Hello PPMA Friends

This week we launched our Lunch & Learn webinar series and our first one was run by our good friends and supporter at Penna. Managing Director Julie Towers was joined by some of her colleagues who shared with us what challenges and opportunities they see emerging around Talent during the COVID-19 crisis. Jason Wheatley from Penna wrote a blog post following the session which we’re delighted to share with you.

“Jason Wheatley, Penna’s lead for the HR Executive practice, speaks to his network about the many challenges faced by HR Leaders. What’s clear from his conversations is the way we approach talent acquisition and retention has shifted.

The Coronavirus pandemic sent organisations worldwide into crisis management, business continuity and response mode overnight. HR Leaders and their teams were thrust to the forefront of guiding employers, supporting employees and navigating the raft of immediate people issues and rapidly shifting priorities as the UK entered lockdown.

Recent conversations with HR leaders demonstrated the public sector’s response was swift, calm and appropriate. Not surprisingly they have already begun to move from response to planning recovery.

There is no doubt the challenges and uncertainties are many. I spoke to my network about what’s on the horizon for HR and OD Teams in respect of recruitment and retention Here’s their key priorities

Embracing technology – moving online

Whilst many already deploy online application systems and digital attraction, traditional methods of interviewing and assessing face-to-face are untenable. Appointing to roles remotely is already becoming the art of the possible.

But there are challenges when attracting, processing, interviewing and assessing digitally. Hiring managers must be suitably equipped to do this effectively. HR recruitment teams are critical in supporting their organisations here. But conversations with HRDs revealed there’s a knowledge gap within their own teams. For digital help and support with online recruitment methods, speak to us, in the last few weeks we’ve delivered end to end recruitment – nearly 40 hires made without any human meeting – not preferable we know, but very possible.

Onboarding new hires virtually is a key component of talent attraction. Traditional induction with face to face programmes can be shifted effectively online.

This virtual reality is changing recruitment practice, policy and process now and the future. The resounding message from my network; “we won’t be going back to the way we were”.

Understanding and managing shifted expectations

Candidates will have different expectations and potentially be more demanding moving forward. Smart HR teams know this isn’t negative.

Flexible and agile working options rather than a need to be “present” in an office will be expected.

Social distancing is here for a long time yet. Travelling, particularly on public transport, enforced office social distancing and fear of a second peak mean a mass return to the original work location is not possible yet.  Many senior HR leaders are considering how to address this.

Others are considering how their workforce have upskilled during this time. Some current employees have been doing different jobs, learning new skills and gaining more experience. Many may resist going back to their old job. This could present organisations with issues around productivity, engagement, staff morale and some could vote with their feet, opting to move within or indeed out.

It will be key for retention for organisations to learn and adapt, providing opportunities for internal talent.

Employee Offer – Review and adapt employee contracts and benefits

Organisations should support employee wellbeing. Mentally, physically, financially and emotionally.

Employees health risks are not just physical but also psychological. This has become apparent during isolation, with anxiety and fear levels rising across workforces. Many employees will be experiencing difficult situations at home such as juggling childcare, bereavement, illness, financial worries or caring for a vulnerable relative.

Support beyond lockdown, and even a period of adjustment to return to work, work locations, health and well-being options, flexible working hours are just a few of the considerations for HR practitioners.

Candidate market for new or specialist skills

Organisations need to assess their skill and resource needs dynamically and plan effectively for when and how they will recruit them. In the public sector this will inevitably be against a difficult financial envelope.

It is likely that specialist, short term skills will be required to support and provide subject matter expertise to organisations through change, transformation and organisational development.

Given our population is largely at home and there’s increased online traffic there is a captive audience a new challenge or role, what a great time to be recruiting for permanent, fixed term contract, temporary and interim. Whether that’s for people already working in the public sector, or those who had never considered it an option previously.

We are seeing an upturn in demand for specialist HR support. Talk to us, we’ll help you access and talk to the candidate pool you need.

The future of HR

HR needs to be a critical friend, and the proactive driver of change – in all of the ways outlined above.

The future of work is changing for all, through necessity if not by choice. For the public sector – with it’s traditional, bureaucratic and often lengthy recruitment practices – it provides an opportunity for broader change.

There’s a recognised need within the HR community to rapidly evolve to the modern, but still thorough, recruitment lifecycle. COVID-19 has created what was previously perceived impossible. It’s imperative that HR and business leaders across the public sector learn, evolve, develop and embrace and be sure to “never let a crisis go to waste”.

So yes, HR is changing. But is that a bad thing? We look forward to finding, exciting and securing the HR and OD talent that can shape the future.

Talk to Penna

If you’d like to speak about all things HR – from executive recruitment to digital attraction – contact Jason Wheatley at [email protected].”

You can watch the full webinar below.