4 best practices for COVID-era hiring

best practices covid

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Even though COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing, experts caution that it will still be several months before returning to business as usual. With the push to move many jobs online, some positions may remain remote after the threat of the pandemic has passed. In either situation, your team will benefit from these best practices for COVID-era hiring, sourced from Work for Good contributors ThinkHR and The Management Center.

Be upfront about your response to COVID. Each business has responded to COVID in a unique way, whether that’s an all-remote-office policy, in-office social distancing rules, specific cleaning regimens, or other requirements. When screening potential candidates, it’s important to be clear about expectations from the beginning. This includes everything from clearly stating how much work will be remote to explaining your policies on masks and vaccines (see below).

That also encompasses your job description: Be sure that your job posting acknowledges any tasks that have been added or removed during the pandemic. If work expectations for a new employee or contractor will change in the future, go ahead and provide some idea of what those changes will be.

Carefully plan your vaccine policy. This will require foresight and focus, keeping in mind that, per federal law, no business can require employees to get vaccinated.

According to ThinkHR Senior Legal Analyst Kara Govro, businesses that wish for in-person employees to be vaccinated can incentivize them by offering money, time off, merchandise, or other rewards for a certificate of vaccination. Govro cautions, however, that incentives should be mindful of, and accessible to, all employees. If you have employees who cannot receive the vaccine, then consider offering a team-based incentive that rewards an entire group once a baseline level of immunity is reached.

If you choose to incentivize vaccination, be sure that your organization can follow through with the promised rewards. Also, be clear about how vaccination will, and will not, affect social distancing and mask requirements.

People who have been vaccinated can still catch and spread COVID. Likewise, some employees, contractors, and customers will decline vaccination for medical, religious, and philosophical reasons. “Until we reach herd immunity or the virus mutates to be significantly less dangerous, masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene will remain essential,” Govro writes. (Herd immunity in the U.S. will likely require 80 to 90 percent of the population to become immune, either through vaccination or infection.)

Use a rubric for tracking must-have qualities. In order to keep the hiring process fair and balanced, The Management Center recommends identifying a few essential qualities you’re seeking in your candidates and ranking them with a common rubric for all members of the hiring team.

Essential qualities should of course include professional skills directly related to the job at hand, but also those vital to working in the era of COVID. These may include proven time management skills, the ability to attend virtual meetings, and general adaptability.

Ranking these skills using a rubric can help you avoid making biased hiring decisions. Ideally, assemble a hiring team so that each member can complete the same rubric and gather to discuss the results prior to making a job offer.

See this helpful rubric starter kit, free to download from The Management Center.

Plan ahead and be flexible. During the COVID-era, everyone appreciates a little grace. If you’re conducting video interviews, don’t assume that your candidates are already familiar with how the technology works. Help them out by sending a guide and some potential interview questions ahead of time.

Likewise, letting candidates know that you will be flexible regarding potential interruptions goes a long way toward establishing rapport and ensuring that the best qualified COVID-era candidates have the opportunity to succeed.

Kelli Karanovich is an editor at Work for Good, as well as a professional copywriter and educator who also publishes as Kelli Lynn Grey.

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