Re-prioritizing in times of crisis

Apr 02, 2020 - Joe Matar

Week 2, Question 2: With all the uncertainty and changes that you are facing, how have you re-prioritized how you (or your team) add(s) value to your organization? Or, what is something that you are doing now that you weren't doing before the crisis or what is something you were doing before the crisis that you are no longer doing?

I asked our group of TA/HR leaders a question about what they are re-prioritizing in this time of crisis. And the responses varied across the board depending on the industry, company, or even team.

Responses ranged from "throwing out job descriptions" to "spending more time talking with team members" as they adjust to remote work to very quickly finding out what is broken and what is working in the recruiting process.

Just like we learned last week, things are changing daily so even this list might be outdated by the end of the week. But until then, check out all of our responses below.

Blake Theiss - Director of Talent Acquisition at Prestige Care, Inc.

We threw out our job descriptions and have gone “all in” on hiring rank and file entry level team members to staff our buildings now, and what is to come. This includes setting up interviews for local teams, cold sourcing, and more.

Justen Baxter - Strategic Sourcing Team Manager at SAIC

I was already managing a team of 15+ staff virtually, but I am spending more time with talking about how I can accommodate an support them, being flexible and realizing they themselves or immediate family members are battling this virus right now and the last thing I want is for work to become a major stressor for them. Keeping them feeling safe, secure and listening to their worries while also being transparent and honest, it’s a fine line of personal/professional but I think it is vitally important in this unique time to be a more dynamic manager and take each employee and adjust to their needs while also keeping focused on work/production output and also accommodating there work/life balance during this very difficult period in our country.

Jen Tracy – VP of Recruiting Solutions at Spectrum

I really think that this season of our lives was put in place to really challenge us with evaluating “what is a need” both professionally and personally.  To that end, we first started on triage type items so our teams could virtualize our recruiting process. As a leader, I always challenge my team to think three years out to ensure we have what we need from a technology perspective.  We have had our video options in place for many years but have continued to optimize with new vendors, including Brazen. Having these in place already made this effort an easy transition, but obviously drove adoption in places where there was still opportunity.  We still have over 3,000 positions to fill and they need to filled to ensure that the internet is up and running for our customers.  We have now shifted to more of how can we pipeline candidates from university, military and also other company partners who are furloughing employees to try and help people to be identifying their next opportunity. Another aspect that has been a silver lining is how much I’ve been able to quickly benchmark with other TA leaders who are facing the same thing.  No one was perfectly prepared for this pandemic, but leveraging each other, sharing resources and best practices will be something I think we will be grateful that we pursued. I’ve also seen a lot of political gamesmanship take a side step which is really refreshing.  And last but not least, while we also have more white space on our calendars we are thinking about the future – three to five years out to ensure we are getting our tools and processes in really good shape to support our business that deploys 10G services to our customers.

Ted Bauer – Writer, Editor, and Marketer

I would shift everything to helping support employees, in the name of "employer brand." Layoffs might happen, but don't be [inhuman] about it. Be real and human and over-communicate and contextualize and explain what's happening. Because we are all trying to be so data-driven these days, I would also be a leader on data. Open up some non-proprietary data about employee costs, overall spend, cash on hand, etc. I am sure that might terrify Carmen CFO, but lack of transparency around money and what's happening creates a weird context. Laid off employees are then like "Well, I know we did 100M last year! How is my salary somehow not supported in all this?" So, data and employer brand should be the three-month focus.

Theresa Mazzaro - Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine

I am privileged to work for Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. We are at the forefront of COVID-19 as a healthcare system and we are in receipt of a steady stream of information. It’s a bit overwhelming at times, but we are doing great things here!
Our new challenges (this week):
  1. Creating letters that we share with new hires as they come in for onboarding appointments. They don’t have a badge yet and the whole DC/Maryland/Virginia area is in one form of lock-down or another, so we need to be creative in making sure our new hires make it to their appointments without getting fined.
  2. Partnering with agencies to help with transportation of our current employees that work Evening and Night Shift. Our public transportation options have drastically reduced, with Metro stations closed and bus routes cancelled. We still have to run the hospital, so it’s leveraging other options to get our folks safely home and to work.
  3. Planning on our monthly New Employee Orientation to be mostly virtual. How do we maintain the regulatory requirements, welcome our new hires, and maintain our social distance? More to come on that!
  4. Licensing issues for our clinical staff. Each state is doing something a little different and we are working through how it will impact our new hires.

