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How to Successfully Reintroduce Employees to the Workplace Following the Pandemic

Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, Human Resources professionals and recruiters may be left wondering how to reintroduce employees to the workplace once the dust has settled. This can seem like a challenging endeavor, given the upheaval and generalized anxiety caused by the global crisis. At the end of the day, leadership is essentially in the same position as their employees. Workforce reductions have forced many companies to do more with less, and this has led to employees’ getting overworked. Leadership must overcome this and create a paradigm shift from overworked, burnt-out employees to employees who are happy they still have a job and enjoy their job. HR personnel may find themselves dealing with current employees who are reluctant to return to the office for several reasons, varying from a preference for working from home to fears about being around a large group of people. Recruiters may feel hesitant to hire new employees or may run into stumbling blocks throughout the process while adjusting to the “new normal.” Implementing the following strategies will help tremendously in making current employees comfortable and finding outstanding new talent.

Silence can get misinterpreted as trouble looming on the horizon or apathy toward employee concerns. Human Resources should take the lead by sitting down with leadership to map out a positive narrative and proactive ways to connect with employees. Handling communications in a smart way will keep business operations on a smooth, steady course. It is critical to strike a balance between establishing a confident leadership stance and displaying enough vulnerability to be seen as relatable. Employees will subconsciously look to managers when determining how to react to different circumstances and developments. Therefore, managers must remain calm in every situation. This will send employees the message that they are in capable hands, and they will respond well in turn. At the same time, employees must feel they can approach their manager—that their supervisor is a human being who feels emotions just like they do. Leadership should be honest with employees about their emotions—in a professional way—and issue an open invitation for employees to speak with them privately any time.

This is the time for recruiters to be innovative. Instead of pulling back on their recruitment efforts, recruiters should come up with creative new ways to search for candidates. With many people unemployed due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, the candidate pool is vast and deep. By expanding their talent search and being receptive to jobseekers with different skill sets for each opening, recruiters could very well find a diamond or two in the rough. With the technology available to conduct virtual interviews, recruiters should take advantage of it. It really is no longer necessary to hold interviews in person because even group interviews can be held via video communications. Furthermore, many people became accustomed to using some form of video communications during the pandemic, so they already have a level of familiarity and comfort with this technology.

The majority of jobs can be done from home, as proven during lockdown. Plus, by offering remote work, companies widen their candidate pool on a national or an international scale. Companies can truly find the “best of the best” to join the team. It is important for recruiters to make it clear in job listings that the company will allow employees to do the job remotely. They can accomplish this by posting openings on job boards dedicated to remote work, in addition to general job boards. Social media is also an excellent tool for advertising job openings. Adding hashtags such as #RemoteJobs and #WorkRemotely will go a long way in reinforcing the remote option.

While LinkedIn is an excellent tool for establishing thought leadership to land new customers and spark customer loyalty among existing customers, it is also an ideal forum for attracting top talent. Companies should capitalize on the hiring benefits of LinkedIn by providing helpful job-hunting resources such as a video in which a recruiter offers tips to jobseekers. Blog posts also work for this purpose. It is best to publish this content on a regular basis to stay top of mind with talent and improve the chances of reaching more jobseekers.

If employers take anything away from this article, it should be the importance of embracing the “new normal” and remaining nimble when it comes to current employees and job candidates. A great deal of changes have occurred in the workplace, and the world may see more happen as it moves on from the pandemic. Businesses that can adapt well and quickly to new developments, and formulate creative solutions to employee-related challenges, will set themselves up for long-term success well beyond the pandemic. By Jennifer Sethre,