Marketing Your Company as Safe During COVID-19 Return to Work

As if recruiting isn’t challenging enough, now companies are faced with the realities of the post-COVID-19 world. Which means convincing talent they can provide a safe and healthy environment. For those companies that have return-to-work strategies in place, this should be a no-brainer.

But for others, the problem has been exacerbated by daily reports that highlight how some states are following the rules to reduce the number of infected. 


Recruitment in an uncertain world

Josh Bersin says this pandemic is “a big wakeup call that Employee Experience is now primary to every business in the world.”

This goes for candidates too. With all this uncertainty, it’s a given that they do not enjoy the prospect of rushing into an office for an interview, putting themselves and their family at risk of getting sick.

Added to this is the long wait to see if former employers may or may not call them back. Even the extra pandemic assistance unemployment insurance payments have been blamed for candidates not getting excited over job interviews.

Now, with the extra weekly payment gone, there should be better traction getting candidates interested in interviews. 

Interestingly, while cautious, candidates are willing to participate in interviews in both virtual and in-person formats, with some exceptions. A recent Zenefits study indicated: 

  • 77% of candidates reported having a positive virtual experience in virtual interviews.
  • 59% of candidates felt more comfortable meeting face-to-face to negotiate salaries.
  • 80% of candidates agree that face masks should be worn during in-person interviews.
  • One in three candidates said they would not attend an in-person interview until a COVID-19 vaccine is released.


Recruitment marketing’s role in making candidates feel safe.

Based on information from global talent management firm PageUp, the pace of recruitment is expected to ramp up as companies start to resume operations and fill new jobs. The competition will likely heat up, meaning now is the time to deploy, “automated recruitment marketing software to build high-quality pipelines of talent. Much more than your regular job ad: recruitment marketing allows you to engage with candidates at every stage of their application journey, using powerful targeted messaging to build and maintain a positive relationship.” 

At the same time, companies should be examining their employer value proposition (EVP). To ensure that it’s appealing to the candidates they will need while detailing the steps being taken to keep candidates/employees safe.

For example, retailers may not need on floor personnel as much as they need people who are experienced with managing online orders. This requires a whole set of different skills and therefore a different EVP should be deployed to attract candidates with the right skills.

The EVP can also give candidates a sneak peek at the hiring process, from screening to onboarding. 


Communicating safe recruitment policies to candidates.

It’s obvious that clear communication of safe recruitment policies is at the heart of what the EVP message should be. This can also go further in how the company brands itself including it’s social networking efforts.

Tony Restell, founder of Social-Hire told us, “I’d create a short video detailing the steps the company is taking to make interviewing safe and then 1) pin that to the top of their social media profiles and 2) retarget an advert sharing this video to anyone who’d visited the company’s careers pages. 


What elements belong in your candidate safety policy?

At the very least, it’s important to communicate to candidates that the company is taking the CDC required steps to maintain a clean workplace, practicing social distancing, and providing access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to all workers and candidates.

The company can also outline it’s recruitment steps, much of which will be handled remotely using virtual meeting technology and computer applications (for example, digital document signing). The company policy must also state any requirements if a candidate has tested positive for COVID-19, such as seeking health care and notifying the company. 


Taking shortcuts puts employers at risk.

Organizations can control things for their own candidate hiring and safety policy, but what about sending candidates to agencies like drug testing centers, government offices, and healthcare centers for pre-employment testing?

Should companies be tempted to skip these things to keep candidates safe? Alonzo Martinez, Associate Counsel of Compliance for HireRight, said in a Forbes article, “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may be considering revising their screening programs to accelerate time to hire. But doing so comes with risk, not only of negligent hiring or negligent retention but of justifying the validity of criminal checks in the future.” 


What can recruitment teams do to help make their candidates feel safe?

To start formulating a plan, it’s important to understand the psychological state of individuals. According to Dr. Timothy R. Clark, founder and CEO of global leadership training firm LeaderFactor, Oxford-trained social scientist and author of “The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety”, he is considered to be a renowned authority on organizational change management.

Clark told us, “We all realize that the pandemic has upended the status quo. The net effect of this is that we are entering into the ‘no gimmicks’ era.” 

One thing you should be evaluating as an employer is if you are conveying with the authenticity that your workplace can provide candidates with a sense of security and safety? Clark advises,” Attracting and retaining talented employees depend more than ever on an organization’s ability to deliver on the fundamentals. And what are the fundamentals? A safe, inclusive, respectful work environment. That’s the foundation and no other benefits or perks can compensate for what you may lack here.” 


What candidates want:

Dr. Clark told us, “People want transparency, empathy, and meaningful work. They want a culturally flat organization in which they can be acknowledged, heard, and understood regardless of demographics, title, position, or authority. The time to toss out the junk theories of superiority that we so often use to govern our organizations has finally come!”

Employers can do their part to attract candidates by conveying these values in their recruitment marketing strategies. 

Dave Rietsema

Dave Rietsema is the founder/CEO of HR Payroll Systems, a company that helps HR professionals find the right HR and payroll software. Prior to starting the company, Dave worked in HR for several years during which time he came up with the idea for his company.