It is too soon to say whether L’Oréal and other commentators will be proved correct and the next ten years will be the second ‘roaring twenties’. But underlying that prediction is the idea that the recession in which we find ourselves at this moment will be followed by a period of prosperity—a boom. As odd as it sounds to be predicting years of economic flourishing, there are plenty of comparisons you can make with the period that followed the 1918 flu pandemic. But—to point out the obvious—a lot has changed as well. And as the businesses that have suspended hiring look to find great jobseekers, there are a number of things they should bear in mind.
There are great candidates around
Recessions are often times of entrepreneurship. Uber, Airbnb, CNN, Burger King—all of these household-name businesses were founded during times of economic hardship. This is partly because small businesses have access to an abundance of full-time and part-time talent—people who, for no fault of their own, will have lost their job if their employers were hit hard by the economic downturn. Often these individuals will be itching to get back to work, and ready to throw themselves into a new role.
Allow flexible work—but don’t undervalue the office
People have become used to working flexibly after more than a year indoors. And for a variety of reasons—from sustainability to employee engagement—this is a positive development. But working from home cannot compare to working in an office in a number of consequential ways, not least of which is that the learning curve for new team members is not nearly as steep when onboarding is a digital process. It is by shadowing and copying other team members, asking questions on an ad-hoc basis without the need for a formal meeting, and accepting unsolicited advice and guidance from those around you that you find your groove in a new role. Many ambitious people looking for work recognise this and will be interested in joining companies that insist—gently—on having the team together in an office, bonding and collaborating, from time to time.
Show your adaptability
In brutal fashion, the pandemic illustrated what can happen to brands incapable of adjusting to new conditions at a time of volatility. Yet there were also displays of incredible ingenuity, in particular by bricks-and-mortar retail stores and other ‘physical’ businesses, such as restaurants, whose owners and staff used their imagination and grit to continue to serve their customers while confined to their homes. Naturally, tech businesses have an advantage with respect to adaptability in a time like our own. Nevertheless, potential recruits will want to know that they are joining businesses with agility and foresight so that they are protected in the case of another calamity.
Interrogate your employee benefits
In the post-COVID era, salary alone might not be enough to attract the quality of candidates you want. Moreover, you may not have the financial power you did before the pandemic. In both cases, it is wise to consider employee benefits, from better-than-average annual leave allowances to generous parental leave, to gym memberships and employee recognition programmes. ‘Perks’, often facilitated by dedicated companies, are an effective means to appeal especially to young people who like a particular company and are willing to accept a smaller salary than they might otherwise command—but expect to get something in another form to make up the shortfall.
Hire diverse talent
Diverse companies have higher revenue, higher employee engagement, higher employee retention and more innovation than their less diverse counterparts. It is beyond question that companies that think intelligently about and take action on D&I do better. But diversity begins with hiring, and taking this seriously—for instance, scrutinising the language you use in your job advertisements—is absolutely essential to building a business in which difference is respected and may be drawn upon to the benefit of everyone.
A final thought
As lockdown restrictions ease, there may be a ‘gold rush’ for great talent and businesses look to fly out of the blocks. Now, then, is the time to think about how to position your company and prepare yourself to hire post-pandemic. It is really those businesses that have done their thinking early that will be capable of finding, attracting and properly rewarding those jobseekers itching to get back to work or move companies. And, since businesses are their people, these are the companies that will thrive in the ‘new normal’.