May 4, 2021

Fully Remote Isn’t a Magic Bullet for Hiring


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Episode Highlights

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Going fully remote has it’s pros and cons. One big upside is the larger talent pool. Hire a bunch of niche skillsets? The whole world is your talent oyster.

But it’s still not as easy as it seems. Many companies struggle anyway. And a lot of the time it’s self-inflicted. Just because people can work from home doesn’t mean they want to work from home, for you.

Jeff Smith and James Hornick will sound off on the false confidence of WFH hiring on the next 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 18, “Fully Remote Isn’t a Magic Bullet for Hiring”

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, and maybe even pitch a solution to if we feel like it. This week’s topic: fully remote


isn’t a magic bullet for hiring. Jeff, why don’t you start us off here? What do you – what do we have to say about this? Yeah. We talked about the two sides of the coin, right? I think it’s a situation where we can talk candidate centric, we can also talk client centric. But the main thing for me right now is


stickiness and by stickiness I mean, you have to be able to manage and build and motivate a workforce. So there’s a ton of opportunity right now for the candidate market. If you’re hiring a bunch of remote folks and you aren’t ready to give them an opportunity to do great work, you’re basically going to waste a lot of time and money and training a resource that the best scenario they stick around for a couple of years


and then they bail. Worst scenario, you’ve trained them for the next opportunity that is set up to essentially kind of onboard that sort of resource. Yeah, I think everyone’s has got more opportunities in perpetuity now. People who were in smaller markets now have more to do so they have to be – the companies that they make sure they’re engaged.


I think the other side of this too is that companies used to be able to be really picky with remote work. So there’s a lot of companies that were early to the remote work game that when there were less people doing this before the pandemic they would have this elongated eight step process.


They would run people through the ringer because they can get the – because they were the only ones who could like recruit nationwide, kind of the world’s their oyster. They could get the best of the best. But the thing is it’s completely flipped now because now everyone’s able to do that.


And it’s the opposite kind of what you’re saying. It’s like, there’s this mentality, that mentality that there was always going to be better candidates out there. We could make this thing as grueling or as impossible as we wanted to, but that’s flipped. Now candidates know there’s always a better company out there.


Candidates always know there’s a better place they can be interviewing at out there. They’re just not putting up with like these crazy interview processes that companies are putting through. Yeah and it’s a good point. We’re seeing, there are a few select companies that we’ve worked with that have made the appropriate pivot that had historically offered remote or flexible remote schedules, work from home schedules, but by and large they’re still going through the eight step process and it’s requiring a ton of recruiters and a ton of bandwidth but it’s also costing a lot of money. Like I think you have to focus on recruiting like the right personas for your environment,


right? It comes back to like you got to target the right people. If you’re not targeting the right people and selling yourselves as an organization, you’re going to fall into the pitfall that I prefaced at the very beginning, i.e. somebody is just going to take your job for the money, the flexibility, you know, whatever their list might be.


And they’re just going to talk to the next 10 recruiters that pop into that slide into their DMS, right? Yeah. I think the next two to six months are going to be pretty interesting because we got this environment where everyone was fully remote. So there’s a difference between work from home and a difference between working remote, right?


It’s two completely different things. They got kind of meshed together during this whole pandemic. But work from home means you’re kind of close proximity to an office space, you might go in one or two days a week or something like that where it’s fully remote means you’re kind of all over the place.


And I think that we’re also finding out that companies didn’t have plans for what they’re going to do next, which is understandable. So people would interview with them and  wouldn’t be able to make a decision kind of either way. It didn’t really kind of sway on their decision, I guess I should say. So they’d go work for them, but we’re going to find out there’s some people actually want to be in the office a couple days a week.


Organizations may decide to stay fully remote or the opposite. They might realize, “I love this after trying out this fully remote thing. Yes. I took this job fairly recently doing it, but they want me to go back in the office. Like I don’t want to do that anymore.” And companies probably have in their heads “Well we set the expectation that it’s remote for the time being but we didn’t know we’re going in the future” but you know, like again, people have tons of options now.


