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Staff recruitment issues e-commerce brands face during COVID-19

Like any other business, e-commerce brands are experiencing a lot of issues when it comes to hiring staff during a raging pandemic. Many talents are held up indoors, the economic recession has forced many professionals to change careers, and meeting up with potential recruits for face-to-face interviews borders on impossible. The good thing is that there are solutions to these problems – once they are identified and clearly defined.

Here are four recruitment issues that e-commerce businesses are facing at the moment and ways to mitigate them:

1. Problems with exporting staff.  You will need to hire new workers whenever you expand your operations to a new country. While deploying your in-house workers to run operations for you abroad would save you time and money because you won’t need to retrain them, it comes with a lot of HR management challenges. For starters, it would take a lot of time for your in-house employees to get used to working abroad, mostly due to culture-related issues. The current COVID 19 travel restrictions , cessation of movement in some cities, and regional lockdowns don’t make things any easier. There might be delays in shipping employees, which can hurt your company’s productivity and make your business lag in an already competitive market.

What can you do about this challenge? Rather than shipping your current staff, you could partner with a professional employer organization (PEO) to recruit the locals. Working with a payroll outsourcing service has a number of benefits, including shared risks and management of human resource duties.

2. Union interference.  Almost all professionals around the world are members of at least one workers’ union. From an employee’s perspective, unions are great because they empower them to bargain for better pay and improved working conditions – something that’s especially crucial during a pandemic. However, from an employer’s perspective, unions put unnecessary barriers to what would otherwise be a smooth hiring process.

Thus, if you have moved your e-commerce operations to countries where unions are vocal, you need to tread carefully to avoid unwanted lawsuits and/or industrial action. To ensure that you do not end up on the wrong side of the law, you need to get an attorney to help you demystify the requirements that unions want to be fulfilled before hiring employees in their country. When you comply with their demands, there is a zero chance that a union will interfere with your business endeavors.

3. Language barrier. While you might not experience any challenges with local recruits, your foreign ones may have a challenge working with your e-commerce when it is not tailored to their primary language. To overcome this problem, your best bet is to only hire employees with a basic understanding of your language.

You may also opt to educate your foreign staff members on a common language for all your brand’s operations. You can achieve this by leveraging online language training programs, where recruits can master the language before they begin working for you. Better still, you can source translation services to professionally translate your e-commerce brand messages to the required foreign language. The beauty of hiring translation services is that you will help your new staff to better understand your brand culture, reputation, and, most importantly, mission and vision. It will also be easier for them to contribute to the growth of your business, given that they understand the needs of potential customers or clients in their contexts.

4. Lack of human contact. There are many advantages to sitting face to face with a job candidate. For starters, you can learn a lot about a person’s general character and attitude by studying their body language. COVID 19 has eliminated that crucial hiring part.

Given that it is tricky to understand someone virtually during an interview, you could do a thorough background check on them before shortlisting them. The way to do this is by scanning their social media pages keenly to see what kind of content they post and how they interact with content from other users. You can also ask for their CV, motivational letter, or professional portfolio, and request that these files get converted to PDF, so that these documents don’t change the format. The information you get will give you an almost clear picture of the character of the person that you are intending to hire.

Moving forward strategically

Most of the recruitment issues that e-commerce brands are facing today will outlive the pandemic. To be safe, it is advisable that you revise your recruitment strategy to make it ready for a revolutionized post-COVID labor market. Doing this will be challenging at first, but it will give you a competitive edge in the long run.

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