Mona Javid - Talent Management at 3Pillar Global

With distributions comes the need for a quick change and quick change can bring uncertainty, concern, and questions. What my team has focused on is bringing clarity and communication with speed and thoughtfulness to our team members. We have prioritized how we share communication, the rhythm, the style, the medium, and consistency. We have focused on bringing the needed materials and resources to our teams and increasing our virtual presence on internal and external systems.  Our teams were used to our physical presence and voice and we need to make sure we are also present in their new workspace at home. This prioritization of connectivity has brought larger cultural bonds to our global team and even increase best practices, learning & development, and collaboration cross-functionally. Interestingly before the crisis, we struggled to adapt processes to a remote situation, now with our new focus, we have started to think about how we can maintain the culture we have created through this virtual state.

Brian White -  Executive Director of Human Resources and Operations at Auburn-Washburn Unified School District 437

The public education industry is very much an in-person, on-site operation.  We found ourselves in a situation very quickly where school buildings were shut down.  As an organization we suddenly shifted from classroom instruction and providing in school services to the implementation of a distance learning, preparing and distributing “grab and go” meals to students, and maintaining facilities needs to complete essential district functions.   Human resources had to reprioritize services, and support the district and staff in accomplishing these essential functions.  We had to ask what was needed to be done to support this, what could be done virtually, and how to overcome obstacles. As we worked with departments, individuals, processes, and systems we asked "how can we?" rather than stopping at "we can't."  We also asked how it could be done virtually, or how it could be accomplished while maintaining social distancing. I have never seen anything change with such rapid pace, and so drastically, in my career. Flexibility and adaptability have become more critical than ever before.

Susan (Strayer) LaMotte – Founder and CEO at exaqueo

At exaqueo, we are trying to simply provide as many free and accessible resources as possible. During these times, we all have to come together as a community to help. So whether you’re Fortune 500 or you only have 5 employees, a crisis like this can hit you hard. Further, employer brand and talent acquisition teams often aren’t considered in the immediate response. In a survey we recently ran, we found that 49% of employer brand teams weren’t even consulted in the crisis response. Further, many of them aren’t being advised on a plan and have to assess their own audiences and impact on their own. We created a crisis response center with communication templates, a communications worksheet, held several webinars and made recordings and slides open to all. We have a crisis response email address where anyone—clients or otherwise—can reach out with questions or needs. We truly believe in the power of our community and continue to seek ways can focus on service over self at this time.

Ryan Gillis – Sourcing Expert, Leader, and Head of SourceCon D.C.

I've spoken with several companies about their emergency operations plan and how crucial it is for them. Before they just had a point of contact and some procedures in place but didn't have anything structured to continue working if normal business operations were disrupted due to severe weather, disaster, health or any reason. They are now building plans to allow for work to continue regardless as long as people can get access to a computer. With the right plan and technologies in place, you only need simple backup plans in place to keep you up and running. It's different for every company but here are some of key things that everyone can do to at little to no cost:

Michael Poerksen – President of Loudoun County SHRM

My answer is simple as I am currently looking for my next HR or TA opportunity, ideally FT but would consider contractual work as I’m no longer employed by MyEyeDr.   I continue to lead Loudoun SHRM, as I will be participating in a quarterly HR VA call on 4.3.20, hosting a COVID-19 crisis webinar on 4.7.20, and scheduling our monthly (Zoom) board meeting on 4.14.20.  I also participated in a SHRM leadership volunteer webinar on 4.1.20. I continue to leverage my strong (HR) network in hopes of finding my next opportunity. I also remain a sounding board for others who have either been either laid off or furloughed from their former employers, and remain optimistic that we will be individually and collectively stronger in the long run as we emerge from this pandemic crisis.

Sarah Moffat – Learning & Development and Founder of Leading Ladies

One of the best things I'm seeing is leaders being transparent about what's going on, challenges, successes, and what's not working and actively seeking out-of-the-box ideas and solutions. This whole situation has forced innovation on people who've been reluctant and created tons of space for creativity. In how we're adding value, it's by fully and holistically embracing our strategic goals and values of 'people first' and 'innovation' in a way that we never have before. I'm seeing the true leaders shining and its heartening and encouraging. I'm seeing teams banding together and pushing each other up in areas of strength, and filling in for each other in weaker areas. In the government, I've heard of agencies who are pushing to fill hundreds of positions using new hiring flexibilities and expedited hiring timelines. These are challenging times and, in general, I see folks rising to the challenge by prioritizing people first, and innovation/creativity. #hellyeah

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Stay safe out there!

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