For those looking to recruit this summer, June 21st 2021 will not mark the end of all the major challenges posed by Covid-19. The pandemic has caused a huge rise in unemployment as well as forcing a large majority of the UK population into the Furlough scheme in replacement of work. But when the country returns to normal, these consequences will not simply be reversed; they have had their own knock-on effects. Here, we consider what the future could look like for recruiters and some of the ways in which you can overcome this new set of challenges.

Loss of Existing Staff

The pandemic caused a significant drop in business for the vast majority of companies. As a result of this they could no longer afford to pay their employees who, instead, relied on the government’s Furlough scheme for financial support and ceased carrying out their roles. Less fortunate companies were forced to close or reduce their size significantly, meaning that employees faced redundancy in huge numbers.

The British workforce had to find new sources of income to replace what they had lost, in fact 25% more workers than previously estimated needed to switch occupations. For some, this has resulted in some positive new ventures. In many cases, this has opened eyes to a new way of living and working, for example, many have chosen to become self-employed in industries less likely to suffer in the face of future pandemics. As a result, many companies are finding that the employees they placed on Furlough, are not always willing to return to work.

Similarly, those forced into reduced hours of work or a reduced income have learned how to manage on less, and find fulfilment elsewhere. They are now choosing to continue following this new, less intensive lifestyle. They also may have agreed to new commitments which they wouldn’t have been able to consider under normal circumstances, such as providing child-care for grandchildren. All of these factors contribute to the fact that there is now much higher demand for new employees as we return to normality.

Skill Shortage

Despite the fact your demand for new employees is on the rise, the balance is still in your favour as the mass unemployment caused by the effects of Covid-19 results in even greater demand for job vacancies. However, a consequence of this heightened demand is the likelihood of receiving applications from underqualified applicants.

Furthermore, thanks to the restrictions placed on educational establishments during the pandemic, the chances of receiving applications from qualified graduates or any form of trained practitioner are significantly reduced. Even those already trained by your company and returning to their roles may be in need of a refresher course, having lost momentum and knowledge through lack of practice.

Another reason why employers might be challenged by a skill shortage, is because of a change in the kind of skills you require. Workplaces have been forced to digitise in order to enable more flexibility in the face of a ban on in-person communication. As a result, employees have had to adjust and learn new skills. Companies having to replace employees may find that there is a lack of adequate digital ability in applicants.

Digitised Recruitment and Training Processes

While you may be thinking that a number of these challenges can be overcome by providing your own training to new employees, it’s important to consider the setbacks you might experience in this endeavour. There is still a significant number of restrictions in place to ensure that we do not see another rise in cases of Covid-19, including those based around social distancing. As a result, any kind of face to face communication between employers and employees must be kept to a minimum.

While you could get around this with the help of technology, for example, by carrying out the training of new recruits remotely using software like Zoom or Skype, consider the quality of training that could realistically be given in this way. What challenges could you come across, for example, how easy would it be to communicate complex problem solving, or explain complicated software? For many employers, the lack of ability to deliver adequate training poses a real challenge when it comes to recruitment.

Similarly, being restricted to online interviews and assessment centres only gives you a much-reduced opportunity to gauge the attributes of applicants. They are limited in what they can show you and you are limited in what you can ask for. It can also be more difficult to ascertain how genuine the impression that the candidate is presenting of themselves is.

Challenges Faced by New Employees

As well as the challenges that have evolved from the temporary and permanent ceasing of employment for many people during the pandemic,  a number of others have evolved from the threat of Covid-19 itself.  

As an employer, don’t be surprised by a rise in demand on your HR team as you introduce existing and new employees into your team. The return to normality carries its own set of challenges for many people. For example, those who have become accustomed to staying indoors with limited access to other people are likely to take time to adjust to hectic surroundings once more. The threat of Covid-19 is not yet completely over, and there are many who still fear its impact on their health, particularly as they start to enter heavily populated work environments again.

As well as helping your employees through these anxiety triggers, it is important that you step up your approach to cleanliness in the workplace in order to help them feel more at ease, as well as follow government guidelines when it comes to social distancing. Lastly, the traumatic experience of losing your job or part of your income has been felt by many in the past year. For those returning to work, the possibility of this happening again won’t be far from their minds, so be sure to exercise an open-door policy when it comes to concerns of this nature.

Requests for Flexible Working

After more than a year of working from home, many new employees may begin to expect a level of flexible working to be offered as part of their employment with you. In fact, 20% of workers would like to continue working from home full-time, while the average preference is 2 out of 5 days in the office. . There are many benefits to this new way of working for both employee and employer, but it takes time and investment to set up the necessary structures that would enable you to offer this option.

You may see a number of employees choosing to self-isolate should they feel unsafe in their working environment, while others will take the responsible route of self-isolation if they experience symptoms of Covid-19. Is your company set up for these eventualities? It is important to also be aware of your financial responsibilities as an employer in the face of Covid-19 related sick leave and compassionate leave when taking on new recruits during this time.

Unpredictable Business

Finally, planning a recruitment drive is a daunting prospect when it’s so hard to predict the route that your business is going to take back to normality. You don’t want to make a significant investment in a new staff body but see no return when it takes longer than predicted to reach normal levels of business. However, should your company recover faster than expected, you don’t want to be underprepared and miss out on opportunities through a shortage of staff.

What’s the Answer?

We’ve given you an idea of what to expect and consider when planning out your route back to pre-pandemic prosperity, but how can you overcome some of these challenges? Luckily we have the answer; outsourcing to third party companies is the perfect fall-back during this unusual and unpredictable time. Not to mention the fact the top reason for outsourcing is cost reduction (70%) at a time when the vast majority of businesses are in financial recovery, outsourcing gives you access to the staff you need when you need it, without the commitment. 

You can outsource a wide range of business operations, for example, Cymphony provides call-handlers, live chat operators and virtual personal assistants. You don’t need to worry about a skill shortage or sifting through endless applications from underqualified applicants, as you benefit from their body of ready-trained and experienced professionals. This also removes the challenge of digitised recruitment and training altogether! The range of new problems that will come with an in-house team, such as a thorough sterilisation process and increased demand on HR are eradicated when you’re benefitting from a remote staff body instead.

While outsourcing means relying on remote employees, the difficulties that come with this change of circumstances are taken care of by the provider, allowing you to benefit from a simple line of communication with a single representative. And finally, outsourcing is endlessly flexible, with temporary contracts that allow you to match the needs of your business no matter how it is performing. So, rather than trying to tackle all of these challenges at once, give yourself some breathing space by outsourcing while things return to normal, without missing out on the opportunity to begin watching your business grow again.


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