The coronavirus pandemic has hit many businesses hard, affecting retail, hospitality, tourism and events industries particularly badly. Many businesses have been forced to close or cut back to a few key staff. A YouGov survey in 2020 found that half of businesses said they would have to lay off staff within three months of the furlough scheme ending. Just 34 per cent of 503 business leaders polled said they would not get rid of anyone, while 21 per cent said they would have to cut 10 or more jobs.
But as we come out of all this and the economy opens up again, companies will have to resume business as usual. Many will have little or no staff to fill key roles and will have to recruit quickly. Alan Jenkins, MD of exhibition stand designer Quadrant2Design sums up the worry that many business owners currently have ‘We know we will need to hire in all departments over the coming months, but we don’t exactly know when and how well our industry will return, so every decision requires careful planning’.
So, when is the best time to recruit? Doing it too soon will risk having staff with little to do, but taking too long could jeopardise the running of the business. It will take time to train new teams of staff. If existing staff are over-stretched then customer service and ability to fulfil requirements will be impacted. This could damage the reputation of your business, just when you need to make the most of new opportunities.
The steps you take now will be crucial to coming out on top post pandemic. Things to consider when setting a recruitment strategy:
- Recognise the skills gap in your business
Now is the time to look at the skills gaps you have across the business. Assessing these will allow you to streamline the recruitment process and identify specific gaps. This will ensure that you’re making the correct hire technically as well as culturally. It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to grow quickly, without any real regard as to how you’ll do that sustainably.
- Can you upskill internally?
Do you need to recruit someone completely new or can you find a candidate from within the business? Defining that can take some time, ask yourself the following questions before hiring someone new:
- Are the requirements going to take longer than 3 months for my team to learn?
- Are the requirements too niche/technical?
- Are the requirements permanent or temporary?
- Will I/my team be over-stretched if we take on this responsibility together?
If you find that you’re answering “yes” to more than two of these questions, then it’s probably time to start writing a job description.
- Re-assess your interview process
Behavioural interviews are defined as “a technique used in which the candidate has the opportunity to demonstrate their potential for succeeding in the new role, by providing specific examples of how they handled similar situations based on their past experience”
A lot of interviews are based on technical skill and cultural fit, but these are only surface level assessments. Using behavioural interview techniques will not only allow you to understand your candidate pool better, but also give you an insight into how the individual deals with challenges.
Another step that can improve your recruitment process is psychometric testing, also known as aptitude tests. The benefit these have is that there’s no right or wrong answer; it allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the individual being interviewed, as certain tests can reveal how they like to be managed, as well as behavioural style and mental capabilities.
- Onboarding and post-placement care
Your recruitment process shouldn’t cease when a candidate becomes an employee. Post-placement care is vital to ensuring that your new employee feels included and can settle in with ease. What does your candidate experience currently look like? This is especially important if your staff are working remotely.
How can you improve and adapt it? Knowing where to start can be difficult.
- Ask your current employees what they think the candidate experience would be if they were to join the business now.
- Ask candidates during an interview process what their expectations are so you can get an insight into how they think.
Post-Covid, recruitment and training are going to be major issues for many companies. Businesses may have survived the past year with just a few key staff. Training teams of new employees will take time and money. You may be lucky enough to rehire experienced staff or bring them back from furlough. But if you’re starting from scratch you will need a strategy in place.