During the pandemic, small businesses have had to rethink how they build and foster teams in the remote work landscape. As company owners have shifted to virtual interviews, video check-in meetings and new practices to keep employees healthy and safe, there has been no shortage of new challenges.

These topics and more were discussed at the latest CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding event. Event host Jeanette Mulvey, content director at CO—, led the discussion, which featured advice about finding cultural fits, recruiting in this new era and being mindful of diversity. Panelists included Amy Freshman, senior director of global HR at ADP; Larry Kidd, owner and founder of :Hire; Rachel Krupa, founder of Krupa Consulting; and Elena Ledoux, CEO of Superb Maids.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the conversation.

Companies need to focus on resiliency and flexibility

Freshman notes that the ADP Research Institute predicted several 2021 workforce trends that will be important moving forward. Two trends stood out in the conversation. The first is for companies to “focus on resilience and safety.”

“Believe it or not, over the last 12 months, most employees have become more resilient, even though many have gone through difficult times and continue to,” Freshman said. “There's a keen focus on health, wellness and a safe environment for employees to work [in], whether they're visiting an office and going back or even those working from home.”

The second trend that stood out from ADP’s list is that companies should “fuel for flexibility.”

“First and foremost, it's about building relationships,” Freshman said. “So those one-on-one conversations and the ability for managers to really check in with their associates and with their employees has been critical. Empathy is a big one. Everyone's living a different place and a different life. Many are dealing with childcare issues, elder care issues, health issues and just concerns all around. So, business owners out there, empathy goes a long way.”

Culture fit is often more important than anything else

Ledoux notes that at her company, culture and attitude often matter more than anything else in the hiring process. She said that thousands of people apply to work at her company, but prospective employees need to work well with others even if they don’t have professional cleaning skills.

“That's probably the number one factor that we take into consideration when we're hiring,” Ledoux said. “I always say it's easier for me to teach somebody how to clean a toilet, as opposed to teaching somebody with a bad attitude. Even if they're amazing at cleaning, it's really hard to change that attitude. Sometimes when I witness a candidate, or even an existing employee, showing certain behavior, I ask myself, ‘Is this the kind of stuff that their mom should have taught them or me?’”

You have to diversify, and you have to do the work to know how to hire and recruit from a diverse background.

Rachel Krupa, founder, Krupa Consulting

Remote work enables expanded recruitment opportunities

Kidd, whose company helps recruit and vet candidates worldwide, said that the remote work era during the pandemic had made recruitment much more accessible because so many companies were willing to hire remotely now.

“Employers in Ohio never had the opportunity to think about hiring an employee in California but can now do so very effectively,” Kidd said. “It's completely changed the world we live in. But the pool has gotten much bigger. Pre-COVID, it was difficult to get quality people, and it’s truly an employer’s market right now. … We also get the benefit of longer hours, where East Coast companies can take advantage of recruiting on the West Coast too. So I got an extra three hours for recruiting.”

Diversity and inclusion top of mind in hiring

Krupa, who runs a PR agency, suggested that her company, like many others, has begun taking a harder look at recruiting diverse candidates and will continue to incorporate inclusivity into the hiring process.

“Early on during the pandemic and then during BLM, I brought in a lot of different individuals to help me learn, but then also did the work myself,” Krupa said. “For us, we realized we needed more diversity in our team. [We started looking at new job boards like] ColorComm, which was a great place to list our job. … You have to diversify, and you have to do the work to know how to hire and recruit from a diverse background. But it's not going to be easy. It shouldn't be easy.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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