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We’re all human, didn’t you know?

Over the past month, I’ve had more authentic conversations with my contacts than ever before. I’ve found out their child’s favourite cereal, their home set ups (how many lofts have been ‘converted’ in the past month?), their exercise routines, the name of their dog and much, much more. Relationships I’ve had for years have become more intimate, more genuine – more human. Because we’re all bonded by what is going on around us. No one is unaffected; everyone is in it together. And we’ll all get through it together.

We’re learning to adjust incredibly quickly. Through my interactions with clients of all sizes and across different sectors, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn how the market has responded and how they have approached recruitment the past couple of weeks. Here are some observations.

1. Recruitment processes have adapted, fast

More than ever, companies need exceptional talent to get them through. We’ve seen businesses adapt incredibly quickly and make their recruitment processes virtual using video calls, psychometric testing, WhatsApp groups – we have even heard some clients say that augmented reality may become more common in their recruitment and onboarding processes.

Some companies are using the current climate as an opportunity to bring on board or pipeline talent that would in usual circumstances be harder to attract. Cash rich business and those with recurring revenues are in a particularly good position to be able do this, although we’ve also been instructed on a good number of new “critical hires” that don’t fall into those categories. When you consider that many candidates are on a 3-6 month notice period, starting the process now could be an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the competition and get ready to take advantage of the inevitable upturn.

Of course, some are a little apprehensive about accepting a role or offering a candidate without having met in person. To that end, showcasing your employer brand on your digital platforms is more important than ever. Post regularly on your social feeds, encourage your employees to leave Glassdoor reviews, stay connected with your employees, your customers, and your suppliers. If you’re a candidate looking for a new role, adopt a similar policy with your personal brand. The virtual world means that we need to get to know each other in different ways; your digital footprint is a key asset in this.

2. Onboarding is going ahead, even if not as initially planned!

Companies that are used to operating at a distance – such as those who work from home, with offshore teams, or with global and/or regional remits – have seen minimal disruption to onboarding. For those that aren’t as used to it, couriers have been kept busy ferrying around equipment and companies have adapted to onboarding remotely in a similar way to their recruitment processes.

But onboarding is, of course, more than getting that person up and running on a system. It’s about making the new hire feel part of the company and its culture. At Pure, we have regular video calls, virtual drinks and even had a virtual pub quiz. Many of our clients are doing the same and it’s this that will ensure onboarding is a success and that there is a sense of cohesion and company culture.

3. Interim and flexible workers are providing a solution

For companies with recruitment freezes, protracted permanent recruitment process, or those adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach, interims are providing the perfect solution. There are many contractors that are immediately available who are willing to be flexible on rate and work part time to help companies work within smaller budgets or tackle special projects.

For those already using contractors, extending these has proved a viable alternative. We’ve seen a number of clients committing to long term contract extensions (6-12 months) on their existing contractors to get them through this period, especially if permanent headcount has gone on hold.

4. Challenging times can allow us to grow and reset

We’ve spoken to clients and candidates in travel, insurance, and hospitality who despite everything have seen the positives. Whilst things are hard for their business, they’ve described the work that they are doing as fascinating, challenging, and rewarding – an excellent learning experience.

The situation we’ve found ourselves in means that we have to face up to things we might have been putting off and reassess what is a priority. I know that I have been able to cut through the noise much easier to focus on what is important for the business and my own career; I hope you’ve been able to do the same.

So, as the dust settles on a frenetic first four weeks of adapting at pace, things are hopefully starting to feel a little more settled and constructive.

If you’d like to talk to me or one of the team about your recruitment or onboarding process, your own career, the market in general, or just for a chat, please do get in touch.

We’re here to talk, but more importantly, we’re here to listen.

Ewen Burns
Head of Clients and Markets

So that we can continue to offer you market insights, we are conducting a survey on approaches to recruitment, employees and remote working. If you’d like to take part and get a copy of the results, please complete the survey here.