Should People Go Back Into The Office And Interview?

Can it be ‘green for go’ when it comes to office interviews?

How comfortable are you interviewing in the office? Or should the question be: at what point will you feel comfortable interviewing in the office?

These are questions that must be asked. A lot of people seem to be squeamish about broaching the subject and that is totally understandable. No one wants to look like the bad guy and feel like they are forcing people into dangerous situations.

Now we are not saying that video interviewing needs to stop. They have kept people safe and have been so powerful for the continuity of business. Video interviews will always have a place and a purpose somewhere.

Now before we go on, no candidates or interviewers should feel pressured to do an interview face-to-face. This must be made clear and they must be given the choice of face-to-face or video. If a face-to-face interview happens, it must be located in a private space outside or in a very well-ventilated, spacious area indoors. The participants should be a few metres apart. Masks should be worn. Hand sanitiser should be freely available. Guidelines must be followed.

Now you may be asking why people should be interviewing face-to-face and the simple reason is because we are reaching a point where video interviews are not working as they should.

Being honest, there has always been something lacking in video interviews, and it wasn’t the bad connections or the dodgy webcams or audio trouble. It has been that they do not help you represent your company well enough to the candidate.

Candidates don’t really know about your company. They can look at your website and they can check your social media but they do not know how your business feels. They don’t know the vibe of the office. There is a big difference between how you represent your company digitally, and how your business is in real life.

What differentiates you from the other companies who are interviewing in the exact same way? Nothing. The disconnectedness of the situation feels universal. Whatever else you think about interviews, they are a performance, and if you can’t give a good performance, you will not impress. People have stopped switching on their cameras when chatting as the constant availability at work has led to a kind of webcam fatigue. And that is before we even talk about how tech issues can add an extra, unneeded layer of tension to the proceedings. Having a camera positioned above a computer screen can also lead to distractions, as some interviewers still check emails instead of giving their full attention, like they would be forced to if in a face-to-face.

Candidates are rejecting higher offers for reasons other than money. The same Covid-19 that kickstarted the necessity for video interviews has also sparked a reassessment of priorities. The marketplace has gone ballistic and everyone wants the top quality prospects but if it looks like you aren’t bothered or can’t differentiate yourself from any other company, they will choose another option. This only gets worse, the more specialised the candidate is.

The companies that will be most successful hiring new candidates will be the ones who get around video interviews somehow. Whatever form this takes, it will overtake video interviews through the sheer need for a deeper experience. We are human beings and we need these types of interactions to feel like we belong. Just because people are working from home, doesn’t mean they don’t long for connection. Would you take a job if you felt no connection to that company at all?

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Is Your Company Afraid Of Tech?

Be careful not to spook the ‘tech fearful’

With the Covid-19 crisis, more people have been working from home and, in doing so, have been exposed to more technology than they may have had to work with prior to the move to home-based working. It was an easier time back then, when people could avoid technology if they really wanted to, relying on the IT department to help them with their set-up and passwords. The future will require more ‘Tech Savvy’ workers so we are looking at how that can become a reality for your business.

Some tech-friendly workers have left jobs because their company wasn’t willing to supply them with newer digital tools. 40%, according to a Randstad poll. Others have actively avoided those new tools if they were given the chance to work with them. Your business must position itself to retain both of those types of workers, while ensuring it has a good grip on the future technology that can really aid the business goals moving forward.

So what will the strategy be? The new generation of workers are entering the workforce knowing how to code, use photoshop and own social media, while older workers struggle to use their smartphone.

Training must be the first port of call for your strategy. Informal group training sessions, perhaps over a Zoom call, can be really useful to identify knowledge gaps. The environment should be fun and light-hearted, so as not to intimidate those who are fearful of being exposed as luddites. People do learn better in informal spaces and this can also encourage them to come forward, later on down the line, and ask for help with something they are struggling with. This kind of initiative must be baked in to your company’s ethos and must be continued after the initial excitement has died down. As we all know, learning never stops, especially in the tech space.

This can come in especially handy when you bring in new tech to the business. Your future plans should include these up-to-date investments, as you do not want your business to mirror the actions of the tech fearful hold-outs, nervous about the next innovation. The more thrifty amongst you may not see the purpose of upgrading or changing a perfectly good system, but you must not rest on your laurels and you must keep ahead of the game when it comes to your competition. If you do this, your workforce will become more used to having to learn about tech as part of their roles. As we said before, it has to be part of your business’ ethos and it all starts from the top.

Patience is required. When people learn, they first usually make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes. Everyone has done it, yet no one seems to remember that they did. We must not spook the tech fearful. If, from the training Zoom call, you identify someone who has fallen so far behind that they cannot do simple things, that person must be encouraged and nurtured to learn and embrace technology. It may require extra work but it will be worth it, because if they can do it, and with your help, you can achieve anything together. If they are using it correctly, this can result in a great ROI.

