consider how things changed before returning to “normal.” What worked? What didn’t? 

Work may one day go back to normal in many ways, but in others it will be changed forever. While we navigate this crisis, we can still find safe, positive and creative ways to adapt every stage of the candidate experience. 

*Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed, N=896