HR is a complex machine, combining recruitment, retention, advice and support, then delivering those benefits to other business units across the company. And today, it faces many challenges. These can stem from issues such as changing legalities across countries to the current pressures on getting the right people in the right place.
The Landscape Has Changed
Over the past four years, there have been a lot of changes, and they haven’t all been spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Baby boomers are now slowly retiring, and Gen X isn’t far behind. With Millennials and Generation Z employees, we were already seeing a significant shift before the pandemic in working patterns and habits.
We had the technology in place and the growing ability to work from home. It only needed that kick from the pandemic to create these conditions.
Video Interviews Are Standard
Pre-Covid, video interviews were treated as part of a whole. It would have been unusual then to have a complete process, from start to finish, that at some point didn’t involve an in-person meeting. Now, however, everyone is used to doing everything on video, and it doesn’t feel strange or weird that we’ve never physically met each other.
Location Is Optional
Working in an office means you must be physically present in the area, but with the growth of remote working, location isn’t so important. This widens the talent pool that HR and recruitment can access. As a result, you can recruit for skills that aren’t common in your area.
We have to listen to what the market has to say, and it’s clear that geography isn’t that important if the candidate has the skills required to do the job. However, the company also has to make the effort to create that sense of belonging that’s required to help people feel engaged with their coworkers. Team-building is essential — but it needs to be carefully considered to ensure everyone can engage.
People in general have reviewed their priorities in life. Even though the idea of having a fulfilling job is an important goal, more people are looking at company values first — flexibility and adaptability to the modern working era are critical. Companies have to show that. When they’re approached by a recruiter or a company on LinkedIn, candidates want to see the value of joining a company compared to another one.
This means the company must differentiate what it has to offer — and not only in its mission and vision. The questions have changed: they’re no longer “why do you want to work for us”; it’s now “here’s why you should work for us.” The dynamic has shifted.
And in this shift, the idea of company reputation has also changed. It’s no longer vital to have a big name to attract talent. Instead, reputation is more focused on company culture — defining the values under which we operate, and these must be maintained across the regions and departments. This harmonization of culture helps to substitute for physically being in an office far better than any other factor.
Changes Across Regions
As the HR manager for Wildix, I work across numerous regions: in particular, the EU, Ukraine, the UK and the United States. And each area has its own microcosm of differences.
Broadly speaking, these changes have affected all these regions, with tech, admin, finance and sales jobs being especially prone to seeing industry-wide transformations. But there are regional differences, depending on local culture, politics, and working patterns. Some countries are more resistant to change, and some are less.
There are of course differences within countries, as well, with better-connected cities seeing much bigger changes, compared to more rural areas. And then there are slight differences in age demographics as well, with younger employees being more comfortable with technology and enjoying the ability to work anywhere, while older employees appreciate the new-found ability to work more on their terms, particularly where families are involved or if they’re simply tired of giving so much to work.
The UC&C Industry Is Niche
Our talent pool is already limited as we’re working in a niche industry. What we have seen in sales or highly specific tech profiles, is an increase in salary expectations and we’ve seen people prefer more stable salaries. The skillset roughly remains the same, but prospective employees are more aware of their value to the organization. Inflation has also had an impact.
Businesses in the UC&C niche, such as our partners, are also struggling to recruit and — more importantly — retain talent as a result of the growing selectiveness of the available pool. With all these changes, such as the uncertainty that’s affecting the world, every time I speak with a director or a CEO, I get the same response to the challenges they’re facing: talent.
So it’s about understanding how to remain competitive in the market. It’s not just about the job — why should someone work for us? So when I had an opportunity to present to a group of Wildix partners about the challenges we face in HR, they were very interested in understanding what we are doing to address this.
What happens is that smaller companies often don’t have a dedicated HR person, which makes everything a bit more challenging. They struggle because a CEO or a founder doing recruitment often has a very different approach to an HR professional. And this can cause long-term issues. Even C-level executives who study HR don’t have the daily time to listen to employee feedback or talk to those actively engaged in the recruitment process about their specific needs.
Those smaller companies may not invest much in HR. In some cases, they outsource their HR functions. They might need a salesperson but what kind do they need? Do they need someone experienced in the industry, or are they able to train salespeople up? The former might leave in a couple of years’ time, whereas the latter might stay because you’ve trained them well and they’re more engaged.
Sometimes smaller businesses need that position filled, so they go for the first person who applies that’s within a vague set of parameters, and that can lead to the wrong person being put in the wrong position.
This can create long-term issues, particularly if the company expands and starts looking at building its own HR or recruitment team.
Recruitment Strategy During the Great Resignation
All of this affects our strategy. It’s challenging but exciting — I deal with HR daily, and challenges bring growth and new opportunities.
Wildix now approaches recruitment by trying to understand its current workforce and their needs. At that point, we look at reskilling and upskilling — can people within the company be trained into higher positions or more niche positions? We try to get feedback on employee:
- Career progression thoughts
- Values and how they align with company values
All of these focus on the engagement of employees, as we need to help them become the number one advocate for the company. And this allows us to invest in our employees and talent, reducing churn.
If the job can be done remotely, we definitely consider that — it’s a core part of our company’s mission. Locations don’t have to be a limit, in many cases, so we don’t want to reduce the talent pool.
We also aim to restructure some profiles to zoom in on core responsibilities with stronger specializations and dedication to a narrower focus. An example would be where our sales managers no longer are generalists and do almost everything. Now we split their responsibilities into two separate jobs: one might be a farmer — they look after our current partners — and one might be a hunter — they seek out new partners.
On top of that, we build career paths. We’re implementing seniority levels, such as from our business development representatives all the way up to our senior country managers and beyond. This lets people progress within Wildix rather than having to leave our organization when they want to move up.
Sometimes, though, we look at hiring ambitious professionals who may not fit the ideal profile that we’re looking for. We look at combining critical soft skills and giving them the training they need.
It’s difficult to say whether these changes are permanent, however. There are so many aspects in play at the moment, whether it’s emerging solutions and technologies or global issues such as climate change. However, I’m confident that nothing will settle back to the pre-Covid days … at the same time, nothing will remain the same as it is now.
What I believe is that business HR must adapt to the changing realities around them. Only this way can they survive.
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