The global pandemic continues to reshape the way we work and the job market in ways we haven’t seen in decades. Businesses are being forced to rethink and pivot their digital strategies and tools in order to match the ever-changing scenario of new health restrictions and confinements.

Considering this “new normal”, business leaders and HR experts also had to adapt, facing the unique challenge of remotely recruiting and onboarding a dispersed workforce.

Noémi Biro, Head of Talent Acquisition & Talent Management at PwC Luxembourg, sheds some light on the challenges of recruiting and onboarding new joiners post-COVID-19, and offers some tips on how businesses can successfully overcome them while working remotely.

  1. How exactly did HR change because of the COVID pandemic?

The role of HR has never been more in the ‘spotlight’ than it is these days. Human resources organisations are still trying to find new ways of engaging, retaining, evaluating and recognising their talents in changing circumstances. One of the main changes for HR was remote working. And it only works if employees feel empowered and trusted by their leaders. People manage to  adapt quickly to events and circumstances, showing flexibility and resilience. HR should be ready to support them by providing a solid, multidimensional performance, and talent management framework where employees receive continuous feedback and development opportunities.

  1. What challenges came to light when talking about remote recruitment?

Previously, we organised all of our interviews onsite. From one day to another we shifted to doing them all virtually. The main concern was how to make sure we can still assess and select the best talents without meeting them face-to-face. And we did. Our HR teams seemed to transition to the new type of hiring pretty quickly. However, the lack of physical interaction is still a pain-point for most of them.

  1. How are new joiners impacted by this “remote” way of onboarding, compared to the traditional style? Does the lack of human contact and interaction change anything for them? Are there any advantages?

Before the pandemic outbreak, we had our New Joiners Welcome Day at our main premises, in Crystal Park. Since last May, we transformed this to a virtual onboarding day where we provide the same programme, but remotely. Some teams should stay in the office during their first two weeks if their job requires them to (i.e. for client visits, etc.).

Of course, it would be a different experience if all new employees could hang out with their team for lunch and breaks when they start. But on the other hand, we see the increasing effort of mentors, onboarding buddies to cover these ‘gaps’ and help their new teammates bond with each other virtually as well. It changes things, without a doubt, but not necessarily in a bad way, it’s just different.

  1. What can businesses do, or implement, to successfully get around these challenges and facilitate recruitment and onboarding?

In recruitment, there are many tools that can be applied to select and assess candidates online. A balanced combination of such tools and online interviews would provide sufficient ground to make high-quality hiring decisions.

When it comes to onboarding, we have to reinforce the importance of the onboarding “buddies” role and of team leaders, who are better acquainted with proximity management than most.

Another solution might be to implement a Virtual Reality (VR) experience into the onboarding practice, such as we did. Our employees can walk around in the beautiful building of Crystal Park, but they also have the option to take a 360° virtual tour of our gym, reception, cafeteria, and dedicated parts of the building through a VR glass.