Today marks the start of the UK’s second COVID-19 lockdown or Lockdown 2.0 as it is being referred to. This time around, we at least know what to expect except for the true duration of it that is, will it be stage 4 weeks or more – who knows?! One thing we have gained more experience in, is how to recruit remotely and onboard people ready for working from home. Companies have engaged in Zoom and Teams interviews and training people at a distance. A forced experiment – yes. There have been some real success stories and hopefully it will challenge businesses in the future to continue with the flexibility that so many employees craved. In an output lead role, if you get the work done and people are available for key meetings when required then why not?
The market has been ‘different’ let us say this year. Not a total disaster for some but not a record breaking one for most clients we speak to either. Clearly some industries have fared better than others such as FMCG, distribution and pharma. Travel and tourism, leisure and hospitality have been decimated. Hitting budget is a challenge just as cash flow is for others. Businesses have had to cope with staff potentially suffering from Coronavirus or employees shielding. Add home schooling into the equation too it has not been easy.
We have found that companies have been quick to restructure, having assessed and stripped out bottom line costs as rapidly as they could. A lesson learned from the last recession on how to survive playing an impact. What we are experiencing in this market is that clients are continuing to recruit at the junior and newly qualified end. Senior Executive roles are still being hired, particularly for people who have got strong change management and capital raising experience. Private Equity firms are still looking to invest but are sellers getting the business valuation that they are looking for in this climate therefore slowing down transactions? Middle management roles have been cut. IR35 is still playing a part in client’s decision making processes and Fixed Term Contracts are more prevalent than they were say 2 years ago. We are not seeing big new systems projects kicking off in earnest, nor other big capex spend items.
One way or another, 2020 has not panned out quite as anticipated. Lots of people are focusing on 2021 and challenging themselves to keep their teams as lean as possible. However, there are lots of disgruntled employees out there and whilst they are happy to have a job during these challenging times, they are feeling the pressure of the additional workload and hours. These are the people that will quickly have their heads turned as soon as the job market improves. Give your team a virtual hug and remind them that they are a valued member of the organisation!