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How Will the Second Lockdown Affect Recruitment?

  • by: Adam Coath
  • On: 4, Nov 2020
6 min read

Claiming the lives of over 46,000 UK citizens and over 1 million worldwide as of 2nd November 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has wrought destruction across families, businesses and communities globally.

The UK Government announced 1million total cases at the end of October, with cases roughly doubling every week, and a four-fold increase on the highest peak in cases back in April this year. With reports that some hospitals across the country are already becoming overwhelmed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a second month-long period of shutting down all but essential work, travel and ways of life.

Here are four ways that the second nationwide shutdown will affect, influence and potentially improve recruitment strategies.

How the Second Lockdown Will Affect Hiring Strategies 

1. Client-Led Jobs Market

Prior to Spring 2020, skills shortages had dominated most industries, and recruitment was a candidate-led market. In 2018 42% of Aerospace and Aviation leaders were experiencing a pressing lack of staff, which when combined with Boeing’s forecasts that the global demand for pilots would double in the next seven years suggested a rapidly increasing demand for talent. The Engineering sector reported a need to train 1.8 million people by 2025 to fulfil labour demands, with more than one in five leaders more concerned about workforce gaps than any other issue.

However, the unemployment tidal wave created by Covid-19 has radically upended the market across sectors and levels. In March more than 60,000 freelancers and contractors in Britain lost employment contracts overnight, and over the Spring almost 10million employees were furloughed on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The average number of applicants for one role has skyrocketed to 250, evidencing a fast-growing interest in new employment across sectors and levels.

Chief Executive Officer of job board CV-Library, Lee Biggins, comments: ‘On average, our clients’ jobs receive around 25 applications per vacancy, so these figures really are massive. The job market has done a complete 180, so, while companies may have struggled to recruit before the pandemic, they’re now being bombarded with applications from professionals who are desperate for a new job.

‘Of course, this is good news for companies that are recruiting, but it does mean you need a robust hiring process which enables you to easily monitor applications, screen applicants and make the right hires, quickly and effectively.’

Employers who have previously struggled to recruit new staff members are likely to experience greater success, with greater interest in entry-level and historically less popular roles. Companies will also see a higher number of direct approaches from applicants and more creative job applications and interview techniques as candidate attempt to stand out from the crowd and go a step further in securing their next job.


2. Flexibility Serving as an Attractive Benefits

Technology will also enable your business to better support the work/life balance of new and existing employees. Flexible working has been found to increase productivity by 30%, and increasing staff happiness levels will sow the seeds for greater number of referrals, enabling your organisation to engage new talent pools for whom work/life balance is an attractive benefit.

Whilst enforced office closures surprised many business leaders, remote working has given the workforce a new lease of life. A November 2020 survey reported that more than 80% of workers want to continue working from home in some capacity in the future. Employees believe they are more productive without noise and distractions, save hours every day and thousands of pounds a year that they would have spent commuting, and are able to dedicate much more time to physical and mental health through sleep, exercise, cooking healthy food and spending time with loved ones.

In the next decade Generation Z, individuals born between the mid-1990s and mid-200s, will be the fast-growing and eventually the majority demographic in workplaces around the world. Having grown up a globalised world with information at their fingertips and multiple choices part of their everyday lives, employees in this group are much more likely to change jobs frequently, with around 20 different jobs in their lifetime. Flexible work options such as adaptable work hours and home working will be increasingly popular with this demographic: the fastest-growing companies will capitalise on this recruitment trend by offering and promoting flexible working styles to younger talent pools.

In addition to reaching younger applicants, increased flexibility around candidate’s schedules, family and caring responsibilities, disabilities and health requirements can open up opportunities to a wider pool of candidates than ever before. Remote working will empower any company anywhere in the world to hire the best talent from the other side of the globe and harness new skills like never before. Flexible interviews will accommodate previously untapped groups or demographics, such as single parents, carers and those with disabilities, and make it easier for them to apply to work with you.

3. More Transparent Recruitment Process

Employer brands and communication, both internal and external, will become of pivotal importance following the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite a candidate-led market, applicants will continue to seek employment with a company whose values they believe closely match their own, and will be increasingly led in their application processes by positive candidate experiences and perceptions of potential employers. Companies that prioritise the working experience of existing employees and the hiring experience for new employees – and those that promote their activities and successes in this area – will develop a positive employer brand that proactively attracts quality talent pools.

Since March 2020, thousands of new hires have been sourced, interviewed and onboarded entirely remotely, which has required a high level of trust and respect between manager and direct reports, in addition to constant communication. The struggles of the pandemic have refocused priorities and relationships between senior and junior employees, and shed new light onto employee engagement and productivity. In the coming years, the recruitment process will benefit from a necessary transparency into the hiring process, requiring greater input from applicants themselves and relying more on collaboration and candidate experience than assessment and layers of managerial feedback.

4. Diversity

The pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse groups in society, with female, BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) employees more likely to have been furloughed or lost employment opportunities; women alone were 1.8 times more likely to lose their job than men. Whilst this news is a disappointing setback for diversity and inclusion across the UK, the current employment situation presents an opportunity to hire far greater numbers of diverse applicants.

Despite many innovative and popular initiatives to improve diversity, the Engineering and Technical industries have been slow to advance the careers of minority groups in recent years:

  • The International Society of Women Airline Pilots reports that only 5% of pilots worldwide are female – female representation in Aviation has only risen by 1.5% in the past 60 years
  • Just 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female
  • Despite encompassing over 14% of the UK’s population, only 6% of UK engineers across the industrial sectors are from BAME backgrounds.

The dramatic shift in the make-up of the unemployed talent pools will see more varied longlists and shortlists. Whilst previously diverse applicants had experienced barriers to employment from the unconscious biases of hiring managers (such as names that were perceived not to be of British origin) HR departments will fast become familiar with much higher numbers of applications from minority groups.

This shift should help to pave the way for those whose talent has previously not been given a seat at the table, and support diverse applicants in obtaining new roles that fully utilise their skills and experience like never before.

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