Recruiting in a crisis: how to make it work

We’re now five months into the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the effect of the crisis on levels of employment has been catastrophic. Last week, The Guardian reported that the number of people in paid employment has plummeted by 650,000 since March. In Manchester, a restaurant reported receiving nearly 1,000 applications for a receptionist post within 24 hours.

If you’re in the fortunate position to be able to grow your team, it’s a genuine privilege. For employers, this treasure trove of talented professionals is fantastic, but it places a huge responsibility on us as business leaders and HR professionals. How can we identify the right person, with the right skillset, for the right job? The pressure is on. So, how can we achieve this?

Widen your net
This is where there are tangible, meaningful benefits when we cast our net wider, and tap into non-mainstream pools of talent. Now is the time to adopt a more progressive approach to our hiring practices. An agile workforce that’s fit for the rigours, and uncertainties of the future, needs diversity in all its forms: employees from BAME communities, different ages, disabilities, educational backgrounds, genders… Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but if a business is to survive, it needs a depth and breadth of expertise. This also means rethinking your equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, to ensure your workplace is free from barriers – intentional or not.

For example, if your recruitment is done in-house, take some time to ensure you’re doing all you can to attract applications from a diverse talent pool: does the role absolutely need to be done during the traditional 9-5 working day, or can you offer flexibility on hours? Are you focusing on productivity and outputs? Is it fully remote/ office-based role, or can you offer a mixture of both? Is your job advert explicitly inclusive? Does it contain any hidden/unconscious barriers to candidates? Do you need to make any adjustments to ensure those with disabilities aren’t put off?

There are also some brilliant agencies and jobs boards out there, disrupting the world of traditional recruitment. The CC team have first-hand experience of this: in the last few weeks we’ve hired our new Head of Marketing, and we’re in the process of recruiting a Head of Operations. 

We approached 2to3Days to help us and were genuinely blown away by the number of high-quality applications we received. Juliet and her team have long been champions of non-mainstream talent, and attract capable, motivated professionals who would be an asset to any organisation. They have built an enviable candidate base: 82% have 10+ years’ experience, 32% have a Masters or PhD, and 40% have Senior Management experience. You can’t argue with that! The innovative, refreshing approach of 2to3Days, and others like them (Inclusive Recruiting, Bame Recruitment are just a few others in the mix), is clear proof that employers must keep pace with people’s personal priorities and commitments, and embrace inclusivity in all its forms if they are to enhance their workforce over the coming months. It would be heartening to see more recruitment agencies follow 2to3Days’ quiet revolution as we emerge from this pandemic.

Shifting sands
The working landscape is now almost unrecognisable from 12 months ago. We’re heading into the last half of the year against a backdrop of a semi-remote work force, furloughed staff, reduced working hours/pay, endless redundancies, and the catastrophic financial implications of lockdown. People need to work. They WANT to work. But for many, their lives have changed. The altered financial and/or family commitments of many employees means that increasingly, people are attracted to roles with flexibility and inclusivity. If businesses haven’t yet had a rethink in their approach to recruiting, then 2020 is surely the time. The diversity of your team will positively impact how innovative you are, and how relevant you are to your diverse consumer/client community. Creating a culture and environment where a truly diverse population can be themselves will allow people to perform at their best. When this happens, your team will maximise their contribution and impact.

Employers who are recruiting right now really need to work harder, smarter, adopt a flexible mindset, and let go of the status quo.

Are you recruiting during the pandemic? How have you found it? Are you thinking about refreshing your equality, diversity and inclusion strategy (ED&I)? Or perhaps you need help with training and implementation of ED&I policies? We’d love to chat about where your business is at now.