And I think that there’s going to be kind of a rude awakening, I think kind of on both ends where there’s going to be a lack of alignment between relatively recent hires and even longer term hires and what companies ultimately decide to do. Yeah, we’re experiencing it. We were saying the other day we looked at our full zoom and I was like, “Oh my gosh, like 12 of these people – 12 doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s a substantial percentage of our workforce that has never seen our office.”


To your point, they’re going to be taking jobs where, when they were in their interview process the messaging was, I don’t really know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what our policy is going to be, and we’re just going to kind of roll with it. And they’re going to say things


maybe unconsciously that helped push that person into the door. But if you’re not aligned with what the candidate expectation is or asking them what was going on in their mind when you had that conversation, you’re not going to know what their preferences are and if you’re not getting out ahead of it right now, and I would suggest doing that right now, you’re going to have absolutely no pulse as to what’s going to actually happen when more people are fully vaccinated and when more people are more comfortable to come back into an office setting. Yeah. And I think that’s a good starting point too because I think you have to start with your current employees. Even knowing kind of what they’re thinking, like have you done, has your organization done –


have you surveyed people to find out what their preferences are? How many people want to be on site? How many people want to be remote? How many people want to you mix? Are you able to, can you please everyone? You know what I mean? That’s the other thing too, is you probably can’t. No matter what you do, you might be looking at some level of churn, you know what I mean?


Or some level of people who aren’t happy with kind of what the ultimate decisions are. We’re seeing companies only now starting to set expectations that are all over the map. Some organizations want to go fully back and just announce it. Some organizations are staying remote and I mean, it comes to us like we’re always the ones that find out people don’t like what their company ultimately decided to do.


 I guess we can even jump into fixes. So I would say kind of first thing, like right off the top, if you haven’t done a survey analysis of your current employees, now’s the time to do it? You’re probably late at this point but at least it’s better late than never.


 Like I said, you can’t please everyone but at least you can understand if there could potentially be some churn and get ahead of it, whether if there is anything you can do, if you’re down in the path of one direction in terms of like how much remote versus work from home you’re going towards and you realize that that’s actually out of whack with some of our employees, what they’re thinking, maybe there’s something you can do with them or maybe you need to start kind of making plans for potential replacement hiring now versus figuring that out the last minute.


 This is where HR leadership can flex their muscle a little bit. If you get the sense that there’s a perception in senior leadership that there needs to be a visceral swing either way, you’ve got to get out in front of it and get the survey of the people. You’ve got to know what everyone’s thinking and ensure that the policy that you come up with is as flexible as the whole idea of remote work in general. Because that’s the only way that you’re going to appease the largest portion of your employee populations. I think that’s, it’s a point that we touched on a lot but it bears mentioning that your current employees are the linchpin to all of this.


You need to figure out who you really are.  Remote, it’s not the selling point it once was. Everyone’s remote now. Everyone’s doing work from home. So what do you stand for? Who do you want to hire? You can’t take leaps of faith on people who are clearly not aligned just because they solve an immediate business need,


right? The other thing too is make sure training and management training and leadership types of like those sorts of learning development opportunities are totally available. Now’s the time to beef that stuff up so that you can hire from an entry level perspective as opposed to finding the one trick pony over and over and over again.


Yeah. And I think the last thing too is just like companies that have been fully remote and the party’s over. Your days of being able to say F*** it, anybody who  didn’t meet our impossibly high standard, we’re not going to bring them on board because we have all the candidates in the world because we have access to the full market


and no one else does because no one else is doing this. That’s the thing in the past.  You’re mortal now, your hiring plan it’s over. So I think it’s just kind of coming to terms with the fact that the entire paradigm has shifted and the remote market itself is far more saturated with companies doing it than there were before this.


So. Yeah, I mean window shopping might come back but it’s not coming back anytime soon. This is another year or so before we have any sort of semblance of a more than one week recruiting process. Yeah. All right. And once again, we are short on clock, so that’s a wrap for the week. Thanks again everyone for tuning into the 10 Minute Talent Rant, which will always be available for replay on the Hirewell YouTube channel, as well as the Talent Insights podcast on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify and YouTube. Jeff, thanks again, everyone out there. We’ll see you soon.


Episode 89
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