Have we used our time wisely during lockdown?
Lockdown has impacted all types of organisation. Unlike large corporates, small businesses such as recruitment agencies often don’t have large cash reserves. They are run by people who rely on the agency being successful to pay their mortgages and other bills. And whose clients have personal relationships with them and, in turn, rely on the agency to help support their own businesses. So being restricted to home has been challenging for recruiters all over the country.
As we start to think about how we will emerge from a restricted life to something more resembling normality in 2021, it’s worth taking a minute to think about how wisely we spent our lockdown time.
We’re not here to judge, of course – if you spent the summer in your PJs binge watching Netflix then that’s fine. But talking to some of our clients, they took lockdown as an opportunity to look at things afresh. Here are some of the ways that we’ve heard about lockdown being spent.
Accelerating digital transformation
Rather than taking a back seat to the usual business activity, lockdown was the ideal time to think about the technology you need to run your agency. Indeed, it was forced upon us as, overnight, we went from meeting people face to face to Zoom. We suddenly found that a laptop balanced on our laps wouldn’t hack it when we were working from home day in day out. The surge in the purchase of laptops, webcams and other collaboration technology is sure evidence that this was a focus for many organisations.
Conducting an agency review
With a slowdown in enquiries, there’s been the perfect opportunity to review your agency. Many owners have reassessed their strategies and processes, and have adapted to the current situation by, for example, looking at remote interviewing or using AI to streamline some of the processes. Many have taken the opportunity to review their websites and ensure that it truly reflects their offering to the market, and to step back and look at their marketing, to challenge whether it’s working and look at what changes might be needed.
Upskill and cross-train the team
With more hours available to us in lockdown days, some agency owners took the opportunity to retrain their teams and update their respective skills. Bringing more junior team members up to speed with training was a good use of time, and cross-training team members to be multi-skilled has also been a theme we’ve seen. The thinking here is that should another crisis hit, the team will be more agile, and the owner able to redeploy people quickly to adapt to changing circumstances.
Keeping customers on side
Customer communication has been a tricky one. We’ve wanted to keep in touch and show support without being insensitive to difficult trading circumstances. The best examples have been where agencies have been human and honest in their communications. Customer journeys have been adapted for the changed climate with the focus on problem-solving for our clients. Delicate conversations have taken place with candidates who may have been on the verge of securing a position, only to find COVID has put a spanner in the works. Helping to keep them positive and motivated has been a key communication area for many recruiters.
Supporting the mental health of colleagues
Lockdown has affected people differently, and there is no doubt that the mental health of the nation has been negatively impacted. Many recruiters have told us of their concerns for their own teams and the measures, such as regular check-ins, that they have taken to help them.
We think that those agencies who have taken control of the situation as much as they could will be well placed to hit the ground running once the threat of the pandemic starts to recede.
But if you haven’t been able to do this as yet, there’s still time. With talk of ‘normality’ returning in the Spring of 2021, you have three months to get your agency primed and ready to take advantage of the new opportunities that are sure to come next year. We may yet look back on 2020 as the catalyst for a more streamlined and efficient approach to the business of recruitment.