7 best practices for managing planned and unplanned exponential hiring

By | 4 minute read | July 24, 2020

During the current global pandemic, many businesses were forced to temporarily limit or shut down their services, while others quickly shifted into a mode of rapid hiring. These businesses—primarily in retail, logistics, healthcare, public sector, delivery and grocery—hurried to hire new talent or to facilitate the return of former employees.

Through work with countless organizations who are navigating both planned and unplanned growth periods of hiring, the below guidance serves to share best practices and lessons that can be used as we can continue to charter these unique and uncertain times.

Planned accelerated hiring

Working with a leading healthcare company on the verge of exponential growth exposed many learnings and lessons for necessary planning. The organization needed a more efficient approach to sourcing, screening and hiring for the 16,000 to 20,000 new employees it adds each year. Historically, the organization had hired two groups of candidates: class-based (high volume) or professional. The most significant variable between these two groups was the amount of effort required for each.

By addressing its problems and finding a new way to segment job requisitions based on analytics, market conditions, labor supply and more, the company reconfigured how to assign requisitions with processes more tailored for that top of role and the candidates attracted to it. After this new segmentation approach was implemented, satisfaction among hiring managers increased by 40%.

This healthcare company executed on several best practices for managing exponential hiring:

  • Address high degrees of variability. External and internal variables affect the degree of difficulty in filling requisitions, which can drive up the time and costs associated with talent acquisition. Accounting for and minimizing these variables helps bring more predictable outcomes to filling requisitions.
  • Unify digital processes. Integrate every piece of your recruitment technology with each other and with your business process platform. Then, empower recruiting team members with analytics and automation in their processes. This helps them deliver personalized, on-time candidate experiences.
  • Use historical and real-time data. Enterprises possess a wealth of data. Use it. Your historical and real-time data, accessed through integrated technology, helps everyone in talent acquisition to make informed decisions.
  • Provide flexibility. The information gleaned from your data provides another benefit. It enables talent acquisition leaders, hiring managers and recruiters to shift priorities, resources and responsibilities as needed. Quick pivots can be the key to success when hiring in a highly competitive job market.

Unplanned accelerated hiring

As the pandemic unfolded, home improvement retail chain Lowe’s announced it would hire 30,000 new employees, including full-time, part-time and seasonal. PepsiCo, one of the largest packaged food companies in the world, hired 6,000 new, full-time employees, half of them for its brand Frito-Lay. CVS Health added 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary workers as store associates, home delivery drivers and distribution center employees. And Instacart, the home grocery delivery service, hired 300,000 full-service shoppers and said it planned to hire 250,000 more over two months.

Public health organizations also expanded their payrolls through the addition of COVID-19 contact tracers. The State of California, for example, planned for a 20,000-member contact tracing team, and New York announced it would hire 17,000 contact tracers.

Each organization found itself in unprecedented territory because of the pandemic. Now, as businesses begin to reopen and rehire, organizations may find themselves in a similar situation. If so, these additional issues to managing exponential hiring in a condensed time frame should be considered.

  • Invest in digital technology. Can your technology support rapid hiring? If demand for your products and services soars, then your issue is how to hire rapidly at scale. Recruitment teams will have to manage a backlog of applicants and a high level of sourcing and screening activities. While you need to ensure that your teams and processes are set up to succeed, your priority is to invest in digital technology. For instance, are your recruiters and hiring managers equipped to conduct video screens and interviews? Whether you choose a live or on-demand approach, video or voice only, digital interviews help you act fast on talent while keeping the candidate experience pleasant and personal.
  • Rely on your talent community. Do you need to re-engage with former employees? Perhaps your issue isn’t ramping up to meet extra demand but bringing back your workforce to return to business as (mostly) usual. Former and furloughed employees already know your business, so you won’t have to invest time in training. Now’s the time to tap into your talent community—or, if you don’t have one, make it a priority to create one. A talent community is a highly effective, low-cost way to stay connected and re-engage with furloughed and former employees (as well as “silver medalist” candidates who’ve shown an interest in working for your organization). Filling positions through the known talent in your talent community means your hiring managers can spend less time interviewing candidates and more time on critical work.
  • Simplify the process. What if you have budget constraints? Understandably, your business may have cash flow challenges or restrictions on hiring budgets. If so, simplify the process. Take advantage of remote, same-day screening and assessments, and fast-track preferred former employees. You’ll create a pipeline of ready-to-interview new talent and ready-to-offer former employees, and you’ll be prepared for the next time a need for accelerated hiring occurs.