The quarantine imposed in the country became a huge challenge for business, but Danske Bank in Lithuania prepared for the challenges and flexibly adapted to the changed circumstances. The current situation did not prevent 17 new employees from starting work last week, and shortly they will be joined by another 26 specialists. Danske Bank's activities and hiring processes did not stop – everything moved to the virtual space and is now implemented remotely.
95 per cent of the company's employees started working from home instead of their offices. According to representatives of the organisation, success was achieved by accurate planning and implementation of a series of solutions before the quarantine started. Therefore, Danske Bank experts in Lithuania say that the strength and survival of the business depend on the ability to be a step ahead.
New job – without stepping a foot outside
Quarantine in the country has divided Lithuanian Danske Bank offices into more than 3,500 small offices at home. Specialists who relocated to such home offices continue to work under normal conditions, and the company aims to have 97 per cent of its employees working remotely in the nearest future. Indrė Sakalauskienė, Human Resources Strategy Partner at Danske Bank IT Centre, points out that this has been achieved through a critical assessment of the situation in Lithuania and the world when decisions were made to implement changes before the declaration of state emergency.
"We had a plan for quarantine and prepared for it responsibly in advance. As a result, since last Monday, all employees who remained at home had equipment suitable for remote work and were able to work properly. This allowed us to save a lot of time, resources, and the current situation does not affect our business – the need for new employees remains stable, we continue to carry out projects, create products and help the organisation to achieve its strategic goals. Only a very small part of the work due to the specifics of it cannot be moved to the home and carried out remotely. However, we have successfully re-organised the selections and are conducting them in virtually," comments I. Sakalauskienė.
According to the interlocutor, the company conducts interviews with candidates using the Skype application; the contracts are delivered to new employees by couriers. Equipment necessary for work is delivered in the same manner.
"Back in early March, we offered a choice – to come to our office for a live interview or to participate in a virtual interview. We did this after noticing the first signs of alarm in Europe, taking into account the candidate's needs and avoiding additional stress for the candidate. Such a turn to a potential employee is also a way for the employer to gain more confidence," Danske Bank expert says while discussing the importance of caring for future specialists.
Tips for virtual interviews
There are currently no options for candidates to choose whether to come for an interview at the office or to stay at home. However, I. Sakalauskienė says that the virtual interview has only accelerated the process because it is now much easier and faster to find and reach potential employees. They feel more confident in their environment.
"On the other hand, we cannot see the full body language of the candidate, it becomes a little more challenging to assess the suitability in detail, but we overcome these challenges with additional interviews with each candidate. As for the interview, the process goes smoothly: first of all, we call and inform the candidate that we will communicate remotely. We give instructions for the interview to both the candidate and the managers. We explain how to connect, check the video and sound quality. We have an HR team responsible for interviews' set up. During the selection process, it is essential for us to feel the connection, so we ask candidates to make video calls so that we could see their face, mimics, reactions“ I. Sakalauskienė explains the specifics of the virtual interview.
The Danske Bank human resources expert adds that during quarantine time, we are following the same hiring process - we conduct two types of interviews - a technical one between a candidate and a manager. The second interview covers personality types, ways of working and behaviour. According to the interlocutor, screen sharing is advisable when dealing with a programming task.
"We also prepare managers for the interview by educating them on how to ensure interview efficiency, improve experience for the candidate. We advise them on what to do if a child enters the room during a conversation, the dog starts barking, we give recommendations for various even funny scenarios", smiles I. Sakalauskienė.
The interlocutor adds that experience of the candidate and potential employee in making such a selection is very important to the company, therefore the aim is to reduce potential inconvenience, as well as to identify needs and expectations.
"We help managers not only to select the best candidates but also encourage them to prepare for the start of new employee's work in advance and ensure that it runs smoothly. Therefore, we discuss how to introduce the new employee to colleagues and what training to recommend. In this way, the employee, after being recruited, feels like a full member of the team and an important part of the company. Later, we organise virtual start-up sessions for new colleagues – we invite them to a community of new employees, introduce Danske Bank culture and basic organization information. We try to think through every detail so that the employee gets everything they need at the start of the job and feels welcome in the team," says I. Sakalauskienė.
Continues the search for almost 300 specialists
According to the Danske Bank expert, the company's experience in virtual selection could also be useful for other companies. She argues that business must adapt to circumstances during the quarantine period; otherwise, this situation will have an irreversible negative impact.
"With managers we discuss the need for business clothing and the environment, and the need to ask candidates how they feel about participating in such a Skype interview. Whether it is stressful for them or this is the first time, maybe they have had such an experience before. In this way, we help potential employees to relax and, at the same time, we advise managers not to other colleagues or discuss candidates. If technical problems arise, it is best to reschedule the interview. At the same time, it is very important to make it clear when the specialist will be able to start working, because the open dialogue is necessary for these circumstances," says I. Sakalauskienė.
When asked what candidates should know, the interlocutor emphasizes that quarantine has not changed Danske Bank's attitude towards specialists. The company continues to look for personalities with strong competencies and solid knowledge base; appreciates individuality, ability to culturally fit into a specific role in the organization: "In addition to our new colleagues, we are currently looking for another 270 specialists. The need for employees has neither decreased nor increased – it has remained the same instead. Quarantine has no impact on our business, so we aim to continue to fill the team", says I. Sakalauskienė.