5 Tips On Building A More Inclusive Workforce Post-COVID-19


In the past few weeks, we’ve seen seismic shifts happening to the workplace landscape that are bringing employers’ hiring practices into the spotlight.

For example:

  • With the B.C. economy contracting by 6% from last year, many employers have paused or shifted their hiring needs.
  • Employers are extremely cost-conscious, with 53 per cent of Canadian businesses seeing a revenue decline of over 20 per cent due to COVID-19.
  • There are employee expectations to meet as well. In Edelman’s recent Trust Barometer, 78 per cent of employees said they expect businesses to act to protect their employees and local community and help rebuild after COVID-19.
  • Meanwhile, many employers are paying attention, and responding, to world-wide demonstrations and calls to address anti-black racism.

This is a difficult and painful time.

However, it’s also a time where HR leadership can play a powerful role in helping to eliminate systemic barriers that racialized youth face and creating a more inclusive job market.

And spending time today on implementing youth-inclusive hiring and retention practices can mean success tomorrow—saving time and money, leveraging generational skillsets, and improving an organization’s bottom line.

Here are five questions based on CivicAction’s free HireNext assessment that you can ask to help open up your entry-level roles to eager, skilled and diverse young job-seekers.

Question 1: When it comes to recruiting, are you speaking the same language as your entry-level candidates?

Sourcing and recruiting entry-level talent starts with the job description itself—is it written for Millennials and Generation Z? Keeping the tone youth-friendly with clear terms that describe the role, like “junior” or “entry-level,” will encourage youth to apply.

Depending on the role, you can also attract more candidates by emphasizing skills versus years of experience and education.

Replace buzzwords with more straightforward language–for instance, replace “self-starter” with “takes initiative”- and spell out acronyms like KPI or ROI.

Question 2: Are you tailoring your sourcing methods based on where candidates actually are? 

Posting to the company webpage, a storefront window, or a job bank website are good ways to promote your opportunity, but are they the right ones? Using an “If I post it, they will come” mentality won’t necessarily get the kind of talent pool you’re looking for.

To attract youth applicants, McDonalds announced plans in 2017 to use targeted ads on Snapchat. Their Australia campaign received four times the number of applications in 24 hours than traditional methods gathered in a week.

Question 3: Are your experience and credentials requirements creating screening “tunnel vision”?

When screening and selecting entry-level candidates, just looking at someone’s resume won’t necessarily tell you if they’ll be a star in the role.

Consider simulations that reflect the duties of a job or even presentations if the role is customer-facing. H&M Canada changed their practices to have candidates come in to a store to perform on-the-job tasks as part of the interview.    

You can also train your managers or staff in hiring roles on diversity and inclusion practices to overcome any unintentional biases. Resources and reports, like RBC and EY’s “Overcoming our Brains, Overcoming our Biases,” are out there to help if learning and development budgets are frozen.

Question 4: Are your onboarding practices happening early enough?

You’ve put out your call, found your hire, now you’re ready to bring them on to the team. Creating an effective onboarding experience for new entry-level hires will positively influence their commitment, performance, and retention.

RBC had managers in their Career Launch program reach out to hires prior to their start date to have a detailed conversation on expectations, as well as to build rapport and answer any burning questions.

Question 5: Are retention strategies built in from the start?

Identifying learning and growth opportunities early on will help new hires see where they fit into the organization’s success. A Harvard Business Review study of over 1,200 entry-level workers between the ages of 17-to-24 found that their second-highest ranked job priority was career trajectory and professional development opportunities.

Reaching out early can also help inform how you tailor your learning and development process for a new entry-level hire. This could include more formal skills training, job shadowing, regular feedback sessions, or 1-on-1 chats.

Mentorship can be a key piece in any onboarding and retention strategy. A case study at Sun Microsystems found that retention rates were much higher for mentorship participants (72% for mentees, 69% for mentors) than employees who did not participate (49%).

Next Steps In An Uncertain Time

Having more inclusive practices and work environments will be important in a post-pandemic world. Not only will your organization be able to hire quickly, you’ll have the structures in place to ensure longer-term success with a diverse, dynamic team. For tailored recommendations, take CivicAction’s free HireNext assessment here.



Tamara Balan is a seasoned civic leader and entrepreneur, Tamara became Interim CEO of CivicAction in February 2020. Working to boost civic engagement and build better cities, Tamara has led CivicAction’s leadership programs, launched key initiatives including efforts to level the employment playing field for opportunity youth, which includes the national expansion of free HireNext program for employers.

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