Amy Polefrone: “There is no perfect candidate.”

Amy Polefrone HR Strategy Group

We interview Amy Polefrone, President at HR Strategy Group, that helps organizations solve their toughest human resource challenges by providing in-depth HR strategy, consulting and recruiting solutions.

There currently is not enough talent in the labor market. How can recruiters improve their processes to attract the best workers? 

You have to use technology. You have to use technology to receive resumes, screen them, and move candidates through the process faster. If you’re disorganized, if you make candidates wait too long, if you’re not communicating, you’ll lose good candidates to competitors. 

A common mistake I see is too much deliberation. People want to compare candidates against each other, but a lack of decisiveness is going to hurt you and your brand. There’s always someone better or more qualified. Clients should look for a strong utility player who can meet most of the requirements. There is no perfect candidate.

It’s also important to pay attention to how your job posting looks. That’s a marketing document. If you have a huge list of job responsibilities, potential hires will turn away. You have to prioritize that into a top 10 list or a day-in-the-life.

You have to use technology to receive resumes, screen them, and move candidates through the process faster.

How has COVID-19 impact the human resources market?

From a recruitment and talent acquisition perspective, companies are hiring people faster. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had some clients put searching on hold because they wanted to meet prospective employees in-person. But after a while, they realized they couldn’t. They had to have the courage to hire people virtually. The hires have even been as good or better than those hired in-person, perhaps because you no longer have the biases you create when meeting someone in real life. 

In HR, we became pandemic experts. We have to understand what a pandemic is and what kind of communications need to be drafted. How is it going to impact business? Are we going to have to lay people off or furlough them? How will we rehire them? 

HR departments have to respond very quickly to a crisis. You have to be prepared months in advance for the crisis. The big lesson is that HR has to be a part of every business operational discussion. When the risk managers of big companies are planning for crises ranging from weather events to workplace investigations, HR has to be there to do predictions on supply, employees, and what’s needed. The basics should all be in place, and HR needs to be a part of the business discussions. 

The hires have even been as good or better than those hired in-person, perhaps because you no longer have the biases you create when meeting someone in real life.”

When a crisis hits a company like the pandemic and they lose resources, how should their approach to compensation change?

For companies to literally stay in business, they did have to do layoffs and furloughs. They need to communicate as much in advance with employees as possible, letting them know what to expect. Having your basics of communication put in place. Let your employees know where they can go for financial advice. Provide financial counseling if you can afford it. Make sure people understand the government benefits they’re eligible for. 

Also in compensation now, there are bidding wars for employees. I think companies forget that employees have rights and expectations too, and if they can get more money somewhere else why wouldn’t they? 

How exactly have workplace investigations changed? What do those entail?

It was surprising that my company continued to do so many investigations. The investigations done through Zoom were as good or better because, compared to in-person, there is not as much pressure for bias. I am seeing a rise in escalated language around behaviors, with people using words such as “sabotage” and “bullying.” People are fragile right now and less willing to put up with toxic behaviors.

Organizations are unfortunately usually willing to put up with a toxic employee. But at what cost to the rest of the employees? When I first received training, I was told that, if you have a great performer but they’re a pain in the neck, suck it up and deal with them. 30 years later, I don’t agree. Hanging on too long to someone who engages in bad behaviors and harms the team is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

I love talking to business owners and helping them understand how HR problems impact the business. HR impacts operations, relationships with other organizations, and more. At the end of the day, it is people that drive the business. There is no business without people.

“Hanging on too long to someone who engages in bad behaviors and harms the team is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.”

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