The labor market is tight across all sectors, making it especially challenging to find people to fill open positions in your education organization. In 2021, during the height of the global pandemic, employees between ages 30 and 45 resigned at the highest rates. Unfortunately, these high levels of turnover have continued in the education sector, creating added stress for teams as they work to accomplish their mission-critical work with fewer staff and on HR teams they struggle to fill roles in a challenging talent landscape.
Technology has made remote work increasingly popular over the last few decades. Employees who have been able to work from home avoid commuting, saving time and money. However, remote work has been far less popular in the education sector, even in non-teaching roles. The arrival of COVID-19 forced many sectors to create remote positions and move some or all of their employees home. In education, administrations across the United States had K-12 students learning from home. In some cases, districts created hybrid models where students physically went to school one or two days a week in a socially distanced setting.
Regardless of their exact function, many non-teaching roles in the education sector also transitioned to remote work due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic is still here, and new variants of COVID threaten future lock-downs, closures, and a return to remote work for those who came back to the office. The reality of the situation is that remote work is necessary, and many employees now prefer to work from home. Current data indicates that work from home positions will quadruple from pre-pandemic levels.
Below we take a closer look at aspects of hiring in today’s remote work world, including trends that might impact hiring, tips for attracting and hiring top talent, and best practices for hiring in today’s new remote-forward climate.
Remote Work Trends in 2021
This year has brought significant changes in remote work trends, which will likely continue for the remainder of the year. Having some insight into these trends can help you plan your recruitment and selection process. Two specific remote work trends in 2021 that could affect hiring include:
Plentiful Job Hunters
Before the global pandemic, the average voluntary turnover rate across all industries in the U.S. was approximately 15 percent. This year, the number of people planning to look for jobs is much higher. According to Prudential’s recent Pulse of the American Worker study, over 25 percent of American workers intend to look for a job once the threat of the pandemic subsides. Hiring managers in the education sector have an opportunity to connect with job seekers who want to make a change. Furthermore, many job seekers from other sectors are attracted to working in the education sector for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
Job Hunters Will Accept a Pay Cut for Remote Work
In a recent study, survey respondents expressed the desire to work from home at least two or three days a week. In fact, respondents answered that they would take a seven percent pay cut to work from home a few days a week after the pandemic. In another study, 44 percent of respondents said they would take a 10 percent pay cut to work from home forever. This trend can be advantageous for the education sector, especially nonprofit organizations working on shoestring budgets. The ability to work from home has, in effect, become an incredibly valuable part of the compensation and benefits package. Consequently, education organizations willing to allow employees to work remotely for some portion of the week may not have to offer as high of a salary to attract top talent, allowing them to spend their limited funds in other ways to further their mission.
The fact that job hunters will accept a pay cut to work remotely can also loosen up money to use towards employee retention. Increased professional development, larger performance-based raises, improved health benefits, etc may now be affordable for the first time with these savings. Investments such as these can help drive higher employee retention, helping prevent team members from gaining remote work skills from your organization and quickly moving on to a position elsewhere.
Tips and Tricks for Hiring in a New Remote-Forward Climate
You now know that remote work is here to stay post-pandemic, employees want to work remotely, and the candidate pool will likely be more extensive than expected. However, you still need to know how to create strategies that attract and recruit talent in light of these trends. Below we offer various tips and tricks to help your organization make the best planning and hiring decisions in today’s work world.
Update Company Policies
As more people get vaccinated, businesses reopen, and kids return to school, many leaders have taken a lax approach to remote work. You must make purposeful policies about remote work, so your educational organization can thrive and meet programmatic goals. Examples of long-term policy considerations for remote work include:
- Finding the right mix of remote work vs. office-based work for your organization. How many days per week will your employees work from home? Is it the same for everyone, or do different roles have different in-office requirements?
- Determining whether employees must be local. If you allow team members to work from home entirely, can they live anywhere in the United States? Do employees need to be within a specific range of the office?
- Maintaining company culture. Remote work makes it challenging to maintain your organizational culture, so you need to make special plans to spread the norms and values of your educational organization to your workforce.
- Adjusting salary and benefits. Attracting the best talent may not require as high of a salary because people want to work from home. However, if you hire people from different areas of the country, you have to consider differences in the cost of living. On-site benefits such as an in-building gym or childcare center don’t help remote workers, so you will need to provide other alternatives.
- Tweaking employee training and onboarding. Some new employees might not have remote work experience, so they need additional training. Training can include learning specific software but should also include the social and relational aspects of remote work.
Step Up Your Digital Recruiting Game
Lack of face-to-face interaction has been one of the biggest challenges with increased remote working, making it especially difficult to onboard new team members. Additionally, some applicants could have lost their previous position because of COVID-related closures and cutbacks, so they feel an immense amount of pressure to find a job. These considerations will help you stand out during the recruitment process:
- Provide clarity and structure. The global pandemic has uprooted the daily routine for students, parents, teachers, non-teaching employees, and management, leaving many in a constant state of flux. Provide clear expectations and a structure for your recruitment process, enabling candidates to know what to expect and feel confident about accepting a position at your organization.
