What the 'pingdemic' means for high volume recruitment

What the 'pingdemic' means for high volume recruitment

July 20, 2021
Industry News

After a difficult 18 months for recruitment, the so-called 'pingdemic' is the latest challenge for recruiters to battle with. What can you do about it to keep your recruitment moving?

It was recently reported that the NHS COVID-19 app had sent self isolation alerts to over 500,000 people in just one week - causing disruption across the economy. Huge portions of the UK workforce are being told to self-isolate, leading to some businesses and organisations having to pause their operations.

For recruiters, especially those working on high volumes, this is leading to uncertainty throughout the recruitment process.

What to expect

Here’s how recruitment is being impacted:

  • Candidates are more likely to drop out at any time - Be ready for candidates to drop out of recruitment processes at basically any stage. Especially for shorter term roles, temporary work, or anything where candidates currently have a lot of choice, a period of self-isolation could be enough for candidates to give up on their application.

  • Candidates asking for later start dates or changes to standard arrangements - Successful candidates may become unable to meet their agreed start dates if they get pinged before starting work. If you’re urgently recruiting to meet a post-pandemic staff shortage, this might mean that you can’t get people on the ground when they’re needed.

  • Cancelled interviews, onboarding, recruitment events and other in-person activities - If you’re running them, expect a large number of last-minute cancellations or no-shows for any in-person activities due to attendees self-isolating.

  • An increase in time to hire - All of these roadblocks means that the time it takes recruitment teams to get people on the ground is likely to increase, compared to both mid-pandemic and pre-pandemic.

So, what can you do about it? 

With the rules around the app not expected to change until 19th August (and then only for people who are double-jabbed), recruiters need to be prepared for more weeks of disruption to come.

Although it won't completely solve the problem, there are still actions recruiters can take to pivot their strategies to combat some of the issues.

  1. Temporarily increasing application targets for roles 

The recruiting conditions are different, so your targets need to adjust too. Increasing application targets should ensure you don't get stuck without enough qualified candidates along the process if some drop out along the way.

Some have predicted that this summer, a third of people will be in isolation at any one time. Estimates place the current proportion of self isolating individuals at around 20% of the workforce. In theory, this might mean you would need to increase your targets this summer by up to 30% to balance this out.

  1. Getting more applications, earlier in the process

To offset the possible increase in time to hire caused by other unavoidable delays in the process, it’s even more important to have a strong and rapid start to your advertising campaigns. By bringing in more of your applications earlier in a job’s advertising period, you’ll be able to move people through the process faster and get people deployed where they are needed.

  1. Keep as much online as possible

Continuing to run virtual interviewing, hiring events, staff training and onboarding helps to reduce the chances of spreading the pings (and of course the virus). 

Especially if you’d be conducting interviews in the same location as your workforce, keeping these events online will make sure that your candidates don’t cause problems for your existing workforce too.

  1. Be ready to respond to quick and significant changes in hiring volumes

A change in the government guidance in the future could lead to another shift in your hiring needs, so staying as flexible as possible will help.

This means being able to scale up or down your advertising (and therefore your spending), to respond to the numbers of candidates and applications you need.

We’ve compiled a guide on how to build more flexibility into your advertising - take a look here.

  1. Set clear expectations with both candidates and hiring managers

This really matters. There’s more unpredictability than before, and you need to make sure your stakeholders are all aware that this is causing bumps in the road. 

It might not be the easiest conversation to have, but it’s much better than setting unrealistic goals which you’re unable to meet.

Of course delays to recruiting have knock-on effects on other teams and operations too, so setting this expectation early gives people a chance to make their own contingency plans.

  1. Share proactive communications

Although navigating all of this can be a bit of a headache for everyone involved, there’s a hidden opportunity here for savvy recruitment teams to build a positive reputation with candidates and showcase their employer brand.

Clearly communicating your policies and proactively updating candidates on your organisation’s expectations will ensure they are well informed and better prepared.

Think about the questions candidates might have and provide answers before they even need to ask - Do they need to take a lateral flow test before attending an interview? Or before starting work? How frequently should they self-test? How should they communicate test results with you? When shouldn’t they come to work? Does any of this change if they have been vaccinated? How do they reschedule something? What happens if they can’t commit to the agreed start date? And much more….

However the next few months play out, it's not an option to do nothing. Especially for high volume recruitment areas.

By pivoting your strategy and closely monitoring changes, you can minimise the impact of the pingdemic on your own recruitment success.

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