Doing more with less: how COVID-19 has impacted talent acquisition

talent acquisition, recruitment

As Australia cautiously begins its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are restarting recruitment plans. HR professionals and recruiters must be creative and cost-effective in their approach to talent acquisition and workforce planning.

Role analysis

For many organisations, the pandemic forced HR to undertake a detailed analysis of each role. This helped businesses to understand the skills in their workforce and individual competency, capacity and capability. Changing hiring requirements, consolidating roles, using project teams, mobilising talent with an internal gig economy, or at worst leaving a role vacant are all alternative ways to achieve business objectives.

The internal-first approach

One way for budget-constrained HRs to fill a role is to turn to internal sources. By managing people and talent through technology, HR can leverage the skills and capability across the business to close immediate gaps. Promotion and placement of employees is also useful if there is someone who has performed well in their current role and is ready to step into a new role. For many small to medium businesses, high-potential talent lies within the business and the cost of internal recruitment can be substantially less than an external approach.

The benefits of an “internal first” recruitment strategy go beyond cost reduction. Research by Global Industry Analyst, Josh Bersin, found that organisations that have a strong internal growth culture tend to breed stronger leadership. Bersin found that employees that grow with a company for many years and move between different roles gain multiple perspectives, insights and skills, and are ultimately best positioned to lead others. Recruiters should remember that for many roles, an organisation’s highest-potential talent source is its own workforce.

Employee learning and development is critical

This is not to say that an internal hiring approach isn’t without its challenges. According to Bersin, while lateral career moves from one area to another area in the same department aren’t complicated, it can be very difficult for employees to reinvent themselves if they have moved to an entirely new role. To make the most of an ‘internal first’ recruitment strategy, organisations should have an established learning and development program, that equips talent with the technical abilities to fill any skills gap.

The cost of a poor hire

It’s no secret that the cost of recruitment can be high. According to recent research by ELMO, the average cost of hiring a new employee is $11,865. Recruitment teams hiring externally are under pressure to ensure there is return on investment. Hiring the wrong person for a role can create many challenges for HR. The wrong hire can impact team time and performance, and be expensive for the business; costing as much as 30 per cent – 150 per cent of the new hire’s salary on top of recruitment costs. Additionally, there will be time lost to recruit a replacement.

Making the right decision

Given the huge costs that can come from making a poor hiring decision, businesses need to take the right steps to ensure the correct candidate is selected. Due diligence must be followed to make informed decisions. To do this HR must ensure positive and consistent interview experiences, hold skills such as teamwork, collaboration and creativity in high regard, look for alignment for fit, culture and values, conduct reference checks and test the skills of candidates. Once a new hire has been selected, a structured onboarding is critical outlining clear objectives and ensuring easy access to support is required.

With so much turbulence outside of an organisation’s control, it is critical that HR and recruiters use all the strategies they can control to fill roles effectively.

Monica Watt, Chief Human Resources Officer, ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll