Since the first stay-at-home orders were issued in March, the hiring landscape has changed dramatically. We’ve gone from a labor market of record-breaking tightness to a world of record-breaking unemployment in what feels like the blink of an eye. Anxiety is running high among job seekers, business owners and enterprises alike

Much remains uncertain; but as the states reopen their economies and we begin to rebuild the world of work, there can be no doubt that this is a critical moment. As we take our first steps forward, we wanted to hear from human resources (HR) and talent acquisition (TA) professionals to get their take on the crisis: How has it impacted them? What are they worried about? Has anything actually changed “forever,” or is that just hype? What can we learn from this experience so we can rebuild better than what we had before?

With these and other questions in mind, we polled a group of HR and TA professionals to take their pulse, learn what they’re feeling in this moment and see the crisis through their eyes.* Read on to learn about their hopes, fears and learnings.

Nearly two-thirds of HR and TA professionals polled report feeling “substantial” or “major” impact from COVID

First, we wanted to know about the scale and scope of COVID’s impact on businesses, which has — of course — been significant. In fact, of those polled, only one in ten said their business was operating as usual. More than half have reduced staff or hours. And, nearly a third have transitioned their employees to work from home. Needless to say, this marks a huge change for employers.

Meanwhile, in regard to the scale of impact COVID-19 has had on their business, almost two-thirds of those polled said they have felt a substantial or major impact. Nearly half have made noticeable changes to the way they operate, while about one in five have made changes they expect to be long-lasting. 

More than a third of businesses polled are hiring as much or more than before

When it comes to hiring, we’ve seen an interesting mix of responses. More than a third of our respondents are hiring as usual or have even increased their hiring. Almost half said that hiring varies depending on the role and area of the business. Less than a quarter said they’ve stopped hiring altogether or that they’ve had to lay people off. 

The top hiring challenges among HR and TA professionals.

As for specific hiring difficulties, the most common challenge cited by HR and TA professionals was conducting the hiring process remotely, followed by addressing the health risks and concerns for incoming employees. One respondent told us, “The biggest challenge is keeping employees informed as things change rapidly. Those who are hiring need to be sure that those that are coming in for interviews are comfortable that they are walking into a safe environment.”

Other major concerns include finding qualified people to fill open jobs, and having to consider if job applicants would be willing to stay on the job after the pandemic crisis has quieted.

Many companies are also having to change their plans due to COVID-19 — almost a third of the professionals polled said their business has changed the start dates for new hires. Another concern was managing their employer brand and company reputation as hiring plans change.

HR and TA professionals are more concerned about employees than about losing their own job

When we asked about the biggest concerns, HR and TA professionals were actually more concerned about their employees than about losing their own job. Those we polled put employee safety above all else — their top concern was adjusting working procedures to accommodate the safety of employees at the company. Maintaining their own mental health and well-being came in second, as people continue to struggle with work/life balance, stress and social isolation. 

Biggest current concerns surrounding HR and TA professionals' jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though well-being is a top priority, less than a third of those polled said they’re getting support they need from leadership to be successful at their job. And even fewer said they had access to industry-specific content to help them do their job. 

Of those who wanted support to help them succeed at work, the most common resource desired was eLearning programs followed by industry-specific informational content.

Co-isolators, children and overwork are the biggest challenges for those working from home

Despite all the hype in the media about work from home being “the new normal,” many of our respondents still report facing challenges with the arrangement. Of these challenges, the most common  was having to share space with children, partners or others that can bring distractions. 

In addition to the stressors of sharing a home workspace, the next most common challenge of working from home was working longer hours than they would if they went into the office. Though some workers may be enjoying the flexibility that comes with working from home, it seems that many are having a harder time setting boundaries and stopping at the end of a typical workday.

Meanwhile, as employers consider reopening offices in some locations, childcare is an important factor to consider. Even if daycare centers and schools do re-open, some parents may be uncomfortable letting their children out of the home without a vaccine. 

Predictions from employers: less bias, more virtual interviews, different office layouts

We also wanted to know about the impact of COVID-19 as we rebuild in the short- and long-term. The most common prediction among those polled was that virtual interviewing and hiring will increase. One respondent said, “I think all my clients are going to switch to a permanent virtual recruiting process for the duration of the pandemic.”

Top predictions on the future of companies post-COVID-19 by HR and TA professionals.

The next most common prediction was that companies will create or revise work from home policies and consider an office floor plan that discourages physical contact between employees. (In fact, the days of the open office as we have known it may be numbered; many companies are already considering how to make their open floor plans safer for employees during a pandemic.)

Strikingly, we also found optimism among a majority of our respondents that virtual hiring and work from home technologies will have a positive impact on the hiring process. More of those polled were optimistic that it would lead to more inclusive hiring than were pessimistic that it would increase bias toward vulnerable populations.

However, as to whether or not they have the resources they need to prepare for business changes due to COVID-19, more than half of those polled said they could use help. As one respondent put it, “I expect we will have more applications than ever, but we will struggle to interview all the qualified candidates who apply.”

Looking toward the future 

There is no doubt that challenges lie ahead and that rebuilding work post-COVID will not be easy; meanwhile, recent events have underscored the need for broader societal change. The world of work has changed, but together, we have an opportunity to rebuild it even better than before. 

And the good news is that there is hope among some of our employers that we may emerge on the other side in a better place. As one respondent puts it: “ How can [we] take better care of our employees when they are with us for most of their days? I hope companies will be open to making changes to doing things a different way.”

Meanwhile, we are here to help. On Lead with Indeed, we’ll do everything we can to support employers in new and challenging circumstances, keep you informed and empower you to make decisions about hiring and your business.