By Karen Butterfield, Business Advisor
As we start to emerge from the pandemic and associated Public Health restrictions, business leaders are looking at how they can help their organizations build back better. HR leaders in Ottawa have come together in a community of practice to discuss challenges and opportunities as we move beyond the virtual experiences of the last 16th months– in what ways will we revert to pre-pandemic practices and what virtual HR practices are here to stay?
The first in a series of three dialogue sessions looked at finding, recruiting and onboarding new talent – from a distance.
The overall takeaway is that, as in many spheres, COVID constraints on meeting in person forced us to adopt different practices in an accelerated time frame and changed approaches to recruiting. There is an opportunity, and in fact, a real need to take a deliberate approach to designing new virtual practices better as opposed to tweaking old in-person practices and experiences to force them to work on virtual platforms, which in many cases is what we were forced to do over this past year and a half or so.
A few key examples of opportunities to design and adopt new approaches are in networking through job fairs, recruiting during interviews, and onboarding.
Virtual job fairs don’t offer that chance to meet face to face and interact in-person to develop quick connections. However, virtual job fairs can be very efficient and enable employers and candidates from around the world to connect. It seems the secret to success is to facilitate targeted one-on-one meetings in the virtual space to enable productive connections to be made and leveraged.
There are similar drawbacks to conducting interviews online due to the lack of in-person interaction and the challenges of developing rapport and getting to know candidates. However virtual interviews also allow employers (and candidates) to expand the net they cast by being able to schedule meetings for participants from anywhere – and even at any time, through asynchronous interview steps early in the process (such as video recorded candidate responses to employer questions). Employers also notice that the lack of the need to commute makes people more available for scheduling of interviews.
Last, but certainly not least in key talent acquisition, are the processes to facilitate onboarding of new hires so that they can hit the ground running and become a contributor to their teams – not a simple task in a remote work environment where many have never been to their new place of work or met a colleague in person. Again the challenges are clear, and it seems very time-consuming to try and overcome them by simply doing the same things to welcome and integrate new employees that were done before, but on yet another video conference call. How are new employees to be engaged and inspired with more “please keep your cameras on”/” you’re on mute”?
But necessity is the driver of invention, and employers are reporting trends in onboarding that will be further developed rather than left behind post-pandemic. These newer practices range from assigning new employee peer cohorts and experienced mentors from the outset to building innovative modular on-line training and orientation programs to deliberately and systematically introduce new hires to everything from product offerings, technical, design and project approaches, and company tools and policies.
With most employers expecting to move to some kind of hybrid work environment in the future, the opportunities to improve on remote work practices put into place during the pandemic are significant – and the risks of not doing so are even more significant, especially in the continuing and now more global competition for tech talent. The challenges are great too, as many are now recognizing that it might be simpler to have a homogeneous work environment, with all employees working either in person or remotely all of the time. So while remote working has presents challenges for teams and organizations, the opportunity – and need – for real deliberate work to design productive approaches in a hybrid future work environment lie ahead.
This September and October the community of practice will discuss two more key aspects of the future work environment and key HR practices:
In-TAC’s “WITT” (Women IT Teleworkers program) was founded to assist Internationally Trained Professional women find their place in the Ottawa tech sector. Through this program, sponsored by the City of Ottawa, In-TAC has the opportunity to bring Ottawa business leaders together in a community of practice looking at how we build back better post-pandemic through improved key HR practices for the future work environment. It also provides the opportunity for employers to connect with Internationally Trained women with tech skills and experience, trained in remote and hybrid work practices and poised to contribute to Ottawa’s economy and our tech businesses.
To join the next WITT Employer Community of Practice Dialogue Session, find more details on program opportunities for employers message Karen Butterfield at: