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April 7, 2020

Bob and Weave: Changes to Keep HR Effective During COVID-19

HR changes graphicTo say 2020 came in like a fire breathing dragon on a drunken bender is putting it mildly. But don’t let business complications stemming from COVID-19 knock you off your game. HR must move forward in their efforts to serve their company’s job applicants and employees well.

And this means accepting, even seeking out, change.

Now, we may not all be embracing change with open arms. Do we ever? Nevertheless, the HR professionals who broaden their vision and aren’t satisfied with the status quo will find ways they can continue their hiring process with little disruption.

Three main changes HR needs to make during the COVID-19 pandemic with relation to hiring are:

The Courts Are Closed…Now What?

The old way: When HR needed a criminal records check on a job applicant, they logged into their ATS or visited their background screening vendor’s platform and ordered it. Typical turnaround on the information was 2-7 days, depending on the geographical area and other factors. Many employers depend on criminal records to gain insight into job applicants’ fit with the position they are trying to fill.

Because of COVID-19, many courthouses across the country are closed or are strictly limiting the number of people that can enter. This makes it difficult for court reporters to access the information and return it to the background screening company, which then sends it to HR. Criminal records may be delayed many days or not accessed at all.

The new way: Automation is our friend in dealing with this situation. Fortunately, many jurisdictions have logged their criminal records online and these can be accessed even if the courthouse is closed. It’s important to work with a reputable background screening company that has tested these online sources for accuracy and quality.

Action plan! Ask your background screening provider if the criminal record information in the geographical areas you are hiring in can be accessed through automation.

We Don’t Want Our New Hires Coming in Our Building…How Can We Complete Our I-9?

The old way: I-9 forms were required to be completed within the first days of hiring an employee. For companies that use the pen-and-paper method of I-9 compliance, this meant every new hire had to show up in person to jump through this hoop.

The new way: Once again, automated processes careen to our rescue. First of all, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it was deferring the requirements for employers to review Form I-9 documents in-person with new employees. The change applies to employers and workplaces that are operating completely remotely. This means that employers won’t be required to review the employee's identity and employment authorization documents in the employee's physical presence.

In addition, some employers are opting for an automated system for collecting, storing, and purging their I-9 forms.

Action plan! Use the looser requirements to keep your hiring, and your workplace’s safety, on track, and consider using an automated I-9 solution to streamline your processes now and for the future.

Is There A Way to Get Applicant Authorization While We Both Work from Home?

The old way: The person in charge of the hiring process manually entered each applicant’s information and requested that they sign all the required consent and authorization forms. Even back in the “good ole days” this process could hold up progress and cause user errors (a transposed number, misspelled name, and other annoying mistakes). Applicants didn’t like it because it was inconvenient and rigid, often requiring them to come into the office. Hiring personnel didn’t like it because they were the ones entering all the candidate information and it was easy to leave something off or mis-type a piece of important data.

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The new way: Being able to use their smart device for aspects of the hiring and onboarding process increases an applicant’s satisfaction with the candidate experience. HR should look for digital applications that drive hiring effi­ciency, and assist in obtaining consent for background checks right through a job candidate’s smart device. For example, a candidate who can receive an electronic invitation via email or text and input their own data is a great, next-gen solution that decreases the instances of required, in-person interactions.

Action plan! Find and implement mobile-friendly ways for candidates to share information, receive communication, and seamlessly move the hiring process forward without going to the office and signing documents. (Enjoy the side benefit of less data entry for your team, and less chance of data entry errors).

Yes, there are issues in the world today bringing challenges many of us have never faced before, both personally and professionally. By embracing change and taking measures to adapt, we can continue to move forward toward success. These three changes are sure to make HR’s job, if not easier, hopefully a bit smoother, more efficient, and better prepared to deal with the new normal.

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