The past five years have felt like whiplash to frontline recruiting professionals. Whether it was the hiring freezes that happened at the beginning of the unforeseen global pandemic, the boom of the toilet paper industry soon after (if you were recruiting for those manufacturers, we hope you got a big bonus), or the labor shortage on the tail of the Great Resignation, or Great Attrition, or Great Reshuffle, and now, the mass layoffs in tech and by large corporations, it’s fair to say that the road TA and recruiting folks have been bumpy.
Today, “recession” has been embedded in every LinkedIn update and every news headline since the December page of the calendar fluttered to the ground.
For people with other titles or distinctions, it might be fear-inducing, but for you, talent acquisition aficionado, and recruiting extraordinaire, it’s just another bump—albeit a rather large one–that you will overcome.
As pragmatic planners, the question is, how? How will you overcome yet another challenge with as much #gritandgrace as you can muster?
For frontline recruiters, a recession may impact the volume at which you are recruiting if the number of positions per location is lessened, but the high turnover rate of frontline industries and expected attrition will necessitate recruitment efforts to continue.
So, while there may be fewer open recs, a high-volume recruiter’s role is never truly done–regardless of what the broader economy is doing.
Keep in mind that even at the height of the pandemic, Amazon was recruiting 1,400 new employees a day.
Whatever “rule” exists for the knowledge worker market during a recession, it does not remain true for all frontline worker organizations.
In times when panic seems like the most obvious response, it’s important for HR teams to focus on what they can control. Rather than fixating on or ignoring a potential recession, we recommend preparing.
Many businesses are starting their own version of battening their hatches through layoffs or hiring freezes. Neither of these is ideal for professionals in the recruitment world. (And, in truth, they aren’t always ideal for the businesses that initiate them, but that’s another topic altogether.)
Still, professionals in the recruitment space are too familiar with the economic roller coaster to be caught without a plan in the face of yet another big drop.
In the name of preparation over panic, we believe that recruiting and TA teams consider how they can utilize recruitment technology to:
Let’s dive into each.
A recent survey by Workvivo showed that 97% of HR professionals had felt emotional fatigue in the past year, with 98% saying they have felt burned out within the past six months. However, it doesn’t take a study to explain why these pros are at the end of their matchsticks. Recruiters and TA professionals are tired, and rightfully so.
Recruiters are busier than they have been in decades, but do they have the equivalent support in resources? It depends, but some recruiters spend more time on to-dos that “must be done by someone” than strategic projects that only they can do. For example, recruiters can spend over half their time chasing down applicants for an intro call, screening resumes, and scheduling interviews. Leaving very little time for proactive talent acquisition, brand building, and retention activities.
Recruiter and TA professionals’ skills often go underutilized because of the sheer number of time-consuming duties on their plates. As we all know, when an individual is constantly overworked on projects that aren’t rewarding or challenging, they can easily lose their drive.
The challenging state that recruiters find themselves in would be a struggle even without a significant economic shift.
So, why should HR leaders be focusing on alleviating burnout?
Well, in organizations that opt to “stop the bleed” by laying off workers or freezing hiring, they may also choose to remove resources from the recruiting and TA teams. This would lead to these teams having even fewer “plates” for these tasks to fall on. The already thinly stretched team members will be pulled even tighter across a larger gap of responsibilities. And these few essential individuals may be pushed to the point of resignation either mentally or formally.
While these roles may not seem like the most essential in a time of expense reduction, the price of bringing new recruiting teams, rebuilding the employee brand, and refueling a dry candidate pool may be even more costly.
This isn’t meant to be a horror story, it’s meant to be a wake-up call for organizations to invest in their people in order to retain them beyond a recession.
Recruitment automation platforms streamline low-value, manual tasks that often contribute to burnout. With the support of this technology, organizations can dramatically reduce the length of their hiring process, leading to improved new hire quality and a reduction of overall employee turnover.
As mentioned, regardless of when a recession hits the market, there will be industries that need to maintain or even expand their workforce. For example, discount goods providers, like Dollar Tree and Ross, performed well during the 2008 recession.
