The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on recruitment in the immediate and mid-term, but how will it change the industry in the long run?
The global health crisis is far from over.
Tentative measures to ease social distancing are being piloted around the world, but the outlook over even a six-month horizon remains vague at best.
Already, however, lessons have been learned from the coronavirus outbreak, and the impact on industry and the economy has been severe.
The last few months have seen recruitment businesses scrambling to adjust, and – in many cases – stay afloat.
For business owners, it has been (and continues to be) a desperately complex tightrope-walking act – balancing conflicting factors including costs, capacity, structure, team morale and employee wellbeing.
And, while the focus continues to be on short-term survival, it’s worth considering how the pandemic will change the industry in the long-term.
When ‘normal’ returns, what will it look like, and how will recruitment have changed?
Accelerated pace of change
One of the most striking features of recent months has been the ability of businesses around the globe to switch to new working models almost overnight to accommodate the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
From the skyrocketing popularity of Zoom meetings across the office world to a sudden adoption of e-commerce and online delivery across thousands of traditionally ‘brick and mortar’ sectors, companies have shape-shifted in the blink of an eye in order to continue trading.
Though, without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to foresee the shape or scope of any future business disruption beyond the current pandemic, one thing that the crisis has made clear is that digital technology is a game-changer in giving companies a powerful new set of tools to adjust to change quickly and implement new systems faster than ever before.
This creates a new set of challenges and opportunities for recruiters, as well as highlighting market sectors with spiking demand to support modern digital-first business models.
A new approach to talent
This rapid change in the business landscape has been keenly reflected in the recruitment sector, with remote interviewing, hiring and onboarding seeing a sharp rise.
Companies who have continued to hire throughout the crisis have been forced to rethink their talent strategies, integrating new hires into their organizations without the traditional steps of in-person meetings, evaluation days or bedding-in programs.
This has driven an explosion of creativity in the way applicants can be effectively screened and tested virtually, along with similar innovation in onboarding and remote training.
Though the long-term success of these initiatives has yet to be proven by the companies taking them up for the first time, the experiment has certainly demonstrated that physical distance is no longer an impenetrable barrier to adding talent.
And, with this obstacle lifted, employers have access to a wider pool of talent than when commuting distances were a dominant constricting factor.
If the remote model sticks, it could re-write the rules on hiring for millions of jobs, shaking up established recruitment networks like nothing before.
Whether it does stick, however, or whether employers revert quickly to an on-site employment model, remains to be seen.
Agility is everything
From the recruitment agency perspective, many of these lessons also apply.
Recruitment companies, like those of any other sector, have had to move quickly to stay in business.
Famously wary of work-from-home models, agency owners have had their hands forced by circumstances, and are placing their trust in remote teams to deliver without the support of in-office management.
A similar story is unfolding on the hiring front, with flexible working models giving ambitious agencies the chance to add talent not necessarily within the immediate vicinity of their HQ.
But, most significantly for agencies, the need to stay agile has been highlighted by the upheaval.
Businesses deeply and exclusively rooted in a single (and potentially vulnerable) market sector have felt the impact most strongly, unable to pivot quickly enough with their tools and resources to exploit other revenue opportunities.
Similarly, companies ill-equipped to operate via digital platforms have found the adjustment painful and disruptive.
With customers now able to shift and pivot their own businesses faster than ever before, the onus is on agencies to evolve their technology and working patterns to keep pace – and those who do will reap the rewards in the year ahead.
Voyager Infinity and Voyager Mid-Office are software solutions that make Recruiters’ lives easier. Voyager Infinity is a CRM used by thousands of recruiters globally to source, nurture and maintain the relationships with their clients and candidates, and Mid-Office manages the entire Pay and Bill process (IR35 ready).