How to secure top talent during pandemic

Vice president of HR at Wolseley shares best practices

How to secure top talent during pandemic

by Kim Forgues

The upheaval through most of 2020 and into this year has been seismic. In our personal lives and professionally, almost universally, how and what we are doing today is different than the way we were doing it a year ago. 

This also rings true for HR professionals. We have had to be creative with the way we recruit, onboard and train our associates.  

At Wolseley, a plumbing and HVAC/R distributor, safety is always at the forefront of everything that we do. With the pandemic, our focus on safety has heightened. Prior to March 2020, we sought top talent in many ways, including face-to-face networking, recruitment events and, of course, the now ancient practice of in-person interviews. That seems like a thing of the past now, doesn’t it?  

Like many other companies, we have had to pivot the way we engage with prospective and incoming employees to ensure health and safety is not compromised. Here’s what we’re doing:  

We stay connected: Since in-person networking events are no more (at least for now), our recruiters have moved networking to digital platforms. Social groups such as Women in HVACR, HVAC Professionals, HVAC Sales Jobs and Global Jobs Network on Facebook and LinkedIn are conduits to the talent community. We also regularly showcase opportunities on various job boards and encourage employees to share job postings on their personal and professional networks. 

We went virtual: Video conferencing tools have been invaluable during the pandemic. Wolseley Canada’s hiring managers quickly adapted to the practice of video interviewing and in the summer, our Talent Acquisition Team held a virtual job fair for the first-time using Microsoft Teams. It was a huge success.

We keep our website up to date: It’s frustrating when you are looking for a job, you think you found the perfect opportunity and then discover that the opportunity has passed. We try our best to ensure that only roles that are currently open are posted on our site, and promptly remove ones that are either filled or on hold.

We highlight our COVID-friendly benefits: It’s important to recognize that not only is the company looking for the right candidate, but the candidate is also looking for the right employer. Now, more than ever, applicants are paying closer attention to healthcare insurance and benefits. Recently, we enhanced our employee benefits and launched a virtual wellness program to encourage employees to stay fit. We readily share these details with prospective candidates so they understand just how much our organization will support them during these challenging times.  

We instituted an improved employee referral bonus: Our employees are our greatest ambassadors, which is why we enhanced our employee referral bonus program to encourage staff to play a bigger role in helping us secure the best talent in the industry.

Kim Forgues is the vice president of human resources at Wolseley Canada in Burlington, Ont. 

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