The Hybrid Workforce: Overcoming Recruitment and Onboarding Challenges

A hybrid workforce blends remote and on-site work models to give employees the flexibility and freedom they value – and expect. In today’s world of work, candidates and new hires are assessing companies for fit just as thoroughly as companies are evaluating them. At a time when jobseekers have the upper hand – and where The Great Resignation of 2021 sees employees leaving jobs in record numbers – getting recruitment and onboarding right is more challenging and yet more important than ever. 

Defining the hybrid workforce

A true hybrid workforce incorporates HR technology and employee experience best practices to help employees feel more satisfied and engaged, and to make businesses more resilient and competitive.

According to Harvard Business Review, the hybrid workforce gives businesses “the benefits of remote working (increased flexibility, reduced carbon footprint, labor-cost optimization, and increased employee satisfaction) alongside the critical strengths of traditional, co-located work (smoother coordination, informal networking, stronger cultural socialization, greater creativity, and face-to-face collaboration).”

The hybrid workforce: Changing beliefs and assumptions

What is a hybrid workplace model and how does it work?

Many of the traditional objections to remote work were based on the assumption that a lack of supervision and nine-to-five on-site structures would reduce employee performance. However, the pandemic provided an opportunity for organizations to challenge these long-held beliefs. And as it turned out, the deluge of data on remote and hybrid workplace performance told quite a different story.

Evidence shows that a hybrid workforce actually performs better, with greater employee retention, engagement, and even profitability.  A survey of employers by Mercer determined that “productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely.” And Gartner reports that “at typical organizations where employees work a standard 40 hours per week in the office, only 36% of employees were high performers. When organizations shift from this environment to one of radical flexibility where employees have choice over where, when, and how much they work, 55% of employees were high performers.” 

Employee recruitment and onboarding challenges in a hybrid workforce

While the hybrid workforce offers clear advantages, these gains can only be realized with some radical shifts in HR procedure. The pandemic forced businesses to change their processes – particularly their recruiting and onboarding approach – virtually overnight. While this kick-started procedural innovation and optimization, it also unearthed some new challenges for HR departments. A Mindedge survey of almost 800 senior-level HR professionals found that 35% of those surveyed felt that remote recruiting is more challenging than in-person recruiting and 38% said that remote interviews are less productive than in-person. And in another recent survey, almost 50% of respondents indicated that remote onboarding processes would be one of the “biggest challenges” they would face in the post-pandemic world of work.

Cultural challenges:

Technological challenges:

The power of AI-driven HR technologies

Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven HR technologies can make recruitment and onboarding processes more efficient for HR teams by automating tasks at every step of the hiring process – from recruiting to onboarding to retention. As Josh Bersin says, “The way we source, assess, hire, train, develop, pay, and move people is all being informed by AI.”  

Technologies such as machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA) are helping manage and mitigate recruitment and onboarding challenges by offering more integrated, personalized HR solutions. For example, machine learning tools can evaluate and rank applicants by scanning resumes and assessing qualifications and skills – all while using algorithms that help to spot potential and eliminate bias.  And RPA uses bots to perform administrative tasks such as collecting data, triggering responses, and communicating across business systems.

Other benefits of AI-driven technologies include:

Group of new hire employees virtually attending onboarding session

These modern HR solutions aren’t designed to replace people, but instead to free them up – and support them – in doing the work they do best. HR professionals are often known for their excellent intuition and empathy and while these are valuable skills, they can lead to unintentional bias. The right HR strategies can help ensure that businesses can still benefit from the well-honed skills of their HR teams while also using technologies such as AI to help eliminate bias and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Strategic HR management and the emerging role of HR as a business driver

The goal of strategic human resource management is to deliver long-term business value and competitive advantage via a strong workplace culture and a committed workforce equipped for the future. Strategic HR reflects the changing role of human resources as it’s moved away from a strictly operational offering to one that is purposefully integrated across the business. Beyond providing guidance during the transition to remote and hybrid work, HR leaders are also breaking down silos, supporting confident decision-making and goal setting across the organization.  When HR is a business driver, the whole company benefits. For example: 

Getting started with digital transformation for HR

To drive digital transformation for HR, leaders need to:

Digital transformation for HR starts with good communication and change management strategies. Communicating with internal teams and encouraging the sharing of ideas helps to break down silos and unearth goldmines of information about risks and opportunities. HR leadership needs to think about how the software and technologies they’re adopting can improve operational flexibility and the employee experience and make the company more competitive and profitable.

Learn to recruit and onboard top talent with SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting and SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding