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5 ways to be strategic and reactive during uncertainty
A hiring strategy is only as effective as the hiring manager’s understanding of the key company needs and goals.
In making plans for business recovery, having a robust hiring strategy is even more critical, as the right team of talent can make (or break) your efforts in getting the business back on track. How, then, do we ensure that only the best-suited talent are shortlisted, selected and want to join your company?
1. Addressing business needs in the new reality is now crucial
Understanding the business’s needs should form the entire premise of your hiring strategy. Before the pandemic became part of the public vernacular, hiring strategies were based on new project launches, mergers and acquisitions to be conducted, as well as other business priorities. During disruption, however, managing the organisation for now while planning for business recovery is front and center, which means that your hiring strategy needs to factor in this new reality.
What positions are vital now, and which roles are going to be the most critical for business growth?
For anyone in charge of hiring, you need to be close to the core business, be engaged with its activities and maintain a smooth channel of communication with key stakeholders. “You need to ask questions proactively to get the first-hand information,” suggests Stella Wu, Head of HR at PageGroup China. "For example,
- What is the short- and long-term strategy due to COVID-19?
- What are you looking to achieve as an organisation over the next 12 months, three years and five years?
- What positions are vital now, and which roles are going to be the most critical for business growth?”
By aligning your hiring strategy with your business objectives, you can ensure that the investment you make in hiring is quite targeted, and reflects the strategic direction and priorities of your organisation.
2. Prioritise the needs of key stakeholders
The pandemic has had a widespread impact across all sectors, some more extreme than others.
While managing current challenges, business are starting to plan for a recovery, and it is only natural for different stakeholders within the same company to have opposing priorities and ideas around where the recovery should begin first. However, as the hiring manager, it is less about addressing all their needs and more about prioritising the issues that matter the most for the time being. After all, not all the ideas from stakeholders are necessarily relevant to your hiring strategy, or at least not right now.
You can focus on the key stakeholders if they satisfy both criteria: influence and relevance. Influential and relevant stakeholders are the ones to connect and align with during the business recovery phase, because their decisions will have the deepest, farthest impact within a short period of time. These are the individuals to pay the utmost attention to. Only when you prioritise the needs from key stakeholders, you can set up the most relevant hiring strategy and hire the most suitable talent for your company.
There is a whole host of rich and diversified data at the workplace, some of which is not visible via conventional analytics.
3. Leverage data to support your decision
Human resources cannot afford to exist in a silo. Just as many other business functions have increasingly adopted data analytics to inform their decisions, HR, too, must embrace new technology to make high business impact. This also means that, for hiring managers, data and analytic skills are going to be more important than ever in a HR capacity. There are many predictive metrics you can draw from aggregated data as well, no matter it is the desk behavior, turnover rate or the potential of absenteeism — the list goes on. Advanced analytics provide an efficient and effective solution when it comes to cutting off their talent-related losses.
A Gartner survey echoes this. Already, 16% of employers report passive employee data collection, including everything from chat and internal and external communication to virtual logging in and out. “There is a whole host of rich and diversified data at the workplace, some of which is not visible via conventional analytics. Beyond turnover and retention rate among staff, we can now analyse feedback from frontline employees and stakeholders at each level of the organisation,” Wu explains. “What you need to do is to collect and analyse these data sets, then leverage them for your decision-making process. Use it as substance to support decisions and recommendations when speaking to key stakeholders.”
4. Keep an eye on the competition
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that nothing remains constant for very long. These uncertainties come on top of innovations that are still happening across all sectors, which means that, as hiring managers, it is wise to keep an eye on the external world in order to embrace changes as they come. What are strong competitors doing on the hiring front? Are there ideas that you can adopt and adapt to your workflow? Are there best practices from other companies when it comes to business recovery? Beyond the pandemic period, these are questions that the best hiring managers not only need to keep in mind but know some of the answers to. It’s imperative you stay on top of the context in which recruitment is occurring at that particular point in time, as well as the future.
“You need to explore the outside world and monitor good practices, instead of working behind closed doors,” Wu suggests. “You need to also think ahead so that you can come up with suitable initiatives for your company. If you can do this, your stakeholders will be impressed, and it will be easier for you to manage upwards.”
Richard King, Regional Managing Director of Michael Page Japan and India says any strong competitor with a strong balance sheet will be looking to identify ways to take market share from peers. “In many cases, this either involves finding additional talent in specific segments of the market or ‘upgrading’ talent with stronger players,” King says. “This applies to both revenue-generating and support functions. An awareness of what your best competitors are doing can support your own opinions of where opportunities lie.”
However, it’s important not to spend too much time studying the competition, Nic Chambers, Regional Director of Michael Page Malaysia warns. “A greater emphasis and focus also needs to be directed towards your own customers – understanding their needs and delivering an outstanding customer journey will help deliver far greater results,” he says.
5. Speak up and make your expertise known
As someone who oversees and decides on hiring, you are the expert when it comes to talent sourcing. You are the key person the rest of the company approaches for hiring needs, especially in these unique times. As such, you need to make sure your insights and expertise are heard, which will allow the key decision makers to make better, more informed decisions. “Increasingly, human resource experts have become strategic partners within an organisation. The value that they bring to the table is immense. If you already have a seat at the table, you need to make your voice heard,” Wu advises.
Much like how CFOs played a lead role during the post-global financial crisis era, this is HR’s time to come to the fore.
Chambers says that while change is happening, it’s not at an accelerated pace. “Traditionally considered a back office administrative function, HR has the opportunity to play a lead role in the post-COVID recovery,” he notes. “Given the very real socioeconomic impact of the pandemic and the human toll, CHROs should be at the centre of organisational change in a genuine business partnering capacity – much like how CFOs played a lead role during the post-global financial crisis era, this is HR’s time to come to the fore.”
HR professionals also have a tremendous opportunity to be proactive in addressing the people challenges that their business leaders are faced with, as well as preparing for when the economy gradually begins to recover, according to Sonia Danani, Head of HR at Michael Page SEA and India. “Being proactive in crisis management, business continuity and preparing the organisation for the future will truly set apart a HR practitioner from a strategic HR partner for the business and its leaders,” she says.
Hiring strategies in a recovery
01 Identify what positions are crucial for business growth
02 Leverage data to inform and support your recommendations
03 Be aware of your competitors to uncover opportunities
04 Drive organisational change in a genuine business partnering capacity