Disasters accelerate change
With the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is facing one of its biggest challenges. We’re all worried for our loved ones and our livelihoods. While all of this is happening, you have a business to navigate through this storm. Technology, business, society and culture are all making giant leaps. Shifts that would’ve taken years are now happening in a matter of weeks. What does all of this mean for the recruitment industry? At People Group Services, we make change work for you. And the next few months could fundamentally change recruitment forever. Here’s where we see it going.
The Government has injected a mind-boggling amount of money into the economy to keep us all going. But Rishi Sunak will want it back. When this is all over, we can expect HMRC to increase the level of rigour on every area of taxation. They’ll come down hard on non-compliance and look at how employers, recruiters and candidates are paid and taxed.
The furloughs, the bail outs, the loans, whilst welcome, will have to be paid back. IR35 hasn’t gone away and the VAT deferral scheme just kicks the can down the road. Now’s the time to look at every element of how you manage your finances. Just because you’ve always used Umbrella for payroll is that the most efficient way for your business?
A PEO product, for example, makes those VAT savings permanent. Clear every skeleton out of your closet. Lose any loopholes that may close in the future. We’ve seen so many agencies caught out by this in the past. When we come out of this, sailing close to the wind and turning a blind eye won’t cut it. Get ahead of the game or it could hurt.
Agencies have traditionally seen revenue generation through one lens – place more people. For a lot of recruiters that won’t be an option for a while.
Your ability to effectively manage the processes that underpin work like compliance (pre-employment background screening) and payroll is becoming increasingly important. At People Group, we’ve been banging this drum for a while. Payroll can deliver real cashflow, candidate attraction and retention benefits. Adopting new compliance processes can harness technology to dramatically reduce onboarding times. But they have to be intelligently optimised in a way that fits your business. Real efficiencies and savings are hidden in the outdated processes that are often ignored. Now is the time to look beyond placing more people for revenue.
We are adopting new technologies at an incredible rate. On March 23rd, Zoom was downloaded 2.13m times, up from 56,000 a month before. Video conferencing is the new normal. For an industry that’s built on face-to-face personal relationships, this is a tectonic shift.
Zoom is not the enemy of personal contact. Instead, it’s another way to connect. We have a few months to figure out how to make this and other communication tools work for us. To make them enhance the personal connection and team culture, not replace them. Integrate these tools into your process going forward so that when you come out of this, you’ve evolved how you build relationships.
4. USER EXPERIENCE
We are relying on technology like never before. Our move towards online tools was already happening, but now it’s accelerating. Can you honestly imagine candidates ever printing up a timesheet again?
Candidates, clients, everyone will be used to doing everything online. Again, change is accelerated. They will emerge into this new world with raised expectations about their online experience. Agencies need to think about the experience they offer to both clients and candidates. Is it easy? Is the experience joined-up? Does it empower them? When this is all over, they’ll expect nothing less.
A big danger for our industry is the impact of large tech players. It’s potentially a perfect storm – our reliance on tech, the rate of change and multi-billion pound tech companies like Uber who are experts in customer experience. If they seriously come after the recruitment market, they’ll be a real threat.
The tech companies will come, no doubt about that, and those that can adapt and innovate quickly will be in a better position to compete. But recruitment’s a people business, so consider some of the smart new blended human/tech solutions out there.
Use this time to build stronger relationships with all candidates, not your top 20%. And with clients, listen, don’t sell. Be there for them even if there’s nothing in it for you right now. Build your digital experience so that you can legitimately compete with the tech giants but also offer the human dimension – experience, understanding and empathy. All areas where they can’t win. When we get back to some semblance of normality, be the person clients and candidates remember as someone who cared.
Remember when working from home was optional? We are redefining working culture in real-time. No boss will ever be able to say flexible working doesn’t work.
We’ll figure out how to work like this. People are brilliant like that. But it will challenge some of our most strongly held beliefs. We’ve never been better resourced to make remote working easy. If working flexibly becomes the new norm, it calls into question the idea of everyone travelling to the same place, at the same time, every day to work. Use this as an opportunity to challenge yourself, your attitudes and your culture. Don’t take anything off the table. Apps like House Party and Zoom are doing a pretty good job at enabling team culture. So, do you really need that big expensive central city Head Office? This is an opportunity to think the unthinkable.
In these strange times, we’re all physically separate from each other and yet have to act as one organisation. This is a test of your organisation’s culture. Vision, purpose, mission, values. These are what bind your organisation together. You’re going to find out how well they’re embedded over the next few months.
Research shows that organisations in the top quartile of employee engagement scores achieve revenue growth 2.5 times that of organisations in the bottom quartile (Engage for Success). It’s tough. You’re looking to cut costs everywhere and survival is your top priority. All that fluffy culture stuff isn’t really a priority is it? Culture, a clear shared goal and a plan of how you’re going to achieve it might be what gets you through this. Invest in it. If it’s always been on the back burner, now’s the time to get real about it. Why? Because if your organisation is facing big challenges, your people need to believe in what you stand for. When this is all over, if you only exist to generate profit, don’t expect staff, clients or candidates to be banging down your door.
The impact of self-isolation on our mental health will be studied for decades to come. Recruiters tend to thrive on human connection and shared energy. They will feel the impact.
Wellness and self-care are more important now. Again, this is one of those trends that has been accelerated. If your consultants are extrovert and outgoing, use online tools to give them a sense of team. But pay attention to the people who actually thrive in this new, more isolated environment. The introverts who are often overlooked in a loud sales environment. This is an opportunity to learn about what makes your team tick as individuals and customise how you keep them well and productive after all of this.
And one more thing. Take care of yourself. An exhausted, stressed out leader is no use to anyone. Keep well.
Drive positive change
While a lot of the changes imposed on us at the moment are terrible, we have to work with them. There are so many elements of this situation that we can’t control. But some that we can. At People Group we use technology and expertise to rethink and reinvent compliance and payroll for the better. To optimise them so that they’re as efficient as possible and deliver real time and money savings.
When it comes to driving efficiencies and preparing for the world when this is all over, we can help.