- Provide timely feedback. Remain empathetic to the struggles job candidates have faced. Show care by providing feedback during each stage of the hiring process, allowing job candidates to feel secure with the process. If a candidate is not a good fit, it’s best to let them know immediately.
- Improve diversity. Unconscious bias undoubtedly sneaks into the hiring process. Recruiting job candidates online provides a chance to reduce that bias when organizations adjust their approach to align with online recruitment. In addition, organizations need to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion in new, meaningful ways in 100% virtual hiring processes given that candidates can not get a feel for the organization’s culture and values by visiting in-person.
Address the Inequalities of Job Candidates
The global pandemic has highlighted socioeconomic and demographic inequalities among different groups, including a higher COVID-19 death rate among African Americans and racist attitudes towards Asian Americans. These types of disparities might seem unrelated to hiring and recruitment. However, some recruitment processes—often unintentionally—privilege some demographic groups over others. The wording in job advertisements and decisions about hiring sometimes further inequalities, even when organizations make an effort towards diversity and inclusion.
Education organizations serve various communities consisting of students and teachers with a wide range of socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds. Therefore, it’s impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all policy to equalize opportunities for new team members. However, as you plan your remote recruiting strategies, you need to question each policy and process to ensure you are not normalizing or reinforcing socioeconomic inequalities through your selection process, especially concerning demographic privilege.
Best Practices for Remote Recruiting
We’ve provided you with tips and tricks for hiring candidates in a climate where remote work has been normalized and often preferred. Many of our tips and tricks also relate to best practices. Following best practices for remote recruiting ensures your recruitment and hiring process is consistent, which ultimately makes the process smoother and more efficient. Some best practices you should follow for your education organization include:
Welcome an Inclusive Work Culture
Remote recruiting allows you to hire people from all over the country and with various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This allows for a diverse workplace representing the multiple backgrounds of students who benefit from your organization’s programmatic goals. Embrace diversity and inclusivity by learning about different cultures, their business practices, and how you can help foster understanding and communication among a team with diverse backgrounds.
Create Comprehensive Job Descriptions
You can simplify your candidate search by creating thorough job descriptions that do more than simply list the skills and qualities you want for a specific non-teaching role in your organization. Not all applicants will likely have remote work experience, so you need to provide a detailed look at what a typical workday will look like for them. Additionally, your job description needs to define what “remote” means for your organization. For example, will the new team member work remotely 100 percent of the time or only a few days a week? Does the team member need to live in the school district or city you serve, or can they live anywhere in the region?
Furthermore, we always recommend that you disclose in the job description at minimum the dollar amount that the salary range begins at for the position. Candidates truly appreciate this transparency, which leads to an increased quantity and diversity of candidates that choose to apply. While not quite the norm in the education sector, this salary transparency is increasingly becoming expected and will likely be standard practice in our sector in the not-to-distant future.
Embrace SEO Best Practices
The Gallup Organization estimates that more than 75 percent of all job seekers search for employment opportunities online (and anecdotally, here at WorkMonger we’d put it at about 100%!). Therefore, your website needs to be optimized to draw suitable candidates to your page. The easier you make it for potential job candidates to find your organization’s website, fill out an application, and submit it online, the faster you can fill an opening. Using search engine optimization (SEO) practices helps save you time and money during the recruitment process.
Assess Each Candidate’s Ability to Thrive in a Remote Work Environment
Assessing each candidate’s skills, strengths, abilities, and values-alignment is the primary goal of screening resumes and asking questions in job interviews. Remote recruiting does not change that. It’s always helpful to know the experiences and personality traits of potential team members and the way they deal with challenges and obstacles to their job. However, working remotely creates additional challenges for some, so you need to assess the extent to which a job candidate can thrive at home. This means asking questions about their ability to independently manage their work, as well as their overall attitude and commitment towards work and your organization’s specific goals.
Working remotely has been on the rise, but the arrival of the global pandemic skyrocketed its popularity and necessity. Although adapting to this new remote work environment poses some challenges, especially for the education sector which has historically had lower levels of remote job positions, your organization can thrive once you make some changes.
Many job seekers will be searching for new positions that offer at least a partial opportunity for remote work, and they are willing to take a pay cut for the chance. Update your company policies, employ best practices for remote recruiting and hiring, and focus on inclusivity and diversity in a thoughtful way that addresses the inequalities of the candidate pool.
If hiring in today’s remote work world is overwhelming, contact WorkMonger for guidance. We provide a wide range of services to help education organizations hire non-teaching roles. In addition to full-cycle recruiting and selection services, we also offer smart job postings and a job board. Our Scan and Match smart job postings match your position to more than 40,000 job seekers, inviting qualified matches to apply to your role. In addition, our TrulyHired job board is the largest non-teaching education job board with traditional job postings, providing another recruitment opportunity for your organization.