Two weeks’ ago in my blog Leaders need to investigate these two critical areas of their business, I recommended a basic framework for how a recruitment agency owner or leader might usefully review their business given the impact of COVID-19.
Very helpfully, local industry vendor, JobAdder, has provided an almost immediate insight into what industry owners and leaders are doing, and considering doing, as a result of COVID-19. JobAdder’s publication The Impact of COVID-19 on Recruitment Agencies: Survey results from 700 recruitment agency owners and leaders, May 2020 was released late last week.
Where I was more pessimistic than many respondents
Although 35 per cent of respondents had already reduced headcount, 43 per cent of respondents indicated that they were going to recruit more employees in 2020 (15% nominated this hiring would occur before June, 13% nominated after June and 15% predicted they would hire later this year).
This result points to a high degree of optimism that there will be a return, relatively soon, to some semblance of normality in terms of using recruitment agencies.
I find this result very encouraging although my own view about this likely return to somewhat-close-to-normal agency usage is much more bearish. I hope I am wrong.
The result that points to a very positive industry-wide change
Our industry’s staff turnover rate has been abysmal for a long time.
The three major causes of this turnover are; the ineffective recruitment practises that dominate the hiring of people to work as recruitment consultants (“He/she looks good, is likeable and confident; let’s make then an offer”); the erratic way in which employees are inducted and developed in the crucial first six months of their employment and the failure to provide flexible working practises that would, most likely, retain a high proportion of talented women that otherwise leave the industry.
Among the post-COVID-19 changes being considered by respondents were: More flexible working/working from home (nominated by 66% of respondents), staggered office attendance (28%), changing start and finish times (23%) and hiring remote employees (21%).
No doubt the removal of the daily commute (nominated by 71 per cent of respondents as a positive of the COVID-19 restrictions) has been a major factor in the conversion of the work-from-home skeptics. Only 18 per cent of respondents will have all employees back in the office when restrictions are fully lifted. Work-from-home for 1 to 2 days per week was the most common (40% of respondents) work-from-home scenario from the 82% of leaders who were indicating work-from-home will still be an option for employees when restrictions are eased.
Although these results only indicate what is being considered or predicted, it does closely align with the feedback I have received from owners in my recent conversations; many of whom admit they are converts to the benefits of work-from-home.
Overall it does point to an encouraging change of mindset across our industry, one which, if acted upon, could significantly lower the recruitment industry’s staff turnover.
The immediate business process improvement that delighted me
The three most popular options selected in the JobAdder survey were; Cleaned up our database (61%), followed by Conducted or attended training (48%) and Made improvements to the way our database is used (48%).
As I one of the topics I got on my high horse about very early on in my blogging, and one I often return to, I am heartened to see that owners recognise the unique opportunity that a slowdown in business provides to reset the clock on database protocols and habits.
Effective database usage remains one of the most cost-effective ways to improve consultant productivity, followed by the significant impact that regular training can provide to the skills, confidence and productivity of each consultant.
I certainly hope the current focus on these two areas is a catalyst for an ongoing raising of the bar in both database usage and training.
The JobAdder report has captured the views of 700 owners and leaders at a moment in time. It will be fascinating to see what a similar survey, of the same population, might reveal in August if the next three months doesn’t provide us with the sustainable green shoots we are all hoping for.