It’s been four weeks since the Prime Minister put us in the UK under stricter instructions to stay at home. For most, that means you have just about completed a month of mandatory working from home. For others, your businesses enforced that rule a week or two before. Either way, we are all in the same boat and it seems that people are coming to terms with the new norm, for what could be a while longer.
We’ve all seen the articles and social media posts offering opinions on all sorts of topics; home set-ups, how to keep team morale and engagement high, remote onboarding, whether it’s ‘business-as-usual’ or not, whether organisations have made rash decisions to make cuts, and whether being furloughed is viewed as a positive, or not.
However, rather than engage in an opinion based commentary on this situation, I thought I would attempt to shed some light on what we have seen from a business standpoint across the Data & Analytics space, particularly across the North and Nordics, our specialist areas.
While some businesses are really prospering during these challenging times, fora lot of companies , business has taken a sharp downturn.
Across the North, a trend we have witnessed is projects / pieces of work already underway are still going ahead to completion. However, any piece of work that has yet to start has typically been pushed back and any new/proposed work that has yet to be signed off has been cancelled completely for the time being.
Consultancy and Advisory organisations are in the exact same boat as the above, and therefore the next 3 months doesn’t look too bad. However, the consensus is that the pipeline beyond that is dry and there is uncertainty around what the implications will be in 3+ months’ time.
The bigger firms which have a much more diverse offering seem to be less worried, it’s the boutiques that are showing genuine concern, but I am glad to say that I have not spoken to any of these smaller firms that are fearing the absolute worst.
Naturally, some sectors are coping much better than others, while a select few have actually done extremely well from this current crisis. Travel and Aviation are clearly the two sectors that have sadly been hit the hardest and organisations that service those sectors are expecting significant repercussions well into 2021.
Interestingly, in comparison to the UK, Sweden is carrying on as usual and the world seems to be turning as normal. There is no “lockdown” and pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and schools are still open.. I suppose, when nothing seems to have changed, that is reciprocated (for the most part) across the business landscape and it is very much business as usual – outside of the travel and aviation sectors of course.
Regardless of sector, we have seen a small handful of organisations take a blanket approach to recruitment and bring everything to a standstill. Some have even rescinded offers and/or pushed back start dates.
Other organisations are still actively recruiting and onboarding, and are going through the process completely remotely.
For the majority though, they are somewhere in between. This crisis is not economically driven, and while it is an issue of health, for business it’s often an issue of logistics - therefore, this isn’t necessarily about affordability.
That said, due to the lack of clarity and uncertainty surrounding the timescales that business revenues may be affected, naturally, many are concerned about the cashflow implications and/or the literal need to bring someone into the business.
Even some of the businesses that are doing extremely well off the back of this crisis are finding that they are too busy on the “frontline” to necessarily think about its Data & Analytics strategy just now.
Interestingly enough, while many organisations have decided to cut costs by getting rid of its contract workforce, others have looked at this as a suitable alternative to its staffing needs as it allows them to bring someone in to complete the required workload, without committing to a full-time hire (and any of the onboarding/training costs etc).
The Inevitable Boom
Regardless of how long it takes us to get there, it is inevitable that there will be a boom once we are past this. At that point, organisations will be playing catch-up to get talent sourced and onboarded as quickly as possible.
While for many, there is a “hiring freeze” the organisations that will fair the best at securing top-talent when the time comes, are those that have continued with the recruitment process and identified the people they want.
Everyone is aware that there is a logistical problem when it comes to onboarding, and while there are many organisations out there that are still hiring and willing to onboard remotely, for others this isn’t feasible. No one is saying you should be onboarding or even making offers, but there is nothing stopping you from getting talent through your process so you’re in prime position when the market returns.
The organisations that can hire now will have the pick of the talent because the competition is much lower than it normally is, in what is one of the most talent starved markets in the world.
Beyond that, those that want to hire but can’t and are still going through the recruitment process to identify their next hires will do very well also, as many companies have stopped the process and therefore have created a less competitive market.
The reality is, at the mid-senior level, most candidates have a 3 month notice period (possibly higher, depending on level) and the average recruitment process often takes circa 6-8 weeks (again depending upon seniority of the role) which means that we are talking about a potential 4-5 month timescale from starting the search to onboarding.
I think most are confident enough to say that within 4-5 months, most businesses will be back to work as normal.
So, in conclusion, my advice is line up your next 2,3, 4 hires, irrespective of whether you can give them a start date or not, don’t stop the process, instead, get them engaged and invested in your company and the opportunity. Afterall, while the majority of people are working remotely, they are generally more accessible and open to talking, so there has genuinely never been a better time to reach out to people.
Now is also a great time to instill confidence in you and your company, anyone who has not completely pulled out of the candidate acquisition market must be a company with solid foundations and confidence in their position. Don’t stop talking! Silence speaks volumes and a potential new hire will remember the companies who approach them during this time. So cease the opportunity, focus on your hiring pipeline and make sure you are In the best position when we are ‘business as usual’ again..