April 18, 2020
As the effects of COVID-19 rock the world on so many levels, it’s given me time to reflect on how this will not only temporarily impact the recruitment industry, but how these new norms we’re navigating could re-shape our way of life forever.
6 months ago, if someone had told you you’d be working with your team daily via Zoom, supporting staff juggling homeschooling whilst balancing workloads, you wouldn’t have believed them. Whilst we will hopefully see some normality return soon, perhaps we’ve been forced to learn new ways of working that would actually be better for business?
With some companies having to recruit new staff and onboard them without even meeting candidates face-to-face at the moment, it has thrown up the question of how efficient our process has been up to this point.
There’s no doubt that a lot can be learnt about someone from meeting them in person, but take away that initial handshake and small talk at the coffee machine, would it not be possible to conduct interviews via webcam in the future? Candidates may feel more at ease in their home environment, giving you a window to their world in the process.
There are many benefits to virtual recruitment, including time-saving for key members of staff who are already seeing a shortage of staff in their team, hence why they are needing to recruit in the first place. Recruiters and line managers having the ability to call into interviews could be an important step in the evolution of recruitment.
Remote Working Possibilities
We were already in a technology-driven world, but perhaps this way of working would have opened doors to higher skilled staff living further afield before this time?
Some businesses have had their eyes opened during this pandemic as they learn that their team can work efficiently from home. With free online tools including Skype, Whatsapp and Zoom at your fingertips, the world has been made a little smaller, making it perfectly easy to communicate and manage a business online.
Going forward, you may consider having a core team at the office, supported by virtual employees working anywhere in the world. This opens up the recruitment process globally, allowing you to cherry-pick the most skilled employees, whilst giving them the perk of home working and saving on commuting costs.
Offering a full or partial remote working option to existing employees could also improve staff relationships, offering them flexibility but also cutting your own overheads in the process. One less desk, electricity supply and office space could provide extra money for the bottom line, but also give cashflow to pump back into bonuses and pay increases to motivate your team and increase productivity.
Increased Volumes of Applicants
Whilst the government battle to do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep businesses in, well, business, there’s no doubt people are falling through the cracks when it comes to income support and job retention. This is going to cause an increase in applicant numbers when businesses reopen their doors, taking us from a candidate-led market to one full of applicants.
People currently have time on their hands, and some are using this to ‘level up’, taking courses and expanding their skillset. They may be disgruntled with how their current employer has treated them during this crisis and be looking to completely shift career paths once normality is restored.
All of this will contribute to an increase in applications…and from those who may not have previously applied for your job openings. Transferable skills which may be beneficial to you should definitely be considered, and the job application review process ideally would need to be reworked.
Supporting Each Other
Whilst technology is helping many of us find a way through this unprecedented situation, it’s also important to remember that we are all human. Some of my team have partners who are NHS workers or in the Care sector. With the added pressure of homeschooling, the best thing for them has been furloughing so they can concentrate on their family – we are standing by them to offer extra support through this time.
In the recruitment industry, we are often made to work to a high numbers, low margin model – will this be something we would want to continue with? At times, it can be a very one sided relationship. We have been fortunate during this time to have the support of some amazing clients, and it’s a time like this you know you are working with people who appreciate the value you bring to their business. Sometimes pricing has to be ethical, as we all have continuing running costs and bills to pay, despite seeing less coming into the bank in the majority of cases.
After speaking with fellow recruiters over the last few weeks, the general consensus is that the market will be tough for some time. How employees have reacted to these changes forced upon us may impact long term retention of staff, but sometimes businesses have to make tough decisions to protect themselves long term, and any decisions wouldn’t have been personal.
Striking the balance between ensuring employees have a business to return to, whilst being understanding of their own financial and personal strains, is a fine line to tread. Communication is key – an informed employee will find it easier to process any tough decisions you have to make, as they’ve seen your path that led to those outcomes.
The recruitment industry will in no doubt be different after the current Coronavirus pandemic, the question is will you be adapting to fit the new ‘norms’ we could face?
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