While many businesses become reactive and irrational during crises, the ones most likely to succeed are those that stay calm and use the market forces to their advantage – surging ahead of competitors.
A Harvard Business School study analysed 4,700 companies across the last three recessions. They determined that only 9% were able to come out in better positions than they entered, attributed to their balanced, progressive focus. Rather than choosing to radically slash costs or pour investment into high-risk opportunities, these companies selectively cut back in some areas while strategically investing in others.
The same can be said for a company's employee base. Instead of believing they need to choose between downsizing or hiring, progressive companies understand they can do both and be strategic about their hiring decisions.
The pool of available talent is changing and expanding as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and long-sighted leaders can make the most of it preparing for post-crisis recovery and growth.
Here are three key reasons why now is the best time to hire.
Reason 1 – Reduce the skills gap
75% of Australia’s CEOs (and 79% globally) were concerned that skill shortages were a real threat to growth and 62% said their people costs were rising more than expected due to the skills deficit before Covid-19.
The skills gap has become a serious challenge for many businesses, delaying strategic plans, presenting increased risk to business growth and costing companies significant spend in learning and development.
As a result, organisations have been investing significant time and spend into adapting their workforce to accommodate the skills gap. Reskilling and upskilling team members (either through internal professional development or through external qualifications and training), creating senior leadership roles dedicated to making the workforce "future fit" and partnering with other organisations to accommodate the needs of the future workforce are just some of the strategies deployed.
While the pace of change is likely to mean the skills shortage will continue to exist, the current unemployment rates present an opportunity for buoyant businesses to tap into skilled talent that may have been displaced - helping these businesses expedite their plans.
Reason 2 – Raise the bar with remote talent
Before Covid-19, 52% of businesses were in the process of implementing new, flexible ways of working to attract or develop talent. In many cases, these plans have been expedited with the forced shift to remote working that has sparked interest in retaining the remote working model long-term.
"Work flexibility is becoming the norm. The challenge is how fast can organisations provide it. Those that can are going to be in a far better position to retain top talent over the next three to five years." — Jason Phillips, VP Digital HR & Global Chief of Staff, Cisco (LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2019 Report).
Aside from the benefits of a happier, more engaged workforce and savings on fixed overheads, forward-thinking companies are considering the possibility that remote working opens them to a broader talent pool.
Remote working can allow you to access talent that was otherwise limited by geographical proximity, will enable you to hire with greater diversity and potentially access new expertise that was otherwise unattainable. 68% of millennial job seekers said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in specific employers. Further, remote working is very attractive to women who are 22% more likely than men to cite flexible work arrangements as a significant factor when considering a job.
Reason 3 – Increase Engagement
After any crisis, it is human nature to reflect, reassess and re-evaluate our priorities – especially when it comes to work.
The pandemic has given rise to “making social resolutions” the norm. Collectively we are experiencing a reconsideration of priorities both personally and professionally with common themes being spending less, cooking at home more, spending increased time with family and vowing to care less about climbing the work ladder.
As employees start to analyse the role work plays in their life, we see a greater need for personal fulfilment. Roles that ignite passion and purpose are going to be more attractive, as well as those roles that offer working arrangements to support the new social resolutions – whether it be remote working, flexible working or other employee benefits.
This shift in priorities will see an increase in candidates actively looking for new roles that accommodate their preferences and others who will be more open to changing jobs than ever before.
Further, we are more likely to see those who have selected new roles for closer personal and professional fit, to experience greater engagement - which has significant benefits to the business.
Reason 4 – Competitive Advantage
Top talent in your industry may be displaced through no fault of their own performance as competitors seek to reduce costs through redundancies, lay-offs and business closures.
Future focussed businesses see this as a significant opportunity to tap into talent that is ready to hit the ground running. Competitor talent already has skills, knowledge about the industry, best practices, and alternate perspective, which can be highly beneficial in this market.
Further, new research published in the Academy of Management Journal found that people who are hired to work at a firm that competes with their current employer come with increased energy which often translates into higher productivity.
If you are thinking of hiring for competitor intel alone, then think again. Many employees have strict confidentiality clauses in their employment agreements that continue well beyond their term. Expecting them to breach their agreements may set you up for a sour relationship from the start. Be sure to hire talent based on skills and merit, not just the competitive intelligence they may bring.
Reason 5 – Accelerate plans
Where competitors have stood down employees on a mass scale, it may be possible to pick up entire teams of talented people who are already established. Hiring groups of people who have worked together as a “team transplant” has obvious benefits of being able to skip the initial forming stage, knowing how each other works and are able to be productive immediately.
Familiarity enables teams to better respond to changed circumstances and integrate their knowledge into workable solutions – especially at a time when change is at its peak. Over time, these teams can also become a source of competitive advantage: rival organisations find it hard to replicate a team’s success by hiring away just one member.
The success of this type of hire lies in the integration of the new team’s culture within the existing environment. The way decisions are made, resources allocated, and information shared can all be vastly different from one company to the next despite the industry or line of business being the same. For success, the incoming team needs to feel they are empowered to continue to excel. Existing team members need to feel they are still valued and not fear being replaced.
The most progressive and forward-thinking organisations are considering cost reductions while balancing these decisions with strategic investment.
Given talented people are critical to business success, investing in hiring in a candidate-rich talent pool can be a strategic advantage.
It may be easier to fill roles where there was a previous skill shortage which can help bring plans forward.
Raising the talent bar is possible in the current environment as top talent may be displaced based on lack of company performance, not individual performance.
Remote working opens the business to more geographically dispersed team members as well as attract a diverse culture.
Competitors may be standing down employees which provides the opportunity to find qualified, skilled team members with industry knowledge.
In some cases, there may be the opportunity to hire teams who have worked together who can hit the ground running.
Look for Support During the Journey
Hiring new staff can be time-consuming and intensive, even for top hiring managers. In a candidate-rich market, this is amplified. Along with additional pressure to make effective hiring decisions, the process of sourcing, assessing, interviewing, testing, checking, offering, negotiating, and onboarding can be incredibly time-consuming and overwhelming.
Consider contacting a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff. We can assist you and your team in hiring the best talent; freeing up resources and your time to focus on existing functions within your business.