Research becomes a part of the business. If you can encourage the whole workforce to embrace tech, your ability to anticipate changes or even diversify how you do business as opposed to the old way you used to do business, that will stand you in good stead for future competition. That knowledge base that you grow within your company, just by encouraging those within it to become less fearful of technology, becomes useful when you upgrade your systems. It emboldens them to voice their concerns or ideas. You can learn where the system has been falling short in terms of handling the day-to-day business, and they can suggest ways to improve it, or innovations they have been learning about. Never underestimate the value your workforce can provide your business when they are engaged with technology.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Returning To Work?

Empty offices may soon fill up again but is everyone happy?

With the recent report finding that UK employees are the most reluctant in Europe to return to the office, it raises interesting thoughts about the changing attitude towards employers in this country but also poses the question: what is the correct course of action now that lockdown seems to be easing?

Personio Software, recently conducted a survey of employees and found that a third of those surveyed had returned to an office environment as opposed to almost two thirds who had returned there, on the continent.

This news comes on the heels of Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, confessing his doubts that workers will return to a daily commute once the working from home guidance subsides.

Interestingly, just over a third of those surveyed by Personio shared that they felt that their employer was resisting a more mixed working solution in favour of an insistence on office attendance. There is a clear divide between employees’ and employers’ visions for the future.

It may come as a surprise to some employers that 25% admitted that they plan to resign if made to work from the office. Workers are eager for more control of their working conditions.

Yes, finding the correct balance is tough and those who have already gone through it have found it a steep learning curve. Many workers are noting a decline in productivity when not in close proximity to their colleagues. Being in close proximity is, of course, one of the barriers halting a return to normality. There are two diametrically opposed needs, which cancel each other out. People need to be around people for productivity’s sake but also for mental wellbeing.

It is now just over a year since the lockdown came into force, and we are seemingly trapped in a low morale conundrum. If employees feel a lack of control over their safety and destiny, they will leave that job, or feel unhappy within it, which will affect productivity and if they work from home, away from co-workers, they feel alone and that affects productivity. This leaves managers with an unenviable task.

This is before we have even mentioned health issues or home-schooling, which certainly have an impact on time and energy and can lead to serious fatigue.

With the roll-out of vaccines, it looks like we are really turning a corner. The optimists amongst us hope for this to be completed around summer, but the realist knows that this may drag on until the new year. A lot of businesses, struggling to stay above water, need this to happen sooner rather than later and their desperation is palpable.

Companies need to be realistic and seriously consider adopting hybrid working styles, when it is safe to do so. Any who have been stalling on investment in technology, should notice the sea change amongst their employees and recognise that things have truly changed. It took Covid-19 to accelerate the uptake of remote working aided by new software services which make it possible to perform group tasks outside of the office. Obviously, as we mentioned before, people need face-to-face interaction, so the tech side is not a silver bullet, but until Covid-19 has been vanquished, senior managers must make decisions to preserve their workforce and, ultimately, their business.

What this really comes down to is communication. Employers must listen to their employees’ concerns. With communication comes understanding and discussion and resolution. One thing that definitely negatively impacts quality and quantity of an employee’s work is their feeling that they are not valued or listened to. A thing that should come out of this crisis, it is that we should not lose sight of the fact that there is always time to listen.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Online Recruitment Sites Are Not As Helpful As They May Seem

For those looking to hire, there are many drawbacks with online recruitment

We caught up with a management partner recently and after an interesting chat, we thought it may be a good idea to address the realities of using online platforms for recruitment.

There is a misconception that using online recruitment platforms takes the hassle out of finding new employees. It can actually consume more time and resources than hiring a specialist recruiter.

Let’s use an example of an online job ad that draws in 1500 candidates. Some draw in less and some draw in more but we will use an example like this because, we have noticed due to Covid-19 furloughing and businesses folding, there are more active job seekers in the market. These would probably be whittled down to 8 candidates to take through to the next interview stage.

To whittle those 1500 down, you will require someone to dedicate their time. An HR Manager on their own probably couldn’t get through it in a timely fashion whilst also fulfilling their other duties so they would probably need an assistant to help. This is already costing the company time and money. These services are not cheap either. Obviously, prices vary but for those fees you would expect to be provided with some kind of admin to help you sift through the applications.

How do you know you are getting the best and not missing out? Well, you don’t. Sometimes a candidate will apply to a job without reading the job ad and isn’t actually interested in the job when they find out more information. If this type of candidate is removed from the equation, it will save the company some resources.

