Field for job candidates just got bigger

The coronavirus pandemic has created disruption and innovation in the workplace, which are likely to lead to a wider search for skilled workers across the country.

Field for job market

"The thing that is tangible that is going to be really interesting is how the search for talent is changing again,’’ said Doug Claffey, founder of Energage, the Philadelphia-area survey firm that works with The Washington Post on the Top Workplaces program.

“Employees and employers got over their fear of working remotely,” Claffey recently told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He said workers had “adjusted to a new normal and the impact of a crazy new environment.”

Employers will no longer recruit only local residents, Claffey said.

"Jobs have now become much more mobile,’’ he said. “We’re starting to see even smaller companies start to recruit nationally and more of them are recruiting internationally. The top candidate for a job could have 10 choices to pick from around the country instead of only three,” as was common before the pandemic, from local employers.

The perception of working from home, or working remotely, has transformed, Claffey said. It is no longer seen as a productivity risk and “not as scary” by employers. Also, “working from home is really beneficial for introverts.”

That does not mean all jobs will go remote. It is harder to use that model for work that focuses on creativity and requires collaboration.

Still, remote work comes with challenges based on physical separation. To cope with isolation, Claffey offered these tips:

  • Use breakout rooms in video conference calls to encourage small group collaboration.
  • Check in on people to see how they are doing personally.
  • Use pulse surveys to ask employees questions about how things are going.

Communication and technology are helping organizations through the challenges. Employers should not be afraid of the answers employees will give during the survey process, which Claffey refers to as “FOBR,” or “fear of bad results.”

In the end, organizations that listen and respond will stand out. “People understand culture and engagement are really important,” he said.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces. To nominate your company as a Top Workplace, go to

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