Measuring Organizational Change During The Pandemic

Measuring Organizational Change During The Pandemic

Measuring Organizational Change During The Pandemic

Into the Mindset of HR: A Survey of Human Resources Professionals

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed the work experience.  To understand the effect on recruiting, hiring, and employment, IIC Partners surveyed HR professionals
in the U.S. and U.K.
 

The pandemic has affected the work experience in multiple ways. In fields such as healthcare and education, some employees are experiencing burnout due to the extraordinary demands they’ve faced. Within organizations that have been forced to lay off personnel, many remaining employees have taken on extra responsibilities, and paths to advancement may no longer be clear. Many of these workers will be seeking a job change. In fact, according to Pulse of the American Worker Survey: Is This Working? A Year In, Workers Adapting to Tomorrow’s Workplace (March 2021), just over a quarter of employees are already planning to leave their current job. 

It’s clear that the needs and expectations of employees have changed forever.  HR at some organizations may be underestimating their workers’ desire to retain at least some changes from the pandemic and should consider which of these changes are important for employee retention and to attract new talent.

To view a full copy of the report, please click here to download.

Although this was not the objective of the survey, we also found a thread of unawareness regarding unconscious bias amongst many that we surveyed, skewing self-reporting about the maintenance of DEI initiatives during the pandemic, and the pandemic’s effect on employees belonging to minority groups. As companies reevaluate their culture in the coming return to work, this should be an important part of that conversation. 

Respondents

At the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, IIC Partners surveyed 311 HR professionals in the U.S. and U.K. across a wide array of industries, including those where tasks couldn’t be performed remotely.

Hiring

Though 68% reported that they had made at least one new hire since March 1, 2020, their responses to how the pandemic has affected hiring were mixed. The majority reported that the volume of applicants has increased significantly and that many of those job seekers are looking for remote work. In addition, many reported that with more talent unemployed due to the pandemic, the quality of candidates increased.

“Many candidates
are looking for
WFH beyond the
pandemic.”

“More people means a better chance of good
applicants.”

“The process was
slower due to people working from home and the volume of
applications.”

While there were reports of an increase of applicants, some respondents shared that many qualified candidates are not participating in the workforce at the moment due to concerns of contracting COVID-19. 

For those who experienced an influx of candidates, the process was generally slower due to working through more applications. Respondents also revealed that hiring is more competitive, as in-demand candidates compare offers.

“More people are afraid to go to work.”

“People have children to homeschool or at-risk family members. They are collecting
unemployment and don’t need a job right now.”

“Hiring is more competitive. A slow down in hiring has led to more people hiring now, and competitive
counter offers.”

Virtual interviewing is a skill that the majority of respondents have honed during
the pandemic. Organizations that have implemented virtual hiring processes
identified advantages of this process, which centered around efficiency and
access to more candidates.

3

“It’s easier coordinating
  interviews. People don’t
  need to take off work and
  there’s no need to book
  meeting rooms.”

“Less time wasted on
  paperwork process.”

“Virtual gives us a greater
  geographic reach.”

“It’s easier to schedule
  virtual appointments—
  more potential candidates
  show up.”

Of course, virtual hiring isn’t perfect. Some respondents indicated that they weren’t able to recruit effectively online. Others noted a lack of advantages to virtual hiring over their previous processes. The majority, however, responded that they would be incorporating some virtual hiring practices into their process post-pandemic.

“We do a lot of   campus hiring and  it’s  hard to meet people virtually.”

“Virtual interviewing is not easy.

“Hiring is the same process with different tools.”

Expectations

The most striking finding was that over half of the respondents (53%) hadn’t changed their productivity expectations while working in the pandemic. This approach may lead to burnout for employees who attempt to handle the additional stress of living through a pandemic while maintaining pre-pandemic productivity goals.

For organizations where performance expectations increased, this reflects employees having taken on additional responsibilities due to downsizing.

“We hope that employees are able to work productively even under these circumstances.”

“We have tried to make every thing as normal as possible.”

“Downsizing has resulted in more employees taking on different roles to fulfill needs.”

35% of respondents reported they had lowered performance expectations, and 

79% increased support for employee wellness and mental health, signaling an understanding of how the pandemic may be affecting their employees.

Employee Resources

Over 23% of respondents have not provided additional resources to support employee wellness and mental health during this time, and over 28% have not provided additional support to parents and caregivers.

Some respondents expressed regret that they were sending mixed messages by telling their employees that they cared for their mental health, while also assigning them additional responsibilities.

“It’s hard not to feel like you’re gaslighting staff when you say ‘your well-being is all-important’ but to keep the business going, many are working longer hours than before.”

“The focus on mental health was key.”

“We are much more flexible with schedules. Job sharing and part-time is offered more than in the past.”

“We’ve added lots of new programs that really should have been in place before.”

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION (DEI)

In addition to benefiting our society in profound ways, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs are also linked to employee satisfaction, improved internal communication, and a better understanding of clients’ needs.

We wanted to know if the pandemic had disrupted DEI initiatives, and also asked respondents if they feel their employees who belong to minority groups are feeling more or less included since March 1, 2020. Specifically, we asked if those employees feel respected and valued for who they are, don’t feel left out or excluded, and are able to contribute fully to the success of the organization.

While 88% of respondents indicating DEI efforts have undergone no change or even been positively impacted by the pandemic, some comments indicate a continued lack of understanding of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, suggesting inherent bias and the need for awareness and training.

“Why would it be if you treat everyone the same?”

“This has remained the same, just like sexual orientation procedures.”

“Race doesn’t matter.”

“There’s been an increase in diversity and inclusion conversations.”

“We have never had a problem with that situation and nothing has changed.”

“None in place.”

“We have never had a problem with that situation and nothing has changed.”

“Not a priority for the business.”

CONCLUSION
This past year has challenged many individuals, who have faced everything from the loss of loved ones to adapting to a new way of working.

While organizations may be tempted to consider working conditions this past year a short-term aberration, employees have made it clear that having a healthy quality of life is valuable enough for them to begin a new job search if necessary.

HR Professionals must be willing to look at all of their policies and see if they meet the current needs of the organization and employees. Proactive employers may be able to avoid the unnecessary loss of valuable team members. For those hiring, ensuring that DEI initiatives continue to be prioritized, along with engaging with virtual recruitment methods, can provide access to additional candidates previously excluded from the process.

Despite gaining ample attention recent years, DEI programs at many organizations are not being prioritized to a sufficient level. Those wishing to increase diversity will not be able to succeed without a strong commitment to DEI by senior leadership and comprehensive DEI training for their workforce.

About IIC Partners

IIC Partners Executive Search Worldwide (www.iicpartners.com) is a top ten global executive search organization. All IIC Partners member firms are independently owned and managed and are leaders in local and national markets, developing solutions for their client’s organizational leadership and talent management requirements. For more information, please visit www.iicpartners.com or contact Christine Hayward, Executive Director, at chayward@iicpartners.com.