Hiring in a VUCA World: How to Get it Right

There’s a reason why ‘unprecedented’ was Dictionary.com’s word of the year in 2020.

In fact, society has changed so significantly in a short period of time that talking about these ‘unprecedented times’ has even become somewhat of a cliché.

We're still coming to terms with the aftermath of a global pandemic, Brexit, rising inflation, a national skills shortage, international political unrest and our response to climate change.

The impact of all this is that we’re now operating in what’s known as a ‘VUCA’ world for businesses.

But what exactly is VUCA and how does it impact your hiring?

What is VUCA?

VUCA is an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It’s a phrase used to describe an environment of constant, unpredictable change that has become the zeitgeist of the last few years.

To break the acronym down, VUCA stands for…

  • Volatility – change is constant, rapid and unpredictable
  • Uncertainty – the present is unclear and the future is uncertain
  • Complexity – many interconnected factors have the potential to cause chaos
  • Ambiguity – there’s a lack of clarity about situations.

To succeed in a VUCA world, you need to be comfortable with uncertainty. You need to be ready to adapt and open to challenging and reassessing the ‘norm’ of how you currently operate as a business.

This, of course, includes your recruitment strategy and practices too – processes that have worked well for you in the past may be completely ineffectual in this new environment. The key to overcoming this challenge is to take time to understand how VUCA might be impacting your business’s recruitment process so that you can adapt in response.

How VUCA affects hiring

If this sort of turbulence is going on at a business level, just imagine the impact VUCA must be having on candidates too. Your current and future employees are experiencing the impact of VUCA in ways you might not have even considered yet.

When you’re trying to grow a business in a VUCA world, making the right hires becomes even more paramount to your success.

How to hire in a VUCA world

To continue hiring the right people successfully into your organisation, you need to ensure your hiring process is VUCA-proof. Here are some things to consider:

Show empathy with candidates

For the majority of us, moving jobs is a big deal – never mind in a VUCA world where there are many unknowns and question marks over what the future might bring. Meet candidates where they are at both mentally and emotionally: It’s likely they’ll need more assurance and empathy in this new environment than they would have in a pre-covid marketplace.

Provide them with the opportunity to meet a range of people in your business so they feel a sense of belonging from the very beginning. Tell them about your values and what you’re doing as an employer to help your staff to demonstrate that you’re an employer who cares.  Be open and honest about your challenges but also the wins you have had. Vulnerability and honesty builds trust.

Create a strong EVP

Having a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is always important in a candidate-led market, but even more so in a VUCA world. What will the candidate get in return for their skills and experience? What’s in it for them?

Don’t expect candidates to understand your EVP based on your branding – these are two very different things. You need to have a devoted strategy to expressing your values, culture and company DNA to let the candidate decide if it’s a match for them personally.

Tighten up your hiring process

A successful hiring process in a VUCA world relies on a shift in understanding that candidates are sussing you out as much as you are assessing them.

And with Covid-19 now making remote interviews the norm, employers need to go above and beyond to ensure they’re creating a positive candidate experience every step of the journey.

A positive candidate experience includes providing quick response feedback and job offers. Speed matters more than ever in a VUCA world, so you need to move at a pace if you’re going to keep candidates engaged in your process. Slow offers also leave you vulnerable to counter offers from both their current employer and your competitors, so a faster process will benefit you as much as the candidate.

Stay close to your recruiter

Staying close to your recruiter even when you’re not hiring will help you navigate the job market in a VUCA world. Let them be your market intel - they will know about any changes in the market well before you feel them. Use their expertise to help guide your hiring decisions.

Candidates are overwhelmingly passive when the market is like this so it’s not a situation where you can wait for them to come to you. You need a recruiter who knows the market and your business inside out so they can proactively source the right people for your organisation and be an effective representation of you to prospective talent.

Hire agile

For any process to survive in a VUCA world, it’s imperative that you regularly review and evaluate: What has gone well in your recruitment process in the last 3-6 months? What could be done differently next time?

Adapting your process like this is a form of agile hiring – you work with your recruiter to develop your candidate journey, constantly reviewing and improving it as you go to ensure you’re responding quickly to any changes in the market.

As well as being more agile with your processes, it’s also worth thinking about the kinds of agile qualities to look for in candidates that indicate they’ll perform well in a VUCA world. For example, traits like resilience, curiosity, adaptability and analytical skills become more important typically in this kind of environment.

Let’s be real – it’s likely we’ll be in a VUCA climate for some time, so to stay on the right path with your hiring, you need to recognise and embrace VUCA, not resist it.

By working with Lusona as your recruitment partner, you’ll have experts on your side to guide you through this VUCA market and ensure you make the best hires for your organisation – no matter what the market looks like.

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