Will virtual recruiting and onboarding hurt seasonal hiring?
The practice of virtually hiring and onboarding seasonal help has been on the rise in recent years as online technology advances, but this holiday season, due to COVID-19, it has become the primary option for many retailers.
Gap, for the first time, is allowing seasonal hires to apply online for any role in three minutes or less. In 2019, seasonal hiring took place in-person on one day in all stores as well as at select distribution and customer contact centers.
Macy’s is filling seasonal work positions on Oct. 22 during a virtual hiring event where interviews will be conducted by phone. The department store operator said in a statement, “The quick and convenient process allows seasonal candidates to interview from wherever.”
While supporting social distancing and easing interviewing for recruits, the promised benefits to retailers from virtual hiring include reaching a larger pool of candidates, flexibility for assessments, reduced costs and faster time-to-hire. Remote recruitment also enables retailers to collect digital feedback, and it is said that video interviews can help eliminate interviewer biases.
Virtual onboarding likewise promises convenience for both recruits and potential employers as well as efficiencies in getting new employees up to speed.
Traditionally, for instance, Sprouts Farmers Market oriented new hires in person, with trainers traveling around to stores to conduct cluster training sessions. The organic grocer recently shifted to a virtual reality tool that gives new recruits a way to experience a store nearly identical to where they’ll be working. The technology promises to enable recruits to learn in a self-paced manner and be trained the same way about safety protocols, customer service and Sprouts’ culture.
“I’m so grateful we launched this before COVID-19,” Cindy Chikahisa, Sprouts’ VP of store operations, recently told the Harvard Business Review of the online training system. “I can’t imagine hiring thousands of people — which we’ve done over the last few months — and trying to give them an onboarding experience during a pandemic.”
As with remote working, experts project that companies will shift to virtual hiring and training post-COVID.
- Gap Inc. Reimagines Hiring for the Upcoming Holiday Season – Gap
- Macy’s Looking to Hire Thousands During Virtual Job Fair Thursday – NBC San Diego
- Culture-building at scale for essential retailer Sprouts – Strivr
- Williams Sonoma Is Hiring Remote Workers for the Holiday Shopping Season – House Beautiful
- Is VR the Future of Corporate Training? – Harvard Business Review
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the quality of retail’s seasonal staff be impacted by the shift toward virtual hiring and onboarding? Do you see more pros than cons should retailers shift in the years ahead to virtual over in-person recruiting and onboarding for new employees?