Financially and economically, many of us will feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Business leaders will be wanting progress and yet an air of ambiguity will surround plans for the future. Many UK organisations are probably hoping for a period of normality without flooding, Brexit or pandemics.
I doubt the future will be plain sailing, but as we look at emerging from the recent economic hibernation there will be winners and losers. Governments across the world have offered economic aid on a scale never before seen. They have been trying to protect business’ and workers so that when this pandemic is behind us – the world is ready to start production as quickly as possible.
I will leave others to discuss the politics involved. What is certain though is many organisations will have suffered despite the government handouts. Some organisations were not eligible for support and have had to fend for themselves. Customers have stopped buying, staff made redundant and suppliers are not paid on time.
A business that is well run, has the right team in place and the best available management will tend to come through an economic downturn in relatively good shape. A business that is not well run, has the wrong team or poor management in place simply don’t fair as well. It is not rocket science!
So, when it comes to your recruitment, I imagine (very broadly speaking) you fall into one of two situations. Firstly, you have come through the downturn roughly intact as an organisation. You still have the core of your team in place, but you are mindful of cashflow. You simply need to look at continuing your recruitment inline with business needs – this scenario is a good place to be.
Alternatively though, you could be a business that has reduce its workforce with redundancies. Cashflow is tight. Suddenly, everyone around you is wanting to fire-up business plans and are demanding your services. You are simply unable to respond because the team is not in place. You could sit back, tell everyone how tough life is and accept you are going to be a loser from the coronavirus situation…or you make some changes, accept things historically could and should have been done differently (or else you wouldn’t be in this situation) and you step-up to the plate and try and become a winner. I know which camp I would want to be associated with.
Take Action Today
Regardless of your current situation or how quickly recruitment needs to be addressed – An economic downturn is the perfect chance to review your suppliers and your processes. You can examine every aspect of the business in terms of costings and quality of service received (and given). It could be your watercooler, your telephone lines, your IT support, your accountant, and obviously your recruitment agency. Everything should be up for examination.
Every organisation and every business leader will tell you their team is the most important thing. Therefore, if you need to rebuild that team don’t do so by repeating old mistakes. Start by asking why you are rebuilding it in the first place – and don’t just blame the public health scare, take some responsibility yourself!
Take the example of one of my competitors; at the start of the coronavirus they immediately let several of their recruitment consultants go. Apparently, the business could not afford them. If the business had been run correctly, if those consultants were successful and generated the rewards expected I doubt they would have been let go so easily. Had coronavirus never happened, the day of reckoning would have still arrived, but things were brought to a head quicker with it.
Recruitment is a vital cog in the machinery, but just that – one cog. During the economic downtime you need to review every part of the organisation and figure out what else needs to be shaped around it for it to be successful in the long term. You are building a team and that is dependent on more than just the personality walking through the door.
Review Your Recruitment and Candidate Journey
Examine the job specs, the rewards systems (not just financial ones) and most importantly how these link to the behaviours you want your team to display.
Think through the onboarding process carefully. The last thing you want is for candidates to be joining and leaving almost immediately. How can you enhance it? What touchpoints and communications can you put in place so you keep educating a candidate? How do you increase their sense of belonging to your organisation? In short, what is your candidate journey and how do you make sure the right people are doing the right jobs?
How did you attract and assess your applicants previously? Was it the case of an advert on Facebook and the first application got the job? It might work, but analyse if your approach maximises the chances of find the very best available talent. Remember people are apparently the most important thing to you and your organisation…so do not cheat yourself out of finding the best possible talent.
Recruitment in a New Economy
As stated, governments across the world want the economy to bounce back quickly. If you are going to join this frenzy and not being left behind you need your recruitment to be timely, accurate and cost effective.
Is it easy to attract candidates after an economic downturn? You’d think so…. At the beginning of the year the UK had record high employment and record low unemployment and many commented how hard it was to find the right skills in the market. However there have been redundancies and organisations have gone to the wall due to coronavirus. In short, there will be more job seekers out there. Furthermore, some workers may feel the psychological relationship with their employer has weakened during the downturn. They may have kept their job, but feel disillusioned by how their employer managed them. As such they are now considering their options.
But here is the catch; you are not the only organisation hiring. You have competition. So, it really does go back to what we said above. Have you reviewed processes and suppliers? Have you sought to identify and solve the issues that contributed to why you are having to rebuild your team? The sharper your employer branding, the better your offering, the greater your communication then the better your chances of success.
If your work with a recruitment agency (new or longstanding), you must brief them effectively on expectations and what you are seeking. Don’t rely on a conversation you had 12 months ago. The world has changed significantly as have your requirements. I frequently deal with clients who can only give me half a brief. Actually, that’s okay! My job is to interrogate the brief, kick it around and help the client fill in the blanks. Even better is to discuss the entire recruitment and onboarding process and see what the recruitment agency thinks and suggests.
A skilled recruiter will be able to work with you to define the job spec and identify the behaviours you require from candidates. They should have access to multiple channels and be capable of finding suitable candidates in a timely fashion. In short – a skilled recruiter should be filling your organisation with ‘Rock Stars’ that will propel the business forward and to new heights.
As the client you need to express clearly what your timelines are and what you budget is. Your recruitment agency needs to tell you what is achievable and what is not. That is the thing about working in partnership, it requires honesty from both parties!
Recruitment after an economic downturn is not necessarily easier than at any other point in the year. In many cases your recruitment priorities will have changed and you need to adapt. The work you do in advance of hitting the new economic world will be priceless. It will make the difference between those that leap out of the starting gate and wrestle new commercial opportunities to the ground and those left floundering in the dust.
About the Author
Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (a recruitment agency with offices in Aldershot and Brighton that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and beyond). Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade. He has a degree and a masters in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.