Covid-19 and the fight for talent

By Nicole Karragianis   | 
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Leading an organisation through a pandemic has been nothing short of challenging. From supporting employees to work remotely and making every effort to stay connected, to safeguarding its revenue and business pipeline, leaders have had their hands full, and in the meantime, the war on talent has been becoming worse.

Australian borders closed, restricting access to international talent and with the increased demand for specific skills such as roles in technology, talent teams find themselves faced with some of the toughest challenges the industry has faced in a decade.

Before the pandemic, not all employee experiences were created equal. We have seen a definite shift in this over the past 18 months. Flexibility in working hours and location was once an attraction tool for some, is no longer a point of difference. Budgets and networks influencing international talent recruitment no longer matter as the restrictions on travel do not discriminate between those who can afford it and those who cannot. How do you compete for talent when your resources have diminished, and your point of difference has now become the norm?

You go back to the basics and reflect:

  • Are my recruitment and onboarding practices as good as they can be?
  • How am I treating my employees?

Recruitment and Onboarding

We all pride ourselves on measuring automation, speed and efficiency during the recruitment process. But what about tracking connection, empathy and respect? We are in contact with passive and active candidates, all of whom are facing uncertainty and big decisions for themselves and their families. We strive to stay in touch and to keep our candidates informed along the way, to alleviate any further uncertainty or negative experience during the process, creating a relationship regardless of the outcome.

I recently contacted a candidate who declined our offer. Asking if we could have done anything differently, his response was: “it has been a really tough decision…. I appreciate the support and understanding I have received from your team and wish you all the best.”

At we work together across various business functions including the hiring leader and our Helpdesk Engineer to deliver a great onboarding experience. An employee who joined us recently wrote this to her People Leader: “It is probably the most seamless “first week” that I have had”.

Aligned to our operating principles and core values, we continue to improve our recruitment and onboarding processes to ensure our employee experience is consistently positive yet unique to each person.

How am I treating my employees?

Sometimes organisations are working too fast to stop and reflect, or we are too afraid of what the answer might be. Here, we enjoy an open and honest culture; our people tell us when something is going well or they’ve hit a stumbling block. This pandemic is presenting short-term challenges that might go unseen, so the key is to keep one eye on the present and another on the future. We often place important initiatives on hold because we think that now is not a good time. This is never a good idea and organisations stand to suffer in the long term.

Be brave: start small, launch that survey, hold that meeting, ask the difficult questions, and above all else, do it together but be prepared to listen.

For example, we recently established two very important communities at to keep us moving forward:

  • the “Culture Champions” community, and
  • our “Safety Committee”

With their dedication and commitment, we can honestly say that we all have an opportunity to own the employee experience. In the past two months, we designed and consulted on both our post-engagement survey action plan and our wellbeing program and are on track to implement some amazing initiatives that will make a true impact.

We didn’t wait until we had time to regroup post-COVID as we knew the importance of these initiatives to our employees, particularly due to the ongoing impact of the global pandemic. These initiatives are an example of how we created more channels for staff to actively contribute to the company’s future, giving everyone a voice in a way they feel comfortable and confident to participate.

Nicole Karagiannis, Chief People & Culture Officer