Social distancing guidelines, mandatory face masks, home office regulations and widespread cuts to working hours – our world has fundamentally changed over the last few weeks. It is impossible to predict how long these exceptional circumstances will last, and how companies will survive the coronavirus pandemic financially. This is why businesses are currently exercising caution when it comes to hiring new staff.
Although this cautious approach is warranted, there are still bound to be fluctuations in any company – with employees resigning, retiring, going on parental leave or leaving for other reasons. Not only that, but new jobs are also being generated despite the ongoing pandemic. How can HR departments fill these new positions in spite of the current restrictions?
An opportunity for staff and companies
Particularly (although not exclusively) in times like these, when companies are not able or allowed to consider external applicants, recruiting from within their existing staff is their preferred strategy. This applies even though – or indeed because – it means certain positions within the company will be left vacant. After all, this crisis may not be the right time for wholesale restructuring, but cost pressures are bound to force companies to reconsider the necessity of certain positions. With companies facing an uncertain future, internal recruitment gives them an opportunity to fill vacant positions without having to lay off employees elsewhere. More to the point, good staff members are reluctant to leave their current employer during these times.
Making a change seem appealing
If companies are to fill open positions through internal recruitment, their staff must first be eager and willing to embrace change. Transferring to another department must therefore be a straightforward, fair and, above all, positive process, with minimal hoops for employees to jump through. This is because potential candidates will only put themselves forward if they are confident that submitting an internal application will not have any negative consequences (e.g. from superiors) and if they know a rejection will not mean they are valued or encouraged any less in their current role.
A huge plus – the cultural fit
In these times of limited mobility and social distancing, internal recruitment offers another key advantage – cultural fit. Since the company is already familiar with the candidates, this makes it easier to properly evaluate them and forgo a face-to-face interview. What’s more, the employer generally already has relevant information on the applicants’ skills, qualifications, motivation and potential.
The internal job market – crucial even after the crisis
Even disregarding the COVID-19 pandemic, internal recruitment is still an important tool for HR departments. On the one hand, this approach values employees, helps them achieve their full potential and offers them new, medium-term prospects. On the other hand, internal recruitment reduces the risk of companies losing good employees, either because they’ve been headhunted or have applied elsewhere themselves.
The current crisis is a good opportunity to take a closer look at the internal application and selection process. Where can it be simplified, streamlined or accelerated? Are there technical solutions that offer a more efficient or cost-effective alternative? And is the application experience also satisfactory for internal candidates?
Focusing on the company as a whole
Unfortunately, despite all the obvious advantages of internal recruitment, the process of transferring employees within the company is often blocked by the current manager, for fear that it will cause short-term disadvantages in their own department. It is important to help managers see the bigger picture in this regard. After all, it is crucial for the entire company, both in the medium and long term, to retain good employees.
Moreover, as has been said many times, this pandemic will eventually come to an end, meaning companies will be able to recruit external candidates again – and indeed do so much more effectively than before thanks to optimized processes and an improved candidate experience.