Planning for Workforce Uncertainty
Many companies find themselves in unchartered waters this year, as they establish new remote working strategies and recruitment processes to meet the current need for social distancing. Alongside addressing immediate concerns and pain points, businesses also need to prepare for an increasingly uncertain future. Finding the right balance between planning for the short- and long-term future is a challenge at present, but it is vital in order to encourage productivity and future growth in the years to come.
Our team works with thousands of companies and millions of employees and candidates around the world, affording us a unique view on the world of work, especially in times of change.
While the current situation is obviously very different – and more acute in many ways – some of the uncertainty we’re seeing is reminiscent of the 2008 crash and the recession that followed. In particular, it highlights how some companies were better prepared than others to adjust to new realities in their workforces. That preparation paid off during other times of uncertainty, such as with Brexit, or changing regulations. And again, it paid off when unemployment hit historical lows and demand for certain skill sets intensified.
With all this in mind, here are three things we’ve learned that can help companies prepare for uncertainty:
Put Scalable, Flexible Resources in Place
From a workforce standpoint, all we can be certain of in the face of an uncertain future is that most companies’ needs are going to change. Many will be forced to make difficult decisions based on reduced demand for their products and services. Others will find themselves in periods of rapid and unexpected growth. How long that will last or when it will shift is up in the air.
In the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, many companies reduced the size of their talent acquisition functions. In the years that followed, some used RPO to establish flexible recruiting teams that could be scaled up and down as necessary. When things turned around, these companies were able to act fast, quickly ramping up their recruiting efforts, which kept business running smoothly. And now? Those companies have the flexibility to scale up or down, as needed.
We also know from past experience that times of significant change usually force HR leaders and front-line managers to turn their attention to core business issues and away from recruiting and hiring. Recruiting professionals can help you maintain empathetic candidate engagement during difficult times. Your hiring plans may change, but your employer brand remains as important as ever, with many looking to how companies supported their employees through this difficult time as an indicator of underlying culture.
Leverage Recruiting Technology and Social Tools
If you can stay home, please do. But don’t cancel an interview with that hard-to-find candidate just because you’re not able to meet face-to-face.
While recruiting processes have evolved considerably since 2008, it is likely that the response to COVID-19 will cause an even more dramatic shift as companies adapt to solutions such as video interviewing, online and mobile assessments, and social candidate engagement. For example, research conducted on 11th March by Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards found that 58% of employers were scheduling more virtual candidate interviews as a result of COVID-19, up from 39% in a survey conducted just nine days earlier.
The way we connect to each other in the world has changed and may very well continue to do so. It’s already accelerating our reliance on digital recruiting. RPO can help to establish and facilitate technology solutions to keep talent acquisition efforts on track.
Don’t Slack on Developing Talent Pipelines
‘In the current environment, future hiring needs and production demands will be difficult to predict. What we do know is that some hard-to-find talent will remain elusive for the foreseeable future (health care professionals, delivery drivers, and IT staff come to mind). We also know from the 2008-09 experience that over the next few years, demand for specific skill sets, including those we haven’t seen before, will likely emerge.
Connecting with candidates and cultivating talent pools you can draw on in the future will be essential. Whether it’s supporting programmes for aspiring welders and electricians or maintaining relationships with full-stack developers and sales professionals, our teams can help to identify work-ready and future talent and develop the relationships to keep those candidates engaged.
Workforce planning has historically favoured known variables over unknown ones, but that won’t help your organisation to get ahead in today’s reality. Being ready for an uncertain future is the best thing we can do for our companies and for the people we’ll work with, today and tomorrow.
To learn more about how we can help you plan for your company’s present and future workforce needs, fill out the form below.