Many countries continue with making tentative steps towards restoring economic activity. However, some view coronavirus as something of a perfect storm. Despite being less dangerous than a virus like Ebola, COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus (nCoV), a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. This means that the nature of our efforts has been highly reactive. At all levels we have been playing catch up.
Whether it is bodies with an international remit, like the WHO or the US domiciled CDC, or national healthcare systems, those with responsibility for public health are learning on the job. Essentially, to some degree, scientific advisers, policymakers and bureaucrats have been making it up as they go along, and necessarily so.
Naturally, this has proved to be very unhelpful. There is one overriding economic truth: We have to get back to work. However, without any experience or data about previous outbreaks it has seemed a bit like a case of the partially sighted leading the blind.
The lack of a coordinated international response and variations in the actions of national governments as they attempt to get on top of the situation, has left many wondering how we got here. Questions over PPE, track and trace, testing and care homes are for another day, when the immediate urgency has passed.
We were something less than clearsighted going into lockdown; and in trying to get out and back to work, we now find ourselves in a fix. There will be no sudden return for all of us. Meanwhile, we continue to learn about dealing with the health and social impacts of this disease on the job. There is no COVID-19 Haynes manual and no training can be given!
In amidst of this uncertainty, it is easy for recruiters to lose sight and be seen as out of touch with the most important asset – candidates. By degrees, workers can be cynical, realistic or pragmatic about employment, hirers and recruiters. And the signals given off by the HR sector can be ambiguous.
Take the phrase ‘human capital’ for example. Reflecting the mutualism of society, it can be seen as warm, embracing and valuing people. From the other side, it can be seen as contemptuous, expressing workers in financial terms, just another ‘BINGO’ in the game of corporate codewords. You can take it both ways.
Mortgages and bills place a huge amount of pressure on wage earners. Some (lucky) contractors and freelancers may have been able to go to the workplace or continue working from home on assignment.
However, many that have been let go from contracts, freelance or temping jobs, or others that were in between contracts, or who cannot furlough, may be caught in limbo, awaiting their next role. It is likely many are at the mercy of the Universal Credit and the welfare system.
Some may pursue other interests as they look to build alternative income streams. Over time, all these factors might lead to them turning their back on their usual profession, disillusionment with conventional ideas about employment and recruitment agency roles.
From the point of view of agencies, there is a massive resource pool, waiting to get back to work again. However, the aspirations and plans for the future of many are now on hold. Some are still feeling the effects of the last economic shock and there may be some danger of losing them. To give agencies access to the widest pool of resource it is essential to maintain engagement with existing candidates and attract new ones.
It is accepted that there are difficulties in maintaining candidate engagement when a role has a long recruiting timeline. Candidates often think in terms of days, where hirers or agencies think in weeks or months.
It is an entirely different proposition when you are trying to maintain engagement with your entire resource pool in the light of uncertainty, negative news and a media that is highly sceptical about leadership’s handling of the crisis.
Here are 10 tactics to help execute a strategy of maximising candidate engagement with your agency during the coronavirus emergency and beyond.
Build a stockpile of powerful and persuasive content. From website landing page headlines through to blogs and white papers, and emails and tweets, develop content in formats that really get your message out.
Coronavirus downtime is sure to provoke a considerable amount of career and lifestyle reassessment. However, sometimes this may be lensed by candidates through lethargy and pessimism. All engagement should aim to be upbeat and promote optimism. Where you may have to reference negative elements, the aim should be to provide positive takeaways that help candidates see the upside.
Many executive search and selection recruiters are already likely to actively develop strong relationships with senior and highly skilled candidates. Consider developing this approach across all skill and expertise levels. This helps to combat problems of isolation that many are experiencing.
In marketing best practice, personalisation is way up the list of ‘must dos’. Whether it is emails or phone calls, make sure you know how each candidate likes to be addressed. Whether it is an informal or formal, get it right. Also, be honest, empathise and avoid being thoughtless.
A piecemeal approach to communication simply won’t do! Be in touch by email and phone. Email one week, call the next. Repeat! Try to nominate the same person to call each candidate, with the aim of building continuity and a relationship. Candidates remember this personal approach, you make your agency sticky!
The topics of upskilling, diversification, promotion and contract/pay rate increases are strong and compelling. In the current climate, self-improvement messaging is also very helpful for enabling candidates to visualise a more positive future and to set new career goals.
Promoting a self-improvement message needs to be paid off by offering ways to help candidates develop or realise ambitions in this direction. Whether that is organising through the agency or referring to training appropriate providers, there are a number of ways to push the agenda of Continuing Professional Development, qualifications and certification along.
Consider leveraging the power of social platforms. One vehicle for this might be to offer mentoring by organising online workshops. Your executive or high skills candidates could help less experienced contractors career advice or help with upskilling. Imagine… TED talks under your agency brand…
Identify and amplify the stories of those in similar positions to your contractors and temps. These don’t necessarily have to be about employment or your agency workers. Stories of success, picked up from mainstream media about how people are coping or overcoming adverse conditions provide human interest.
There are two aspects to this. Agencies can sponsor community projects, potentially generating PR. You can also encourage candidate participation in community and volunteering projects as this always looks good on CVs and is great for making people feel good about themselves.
Maximising candidate engagement is vital for agencies that want to quickly regain the ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to make sure inefficiency doesn’t undermine bottom line recovery, agencies also need ETZ’s efficient back-office technology.
ETZ also helps prevent COVID-19 spread and infection of agency workers by eliminating the sharing of pens and the passing around of paper timesheet forms. To find out more about how you can get the benefits of ETZ, simply contact us today. Call us on 0800 311 2266 or book a demo.
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