Some of these sites work primarily for social networking with added job search functions so they do not help you build trust with prospects. They do not help persuade a candidate. They do not help you highlight the perks of working for the company without having to oversell.

According to Glassdoor, 35% of those in full employment would switch jobs without the need of a pay rise, so you are actually missing out on great prospects who are not actively looking for a job yet.

It may be so obvious but good candidates are hired quickly. If you have 1500 applications and you are working through them as quickly as you can, even two people working full time will take around a week to finish this task. In times like these when there are quite a few job seekers and where companies are confidently seeking out the exact right candidate to fill the role, it is safe to say that they can get the exact candidate but only if they move quickly and decisively to capture them. Wait around and they will have been approached and signed up by another company. Those other 1499 candidates are standing in your way.

The spray and pray approach, where you are targeting a large group and hoping to find someone with the relevant skills, can work sometimes but, more often than not, it results in wasted resources and little result to show for them.

Sifting through that amount of candidates is just too impersonal. To move at pace and get through them all, each resume will only get a few seconds to make an impression before moving onto the next one. If someone’s CV is not great or has not been updated recently, they are on the rejection pile automatically. What is needed, and what this approach prohibits, is deeper research. Traditional recruiters still have those skills that are needed. They still search and research, they still communicate, they still talk on the phone and via video call. They can read between the lines when it comes to a CV or cover letter.

Junior candidates and graduates will often find jobs by other means, set alerts or go directly to company websites, so using the online recruitment services may be missing out on a huge demographic. At all points, opportunities are missed when using online recruitment sites. A company must weigh its options and work out whether it is really saving time and money that way.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

What Can We Do About Office Working?

Offices lay almost empty across the world

In response to our last blog regarding depression experienced by homeworkers, what are managers feeling about the situation? We are receiving feedback that managers feel that things will never go back to how it was before Covid-19, when you needed to have someone at their desk 5 days a week, but they feel people need to be back in the office interacting with each other.

Even though lockdowns are coming and going with seeming regularity, we have data from polls throughout last year which point us in certain directions. A ManpowerGroup poll conducted in June point to findings that UK and US workers were much more reticent than their fellow workers in Europe, Mexico and Singapore.

Towards the end of the year, a poll conducted for Morgan Stanley showed that just under 50% more French office workers returned to work than UK office workers.

And managers are fully aware of this and are struggling to find solutions. A recent survey conducted by Martec Group found that only 16% of workers considered themselves ‘thriving’ when homeworking. The negative mental health impact from being separated from the working and social community of the workplace is damaging confidence. And that is not even touching the decline in productivity reported, with around 40% of respondents noticing a decline.

The tech leaders like Google have hinted that office working will return as soon as it possibly can. The first question that requires answering is ‘who first?’. Reed Hastings, one of the CEOs of Netflix has commented that the lack of face-to-face meetings is a “pure negative”.

As most things are, this cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Rather than selecting the return of those with a certain role, one must consider an individual’s situation. It must be ascertained whether a worker is one of those who are thriving or one of those who are suffering. Managers must be agile and sensitive to the approaches they take as most will never have experienced this way of working and have never been required to make these kinds of decisions before, decisions that are integral to the full productivity of the company.

The Martec poll identified ‘thriving’, ‘hopeful’, ‘discouraged’ and ‘trapped’ as the four main categories of worker that managers must figure out how to deal with appropriately.

The ‘thrivers’ tend to be introverts and also, interestingly, are predominantly female and predominantly in entry-level jobs. They are happy to have a reduced commute.

Those who are most ‘hopeful’ are a mixed bag of seniors and juniors, dedicating themselves to making it work despite missing chats around the watercooler.

A ‘discouraged’ worker could be either male or female, usually extroverted and aged from mid-20s to mid-40s. Interestingly, these are predominantly management level employees and could explain why managers are keen to get everyone back to the office.

Those feeling ‘trapped’ were primarily younger employees frustrated by both working from home and how the working from home situation has been handled by management.

Of course, bringing people back not only depends on the employee, but the employer. The only way to maximise the potential within a company is to create a space where the employee is allowed to identify and communicate their needs to a receptive organisation.

The C-suite need to leave their own personal preferences out of the equation. A response from a CEO about certain employees ‘gaming the system’ must be dealt with on an individual basis, not as a team. If allowed to fester this can affect the whole team and destroy a productive atmosphere. On the flipside, those who remain remotely working must not be forgotten about and passed over for promotion because they are not able to participate in face-to-face meetings all of the time.

We have been helping businesses access talent that wouldn’t normally be considered due to location or distance from the office. Creating unique hiring plans and strategies, particularly around whether some skill sets need to be in the office or not, means we can make a real difference, so if you are in any doubt over how to precede, you can always engage Zenshin Talent to help.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.