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How the Coronavirus could impact your recruitment

Allen Associates, News & Blog

We are in an unprecedented situation, the likes of which many of us will have never seen in our lifetimes ever before, and hopefully, never will again. Whilst the immediate impact of COVID-19, the strain of the coronavirus which has shocked the world, may carry on for many months yet, there will be long-term implications for businesses around the world when it comes to recruitment.

Many businesses may be considering halting their recruitment strategies whilst they wait for the eye of the storm to pass, whilst others (especially those deemed essential work), have been forced to launch immediate recruitment campaigns to cope with exceptional demand.

With this in mind, we wanted to share our insights into how we think the coronavirus might impact recruitment over the coming months.

Adapting to change – short-term vs long-term solutions

We believe that when it comes to recruitment, companies will have to make immediate decisions about short-term and long-term solutions.

Whilst many businesses have followed the government directive to work from home where possible, others have had to temporarily close. This has understandably led to growing concern about the sustainability of the UK economy – so it’s wise for businesses to take a flexible approach with the ability to adapt between short-term and long-term strategies.

Last month, the Office for National Statistics revealed that between December 2019 and February 2020 there were an estimated 817,000 vacancies in the UK. Whilst it’s too early to predict the lasting impact of coronavirus upon recruitment, we can be confident that different professions may need to adopt different strategies to cope.

For instance, in the short term, we might see more HR vacancies as teams may need additional resources to cope with the administrative cost of implementing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We could also anticipate that more senior-level PR and marketing positions could become available because effective communications (both internal and external) will become more important than ever before.

These roles could be on short-term contracts to provide additional resources, or they could be temporary cover to help companies cope with staff absences caused by self-isolation or sickness.

Looking to the future

Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that we will now be entering a a very difficult global economy and that many businesses will be forced to make job losses and redundancies.

The way that we work may change – with organisations embracing remote working following convincing evidence that it can work effectively. More businesses may incorporate flexible working practices and this could be seen as an opportunity for employers.

For example, if remote working has been successful, you may be able to cast a wider geographical net for potential candidates. If they do not have to factor in commuting time, you could welcome remote workers from other areas in the country, giving you greater access to highly experienced and talented candidates.

With expected redundancies, you may also anticipate a larger talent pool to choose from. With more candidates than ever before, you could find your selection processes are much harder. In which case, you may wish to take a flexible approach to your recruitment strategies – for instance, rather than hire one specific person, you could consider the possibility of job shares. This would allow you to benefit from the specific skills and expertise of multiple candidates, giving you greater scope to adjust in the future as markets recover.

Making the most of remote hiring capabilities

The recruitment sector has had to adjust immediately to the changes caused by coronavirus and (at the time of writing) employers will have to rely on remote hiring strategies to find new staff for the foreseeable future.

“Recruiters in areas that have so far been hardest hit by COVID-19 have increasingly turned to online communication tools to avoid face-to-face meetings where possible. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams are being used both to communicate with clients and to interview and ‘meet’ with candidates.”

Source: UK Recruiter

The proliferation and ease of video conferencing have seen demand for free technology soar. For companies who wish to continue recruiting, tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are simple for members of your hiring panel to use, whilst reducing any unnecessary face-to-face contact. The popularity of these technologies has led to the creation of virtual background templates that can be used with your corporate branding to replicate your office environment – aiding to the professionalism of your remote hiring activities.

Of course, if you wish to show your company as a fun, creative environment you could take advantage of the Disney/Pixar backdrops! We’re sure a few creative agencies would love to use these for team calls!

To further support remote hiring capabilities, the UK government has temporarily adjusted right to work checks for employers to enable them to make swift recruitment decisions. This means that employers can continue to make stringent checks to ensure that any new recruits are fully compliant and ready to work.

Increase in temporary and contract work

Over the coming months, we anticipate that the majority of recruitment will move from permanent employment to temporary or contract work. In the short-term, this could boost the economy and keep businesses afloat with new skills.

Whilst many businesses may have traditionally preferred to focus on permanent employees, it is clear that temporary staff will play a huge role in the coming months. Many businesses may be reluctant to invest long-term due to uncertainty over the economy. However, choosing to implement short-term staffing resources can assist with immediate cover and strategic support whilst giving the flexibility to choose how long the work is needed.

You may find that more candidates will be open to the lure of short-term contracts, particularly those who may have been impacted by redundancies. They will be looking for opportunities to showcase their skills and expertise and may be more flexible about taking on temporary work or fixed-term contracts. Additionally, the freelance sector will remain buoyant, giving you additional scope to tap into external support as and when you may need it.

Making the most of transferrable sectors

We’ve already seen that many industries are at risk of crashing completely; the travel and hospitality sectors have been hit hard by the impact of coronavirus and there are serious concerns about their ability to recover. However, these employees may have valued skills that can boost your working practices. For example, the NHS has actively targeted airline staff from EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic with clinical experience, first aid training, and security clearances to help set up the temporary hospitals.

We believe that now more than ever, hiring managers will start to think creatively about how to use capability and transferrable skills rather than focusing on specific qualifications (where appropriate). This could lead to more candidates than ever before choosing to switch careers and bring something new to different sectors.

At Allen Associates, our message is clear – we are here to work alongside clients to help you continue to find the most appropriate recruitment solutions throughout this challenging time. To find out how we can help, please get in touch.

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