Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

How should recruiters respond to Covid-19?

In these unprecedented times, recruitment businesses are swiftly reviewing their strategies, adapting day-to-day processes, reworking client and candidate communications and trying to form some stability and new modus operandi.

We’ve been quickly learning and adapting too over the last couple of weeks, and will continue to do so as the situation continues to evolve. Speaking to our clients about the impact on them, here’s our thoughts on some common questions and themes.

Adapting communications

What do your stakeholders - whether clients, candidates or staff - want to hear at this time? Has their consumption of content now changed? Understandably the shift has been to hard news dominated by Covid-19 and business survival, as the former hot topics of AI, diversity and inclusion and compliance are overshadowed for now.

Most recruitment professionals, already prolific social media users, have upped the ante on these platforms to keep up to speed with breaking news and collaborate with colleagues whilst working remotely.

You’ve likely also witnessed a rapid increase in helpful and supportive news from trusted partners and peers – providing both light-hearted entertainment and practical support. More eyes on social channels means more opportunity to serve up content to your audiences.

Communication to your existing clients is likely the priority, but requires a shift in tone of voice. Your clients will want to know what’s staying the same versus what’s changed. The best external communications should continue to align to your brand story – the current climate does not alter that. But the focus on adding value, offering guidance and support is even more critical.  Your staff will want reassurance. Whether communicating with staff, candidates or clients make sure your messaging aligns with the measures you are actually taking and follow through.

Marketing and advertising strategy

Whilst tempting to cut budget on marketing and advertising when times are tough, as highlighted in Harvard Business Review’s Seize Advantage in a Downturn, maintaining spend will serve you well. 

“Companies that injudiciously slash marketing spending often find that they later must spend far more than they saved in order to recover from their prolonged absence from the media landscape.”

Staying agile

Many of our clients are trying to deal with changes hour by hour, across branches, sectors, regions and countries – all of which will be impacted differently with varying guidance. Keeping up to speed and remaining informed and agile is key.

Consider setting up an internal taskforce with representatives that span your business. Have regular calls to understand business decisions with a private dedicated online area for storing and sharing important documents. Online war rooms for scenario planning could also be worthwhile.

Life on the other side

Yes these are extraordinary times, but they are also temporary. The here and now needs to be tackled, but consider how your business will look when some form of normality resumes. When client demand returns in the sectors most heavily impacted will you have a talent pool ready to fulfil this demand? Employers will have even less time to hire candidates, so talent pipelining now will pay dividends down the line.

And given that travel will be avoided for the foreseeable future, it’s timely to consider candidates from further afield. Businesses are likely to be more open to long-distance remote working now and in the future.

Embracing remote working

Businesses around the globe have been catapulted into the world of remote working. On a positive note, companies that support remote work report higher success with remote workers on average being 13.5% more productive, 9% more engaged and 50% less likely to quit.

Critical to success will be how you can put in place the right systems as fast as possible. From tech for staff messaging, document sharing, video interviewing, candidate match and placement and candidate screening, to technology that reports KPIs, motivates and engages remote teams by allowing colleagues and managers to give shout-outs and reward one another.

Unsurprisingly many of our clients still using an on premise CRM have asked us to help them migrate to a cloud based recruitment CRM. Fortunately we can get consultants up and running in a matter of days with minimal downtime, supported by remote training and online support.

Helping consultants transition to work virtually

Switching from an energetic office environment to working remotely may be a considerable shift for some of your team. After a little time to settle in, it is a skill that can be learned with the right leadership, communication and support and there is no shortage of hints and tips and helpful guides for those taking their first steps into remote working life.

Driving productivity and efficiency

It may be necessary to review expectations of your team's productivity. Focus on output and results rather than simply the hours put in. And communicate your expectations clearly to consultants so they know any change to expectations. Depending on your sector and your candidate demands, does the focus now need to switch? In quiet times should your consultants build and nurture talent pools for when demand inevitably picks up? Or use the time for personal learning and development?

For those agencies whose business is booming, now is the time to remove as much distraction as possible – eliminate manual tasks, reduce admin and activity that doesn’t add value.  Your consultants need to focus on clients and candidates. Any software which automates tasks, streamlines processes and removes manual activity is worth the investment to free up valuable time.

Educating and training staff virtually

There’s no shortage of online courses and resources available and many in easy to consume video format.  Learning through competitive gameplay can be particularly helpful when needing to educate on drier topics such as the upcoming IR35 changes, Health and Safety information or Right to Work requirements.

If your consultants have more time on their hands, is now the time to consider getting them to brush up on their skills in candidate sourcing, interviewing tips, client management or leadership and high performance – all of which can be done digitally. 

If you’d like to speak to us about getting your consultants up and running remotely, keeping them engaged, tracking their performance, training staff virtually or where to start if you’re reviewing your technology stack, get in touch. We welcome your thoughts.