The horrific circumstances surrounding the global pandemic have inevitably changed the way all businesses are looking at processes and procedures, few have remained unchanged from March 2020 and most have made complete wholesale changes.
One of the biggest changes in all businesses has, obviously, surrounded staffing. Clearly the period from March through to end of September 2020 will be viewed eventually by HR Leaders, Recruiters and Business owners as the time when ‘Staffing’ changed, only time will tell whether it was for the better or the worse.
When on 20th March 2020 the UK government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme many of us got introduced to a new word; ‘Furlough’ and whether or not we consider it a successful scheme will rely primarily on a number of issues, some of which will not be realised for some time yet. However, with so many staff furloughed; at its height [August 16, 2020], approximately 9.6 million jobs, from 1.2 million different employers were furloughed in the United Kingdom, businesses had to consider so many variables: Whom to bring back, and when, who they could afford to keep, whom they actually wanted/needed to keep; and finally what was their personal business recovery plan?
Compound this with other businesses looking to recruit, either through expansion, business change or simply opportunity to do bring new talent into the company, recruitment became; almost overnight, a nightmare.
After 105 days of personal furlough, I found that the world I had known for 13 years, had gone and there was a new normal to learn.
Traditionally businesses recruit for three main reasons: they have had someone leave (headcount), they are looking to grow or expand the business in some way (growth) or they want to make a change within their business, be it a new division, sector, product or hierarchy (change).
COVID-Furlough presented a new option; given that in the UK as an average 30% of the workforce were at home, either home-schooling or watching re-runs of Cash In The Attic, for many sectors those not considered Essential or Key Workers, this number was abundantly higher, some as much as 80%, specifically: 78% of the workforce had been furloughed in businesses that had temporarily closed or had paused trading. For many businesses then this period presented the equivalent of the etch-a-sketch end, everything was shaken up and they were presented with a blank slate. They started to add in another reason to recruit, namely, is there anyone out there (furloughed or otherwise) better than those we have furloughed (choice).
So not only has the need (reasons) changed but the process.
Pre-COVID, the recruitment process was pretty defined: Need (from the three above) assessed, agreed and defined, Job Description created; Job Advertised, Agency appointed (frequently), candidates presented and selected, interviews arranged, offer made.
Post-COVID (albeit not quite yet 100%) all bets are off; the need, rather than being finite, is now a massive grey-area, often businesses might be only in the ‘choice’ category and this leads to a less than precise Job Description, with cryptic character traits, obscure skill sets and sometimes unfeasible time-served periods being desired; and this is before we get on to the process proper, the interview.
We all thought thanks to Apple’s Face-Time, Skype, Facebook Messenger Video call and WhatsApp Video call that the video-telephony market was already saturated, didn’t we? Step forward Zoom, with its ease of use, functionality and easily created scheduling and we have a new player in the online Interview market.
Zoom, during COVID Lock-down, became the go-to platform for friends, family and colleagues to stay in touch with each other, and soon it entered modern speech, often I was asked “to Zoom” someone, it had become a Verb almost seemingly overnight.
Preparing for an interview, both as interviewer and interviewee used to be easy, dress appropriately, understand the parameters of the role and chat. Now, there is a heady mix of interior designer (to get the setting right) and IT expert (to get everything working properly) involved, the pre-interview nerves replaced by a panic that the light is too bright or there is a wasp in the room and yes kids you need to turn Netflix off because Daddy needs all of the internet connection, right now!
It’s a brave new world.
We’ll all get the hang of this new world, we’ll move forwards and business will be better for it, just right now it’s an odd place for all of us.