Thanks to the economic and public-health uncertainty that has plagued us for the past two years, many companies have held their expansion plans in check.
They’ve tentatively hired critical employees only where necessary and eagerly awaited the return to the office. However, that return has been a long time coming and, with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases because of the Delta variant, some employees may never return — becoming fully remote or moving to other opportunities.
But what if there were so much customer demand that instead of waiting for the pandemic to subside, a business had to grow quickly? With rapid growth comes the possibility of failure from depleted cash reserves, unfulfilled customer promises or an overworked customer services team. It’s an opportunity to put business theories and leadership to the test as external pressures force them to adapt and make operational decisions that may influence long-term viability. It also increases your company profile as a target for ransomware, which will require you to adopt more comprehensive security policies.
In this article, I discuss seven steps businesses should consider adopting while trying to scale and become more productive during Covid-19, which I’ve learned by observing the talent acquisition team at Zscaler grow the company from 1,500 to more than 3,000 employees in just one year, from spring 2020 to spring 2021. These steps will be most helpful to any organization onboarding a remote workforce or right-sizing their teams to meet customer demand.
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- Blend experience with strong onboarding operations.
- Recruit on a rolling basis.
- Invest in training.
- Look for high-energy candidates.
- Build a strong pipeline.
- Seek talent from different backgrounds.
- Hire everywhere.
1. Blend Candidate and Employee Experience With Strong Onboarding Operations
A new hire’s first impression sets the stage for their level of engagement and positivity — two important traits for a productive worker who can self-motivate while remote. You want employees to immediately feel part of the team, even if their first day is at home and they’ve never met anyone in person.
Ensure that new hires have a touchpoint with their managers the week before they start, which will help bridge the new-employee gap and foster a sense of belonging. Send your new hires some “pre-work” to prepare them to jump in with two feet first. Also, be proactive about IT operations to ensure new hires get their computers on time. Make sure they are able to log in and set up their computer the day before they start work, so everything is ready to go on day one. Provide pre-scheduled orientation meetings the first week so people are immediately busy and immersed.
2. Recruit With Rolling Thunder
Many companies keep excitement going until someone signs an offer letter but then go silent until someone’s first day. But it can be lonely at home! So keep energy building throughout the recruiting and onboarding process.
From the moment an employee hears about a company up through 30 days after joining, the company should have continuous touch points to keep the butterflies and excitement alive. Even having your recruiter or HR lead schedule a 60-day check-in can help employees feel cared for.
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3. Invest in Intensive, Remote Training
Recognize the knowledge and capabilities of your best employees to create employee centers of excellence that can develop online video and slide content for new hires. This will foster business camaraderie and bring everyone up to speed on best practices and internal knowledge that can help new employees hit the ground running.
This type of training can also help teach new skills to existing employees and ensure that everyone feels supported during rollout of new tools or policies.
4. Look for High Energy as a Trait in Prospective Hires
Working from home requires a different type of energy to keep oneself and one’s teammates motivated. People who are intrinsically inspired to achieve the mission and have unfailing energy can contribute more at a fast-growing company, even when remote.
5. Build a Strong In-House Recruitment Team
This may seem obvious, but many companies don’t take the time to do it. If you want to scale fast, you need the manpower to support workforce expansion.
Invest in energetic, highly skilled recruitment experts around the globe — a lot of them. Ensure that these employees are intimately connected to your organization’s business performance; this will help them to attract prospects who are the best fit.
6. Seek Talent With Non-Traditional Backgrounds
When you recruit for diversity at all levels, you automatically open yourself up to a greater talent pool. For example, if you limit your hiring to people with only bachelor’s degrees, then you miss out on talented people who started their career in a non-standard way.
Similarly, if you limit hiring to “experienced” candidates as measured only by number of years in the field, you may miss out on younger folks who have high energy and incredible ability to learn. Great talent can even occur outside your core industry, so take the blinders off and be willing to look at critical skill sets from different experiences.
7. Hire Everywhere
When you permit yourself to hire in all geographies, you open yourself up to a wider talent pool. This goes hand-in-hand with ensuring that your employees are set up with the technology (like zero-trust access) they need to succeed — meaning that you can guarantee a safe connection and productivity anywhere at any time.
Of course, scaling remotely doesn’t stop at hiring and onboarding. It’s part of a continuous effort to enable your talent to succeed. Whether you’re supporting new employees or making sure that your existing workers have the tools they need to succeed, be sure to design professional development programs that enable engagement across all of your workforce communities. This way, everyone can learn and grow together. Invest in well-equipped recruiting teams that understand the business and ensure that employees at all levels are on the same page about growth.
Once everyone is focused on reaching the same goals, new onboarding and training initiatives will help set the company on the right path — providing the talent and support needed to scale during a high-growth cycle.
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