The pandemic added pressure to an already tense working market in frontline fields.
Organizations have been pushed to evolve, but some have been more resistant than others. The average time-to-hire is 34 days, but the best candidates are off the market in just 10 days. And candidate's negative experiences may take them out of the candidate pool altogether, as 83% of talent says a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked.
High-volume hiring teams know that even if the number of open recs decreases, there will continue to be a need for recruiting in their industries due to the turnover alone.
For frontline work, in particular, creating great candidate experiences is less about flash and more about functionality. It’s important to understand what candidates truly want (which we discuss in detail in our Guide to What Frontline Candidates Want).
But, high-level, great frontline candidate experiences are:
While knowledge workers have advanced, dependable channels for job seekers like LinkedIn and Indeed, frontline workers have to piece-meal their candidate journey together with clunky forms and outdated processes. Recruitment automation should meet all candidates where they are, but few do.
Emi is a recruitment automation platform focused on improving frontline workers’ access to opportunities. Here at Emi, we have focused on developing a solution that is truly tailored to the hourly worker experience.
It’s understandable to think that a recession means that tech budgets will be eliminated. While some businesses may take that approach, most (80%, according to Gartner’s 2023 study) are planning to increase their technology spend.
As Alexander Bant, chief of research in the Gartner Finance practice, said, “CFOs know that two things will make or break their ability to drive growth and profits during, and after, the 2023 recession: their investment in technology and people.”
While CFOs are choosing technology over stagnance, each department will need to show the real value that their desired new tool or platform can provide. We believe that the tech that receives the green light will be those that: 1) play well with others (existing tech, that is) 2) improves organizational efficiency 3) reflects the KPIs to show true ROI.
When considering new technologies, your teams will want to ensure that the tech can either replace or integrate with existing systems.
If separate individuals or tools are handling the repetitive elements of the hiring process, including screening, interview scheduling, candidate communication, or background checks, there is a loss of time and effectiveness for both staff and the tech itself.
Organizations should also do their research on how much support they are given by the tech partner during the integration process. Unfortunately, there are many situations where the adoption of a solution goes awry right at the beginning when attempting to connect existing and new systems.
So, make sure that the recruitment automation platform has the capability to connect with the existing tech stack as well as come with the support to do so successfully.
For teams looking to streamline their hiring process, recruitment automation provides a solution that can cover the entire candidate experience. Recruitment automation systems like Emi are meant to enhance the recruiter and talent acquisition role rather than replace it. By automating various steps in the hiring process, recruiters are able to focus on the parts of their job that they truly enjoy–connecting with candidates, matching the right opportunities with the right people, growing their employer brand, and showcasing the value of their efforts.
Investing in solutions that support the recruiting team has trickledown benefits for the candidates, who have a direct impact on the organization’s ability to generate revenue. Talent acquisition managers and recruiters with high job satisfaction rates deliver better candidate experiences and hire more best-fit candidates, who are more likely to stay at the company long-term.
Rather than slashing the recruitment department headcount or budget, forward-thinking organizations are choosing to strategically invest in technology that will outlast economic changes. A recruitment automation platform will empower high-volume hiring teams to scale their operations with limited resources without sacrificing the candidate experience in the process.
While the prospect of a recession is intimidating to most, recruiters and TA managers know that a vision for the future and a plan for challenges will take them much farther than unproductive panic. These pros are well-versed in having slime-like levels of flexibility and will need to dig down into these skills to fix their eyes beyond the immediate challenges.
In the end, the key to recession-proofing your TA and recruiting teams is to remain agile, adaptable, and strategic. By adopting a proactive mindset and committing to supporting its HR department, businesses can build resilient and adaptable teams that are capable of weathering turbulence and emerging stronger on the other side.
If you want to explore how Emi, the frontline recruitment automation platform, can help your hiring team ready itself for a recession, contact us here. Emi optimizes the hiring process end-to-end. We can help you make quality hires faster using sophisticated automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence.
Request a demo to learn how you can drive better high-volume frontline recruitment results with Emi.
Images sourced from giphy.com.