7 Things COVID-19 Will Change for HR Teams and Recruiters

While the COVID threat may very well be over by next year, the newfound awareness of infectious illnesses will not be going away. Given that HR professionals and managers may sometimes meet hundreds of different people every week, it’s fair to say that they are at an elevated risk of catching infectious diseases like COVID-19. There is also the risk that they may spread any infectious diseases they contract from applicants to other people in the workplace.

Few organizations will want to knowingly risk their employees’ welfare by conducting business as usual, at least, not so soon after the pandemic. And this will be made less likely because many business owners have realized that some employees can just be as effective when working from home, if not more so.

While battered throughout the COVID pandemic, Metro Manila’s job hiring scene remained resilient. Even as businesses started furloughing employees and having reduced hours, others pivoted to new markets, and a few new jobs were even generated. But even when the immediate dangers of COVID-19 end, it’s clear that the job market will never be the same. Thus, Filipino recruiters and HR professionals may need to readjust their approaches to hiring.

Here are a few things that may change for hiring professionals in the wake of the pandemic.

1.) Fewer face-to-face interviews

The most obvious and most immediate change to the day-to-day lives of recruiters and other HR personnel is that they will hold fewer face-to-face interviews and meetings. Even as phone or video call interviews became more and more common in the past two decades, it was quite unusual for Filipino businesses to hire anyone who was not personally interviewed, particularly outside the context of executive-level hiring. While phone and video call interviews were not uncommon for initial interviews, face-to-face interviews were almost always part of the final interview process.

With the health risks now more real than they’ve ever been, this is no longer an acceptable way of doing business. With the widespread awareness of the risks of infectious disease still on our minds, chances are even final interviews will become commonplace over video call apps — at least in the near future.

2.) Leadership qualities will be needed in some entry-level jobs

The Philippine government has been attempting to encourage businesses to allow work-from-home arrangements since before the pandemic to help solve traffic in Metro Manila. Businesses have also been experimenting with work-from-home arrangements for permanent employees on a small scale. The COVID-19 pandemic has thus served as the perfect catalyst for the work-from-home trend.

One effect of the forced collective work-from-home experiment is that many businesses have found that when employees work remotely, they can save on operations costs and encourage more productivity at the same time. However, not everyone has the aptitude for working from home, which means HR professionals will need to be more vigilant about a job candidate’s ability to work independently. This means that qualities that were once only looked for in supervisory or management positions will now be highly in demand even for entry-level jobs.

3.) New legal challenges

The “new normal” of working from home and the obligation of businesses to protect their employees from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases presents several interesting questions. For example, can businesses compel employees to commute to work during a pandemic or similar crisis, as has happened in the Philippine BPO industry? What would count as a reasonable effort to protect employees? Can they prioritize retrenching or firing employees that refuse to work from home or at a job site?

While many of these legal questions have been considered or even tried in the past, the countless unexpected legal challenges that have arisen in the wake of the pandemic have made it important for HR departments to seriously consider the right courses of action.

4.) Fewer jobs overall

As to be expected from any global disaster, there will likely be fewer job openings available in the meantime. This can mean a significant reduction in the volume of work expected for some HR professionals and recruiters. In some industries, this can also mean that human resource specialists may temporarily be less in demand.

5.) More work-from-home positions — and more competition

While there are now fewer jobs to go around, a significant number of the openings are now work-from-home or logistics jobs — a reflection of the realities of the pandemic. There will also be much stiffer competition for what jobs are available — which puts some businesses in a good position.

6.) Average salary offers may drop

As what happens in times where job competition is high, salaries are largely expected to drop in most industries. This may affect how HR professionals may attempt to execute their strategies. It may even present some businesses that have positioned themselves well before the pandemic to pirate top talent that they might not otherwise have been able to afford.

7.) Tech savviness and communication skills will be more valued

Now that businesses are looking into which jobs could be permanently sent out of the office, HR and recruitment professionals are likely to start focusing on hiring people familiar with modern collaborative tools. All the better if they have good communication skills.

It’s not just work-from-home employees that will be vetted for such qualifications either. Even positions where employees are expected to commute to work will have their job requirements change. If a large portion of the people they interact with are working from home or at a remote site, then it follows that knowledge in the use of collaborative technology and effective communication skills will still prove valuable.

These are just some of the more obvious ways the COVID-19 pandemic will change the lives of Filipino HR professionals. The pandemic is still ongoing as of writing and the government and businesses are continuing to adapt to a very fluid situation. This will inevitably mean many more unexpected consequences for HR teams and recruiters.

On the other hand, we can be certain that we will survive this. Hopefully, the hard lessons of the pandemic will benefit the job market as well as the welfare of employees and businesses in the long term.